Eldoret City Marathon was founded in 2018 as a platform for launching the careers of young and unknown long-distance running talents while simultaneously promoting the conservation of the environment. Kenya is blessed with so many talented long distance runners that many potentially world-beating marathoners lack global opportunities due to being in the shadows of the more prominent world record holders, Olympians, world championship competitors, and those under the management of well-connected agents and/or managers.
The Eldoret City Marathon was developed to afford the talents in the shadows an opportunity to compete at home where they would not need the services of a manager or agent to register for a world-class marathon. The Eldoret City Marathon can then serve as the platform that gives them national prominence and introduces them to agents, managers, and the rest of the world.
Beyond nurturing young and unknown talents, the founders also envisioned the marathon as a platform for advocating for mass tree planting as a panacea for climate change. Climate change is an issue that affects every community in the world. It is a phenomenon that is subject to discussions at all levels of society, from top-level politics, to local churches, and through events. The founders were well aware of the impact that climate change has on societies, particularly in developing countries where heavy dependency on farming as an income-generating activity means that weather patterns can be the sole determinant of whether one lives a life of prosperity or poverty.
With this in mind, they decided to take practical steps to facilitate discussions about climate change by adopting “climate action” as the theme of the marathon. Together with sponsors and partners, Eldoret City Marathon champions climate action in several practical ways, including planting at least 1 million tree seedlings before every edition of the marathon.
The Third Edition of the ABBOTT World Marathon Majors (ABBOTTWMM) Wanda Age Group World Rankings saw the inclusion of Eldoret City Marathon among the rankings’ races. This means that participants in the Eldoret City Marathon, starting from the 4th edition in 2021, will earn points according to their age, time, and gender, aligned with the following age groups for men and women: 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, and 80+. This raises the international profile of the Eldoret City Marathon as international participants will seek to participate in the race in their bid to earn up to two qualifying times and a place at the AbbottWMM WANDA Age Group World championships in 2022.
Eldoret City Marathon is the highest paying marathon in Africa. Winners, both men and women, get Kshs. 3.5 million (USD 35,000). It is also the only marathon in Africa that awards the top twenty finishers in the male and female 42.197KM races with cash prizes. This prize structure is meant to motivate the richly talented pool of participants that compete in this marathon, which is held at the long-distance running capital of the world.
There are similarities between running a marathon and the long-term response to climate change. In both cases, the efforts at the start of both journeys determines the outcome at the end. In a marathon, a runner needs to conserve their energy for application towards the end of the race, otherwise they risk getting burnout and losing. In climate action, on the other hand, tree planting needs to start as early as now to ensure there are sufficient forest covers years down the line, otherwise there is a risk of desertification if reforestation is ignored until it’s too late.
At Eldoret City Marathon, we recognize the importance of climate action. To us, planting trees is our social duty, our way of giving back to the society. We view trees as futuristic investments that offer social and financial returns for decades. This is why we lead tree planting campaigns before every edition of our marathon. Our target every year is to plant at least one million tree seedlings in partnership with our sponsors and partners. So far, we have planted tree seedlings at Eldoret Club, Eldoret Arboretum, Kapseret Forest, Kaptagat Forest, and distributed hundreds of thousands of seedlings to institutions, such as schools, churches, police posts, youth groups, sponsors, and individuals.
Climate action assumes even greater urgency now with the spread of covid-19. It is our view that we can contribute, in our own small way, to a brighter future by playing our role in ensuring that the post-COVID-19 recovery will be green. A more expansive forest cover will not only ensure greater sustainability, a more inclusive economy with less pronounced negative effects of climate change, but also a higher resilience against potential future pandemics.
So many talented runners in Eldoret have not had a chance to go and run outside this country but maybe through this marathon, a few of them will be picked by some managers, coaches, and teams and even get a chance to represent Kenya.H.E Hon. Jackson Mandago, Governor, Uasin Gishu County
The marathon will nurture young talents and give athletes with no sponsors or agents a platform to showcase their talent and attract invitations to participate in international athletic events.Moses Tanui, Eldoret City Marathon Director
There are between 5000-10000 runners available in Eldoret. This marathon is the simplest way to nurture this talent. For only Ksh. 1,200 ($12), an athlete can be known worldwide.Andrew Chelogoi, Eldoret City Marathon Chairman