Preparations for the First Lady’s Half Marathon scheduled for Sunday March 6th are complete.
The Beyond Zero Campaign is an initiative of Her Excellency Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta, the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya.
Launched on 24th January 2014, the Beyond Zero campaign is part of the initiatives outlined in the First Lady’s Strategic Framework on HIV control and the promotion of maternal, new born and child health.
The Campaign is a platform designed to provide high level leadership in ending new HIV infections amongst children, reducing maternal, child and new born deaths through the delivery of mobile clinics to Kenya’s 47counties.
According to the organizers among the athletes and dignitaries expected to grace the event include the Olympic and world 3,000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi.
Returning to the marathon after missing out in 2015 is Cynthia Chelagat who won the 10km women’s race at the inaugural First Lady’s Half Marathon in 2014.
She is expected to go toe to toe with Agnes Jesang the World Military games 3000m Silver medallist also competing in the 10km event.
“I am excited to be running again this year. I am ready and hopeful to win even though I know many more athletes will also be competing for the ultimate prize”, said Chelagat.
Other notables expected at the event are Moses Kosgey and Andrew Kimutai the Gold and Silver medallists at the 2015 edition of the 21km men’s race.
Kosgey who clocked in at 1 hour 01:28 minutes, said he hoped to improve his timing at this year’s event.
“As an athlete, you always prepare to win each race, this is my goal and I am fully prepared to do just that come Sunday at Nyayo Stadium”, he said.
Speaking during a media briefing Barnaba Korir, on behalf of Athletics Kenya said that all professional runners registered for the marathon will be tested for doping by the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK).
“This will be the first tests done by ADAK. The samples will be taken to Qatar and we expect that in three weeks we will have the results in three weeks, only then will the prize monies be release”, said Korir.
According to AK, the marathon will start with the 10km Wheelchair race at 6.30am. The 21km men and women race will be flagged off at 7.00am with the 10km men and women race following at 8.00am. The 5km and 2km races will start at 8.30am and 9.00am respectively.
In addition to the elite runners, some of the largest corporate team entries this year include Central Bank of Kenya with 500 entries and the Public Service Commission which has entered 200 participants led by the Chairperson Margaret Kobia who will run the 21KM race.
Just like in the past marathons, this year will also be graced by a huge turnout of dignitaries such as governors, ambassadors, cabinet secretaries and captains of industry.
“We also expect a large turnout of participants from far-flung regions including schools and colleges who have come on board to support the ‘Beyond Zero’ Campaign,” said Myke Rabar, the Chief Executive Officer of Homboyz Aktivate, the event organizers.
And for the first time in the history of the marathon winners in all categories will also receive trophies alongside their prize monies. Similarly, the top seven finishers aged six years and below in the 2KM Champions race will be rewarded courtesy of Merck Limited, makers of Seven Seas Cod Liver oil.
This year, the flagship event for the ‘Beyond Zero’ Campaign, aims to raise Sh105 million from participation entries. As of Wednesday this week sponsorships and donations from both public and private organizations had reached Sh189 million.
Among the largest donors include, Merck Limited and Commercial Bank of Africa who have given Sh25 million each. Others include KCB Bank who donated two clinics worth Sh 20 million, Cooperative Bank Sh 15 million and Vivo Energy Sh10 million.
All monies raised through the Marathon are geared towards the purchase of 11 remaining fully kitted mobile clinics, out of the original 47 clinics earmarked for each county in Kenya. The Beyond Campaign also has plan to build a specialized hospital for mother and child health care.