The 10th edition of the annual Marsden Madoka Half Marathon has enticed over 1,500 participants with more than 150 elite runners signing for the 21kilometres race this year.
Eunice Mumbua Kioko and Justus Kiprop Kangogo returns to the Coastal County to defend their victories last year but faces uphill tasks from potential challengers after the prize purse was enlarged this year from Ksh150, 000 to Ksh250, 000.
The annual showbiz, organized by former Minister Marsden Madoka and Athletics Kenya Coast Region, will take place this Saturday at Ngerenyi, Mwatate in Taita Taveta County with the purpose of discovering athletics talents from the zone.
The event, sponsored by telephone service provider Safaricom, received a major boost last month when Huawei Technologies, Kenya Revenue Authority, Amaco Insurance, Kericho Gold Team, Samsung and Nakumatt Holdings join the long list of underwriters for the edition.
“What drove me to start this race is my belief in youth empowerment through sports. I have been involved in many youth groups for many years and wants to do more,” said Madoka, a retired major and a former Kenya Amateur Boxing Association of Kenya chairman.
Other sponsorship this year is coming from Grain Bulk Handlers, Microsoft, Base Titanium, East Africa Portland Cement, Brookside Dairy, Taita Taveta County, Coca Cola Soft Drink, General Motors and Bamburi Cement.
“Although many athletes in Kenya come from the Rift Valley, I think Taita Hill has similar climatic conditions that could also produce top athletes. Lack of follow up programmes has been a major problem in sports after the talent has been identified,” added the former cabinet minister, the race patron.
Last year, Justus Kangogo from North Rift and Eunice Mumbua from Southern regions secured victories in the men and women 21kilometres after entering as individuals.The race is projected to attract the country’s top cream that will be fighting for the elevated reward of Ksh250, 000 for both men and women.
However, the winners would have to wait longer for the cheques to be withdrawn from their banks account as they will have to undergo doping tests and await results to ascertain they won clean, according to AK Assistant Treasurer and Coast Region Chair Kimoni Kisalu.
Madoka Half Marathon comes after Eldoret Family Bank and Laikipia University Half marathons which are also the top paying 21kilometres race in the country launched by Athletics Kenya last month.
According to new designation by the national athletics federation, all half marathons would have to offer Ksh500, 000 for the winners while full marathon the prize has been pegged at Ksh1.2 million.
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