Kenya cancels richest marathon in Eldoret city over COVID-19 threat

Mathew Kisorio wins the Eldoret City Marathon in Uasin Gishu County on April 21, 2019 after clocking 2:12:38. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Mathew Kisorio wins the Eldoret City Marathon in Uasin Gishu County on April 21, 2019 after clocking 2:12:38. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Elite athletes whose races were cancelled abroad were hopeful to compete in Kenya’s richest marathon in Eldoret on April 19, but that too has been cancelled owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers had increased the purse to 3.5 million shillings (about 35,000 U.S. dollars) in an attempt to attract big names and a strong international showing.

However, former two-time Boston Marathon champion, Moses Tanui, who is the race director, said they had no choice but to postpone the race indefinitely due to COVID-19 concerns.

The race had attracted athletes from Ethiopia, Greece, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi. But as is the trend worldwide, the coronavirus continues to wreck the sports calendar and Kenya is no exception.

“Our estimation was to have the race in April. We thought things would have returned to normalcy. But as Kenya continues to fight the coronavirus, we have to abide by the government directive not to have public gatherings and people to keep social distancing,” Tanui said

Elite athletes whose races were canceled abroad were hopeful to compete in Kenya’s richest marathon in Eldoret on April 19, but that too has been canceled owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers had increased the purse to 3.5 million shillings (about 35,000 U.S. dollars) in an attempt to attract big names and a strong international showing.

However, former two-time Boston Marathon champion, Moses Tanui, who is the race director, said they had no choice but to postpone the race indefinitely due to COVID-19 concerns.

The race had attracted athletes from Ethiopia, Greece, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi. But as is the trend worldwide, the coronavirus continues to wreck the sports calendar and Kenya is no exception.

“Our estimation was to have the race in April. We thought things would have returned to normalcy. But as Kenya continues to fight the coronavirus, we have to abide by the government directive not to have public gatherings and people to keep social distancing,” Tanui said on Tuesday from Eldoret.

With no sports, Tanui asked the Kenyan government to consider a stimulus package to boost athletes who can no longer earn a living in their industry.

“The races worldwide have been cancelled due to the virus. Our athletes depend on the sport and now they may go the entire season without action. President Uhuru Kenyatta should also intervene and help them because they won’t compete. He should help them as he has helped the musicians,” Athletics Kenya regional chairman Abraham Mutai said.