NAIROBI, Kenya, October 24 – The largest ever security operation for the Standard Chartered Nairobi International Marathon is firmly in place, Kenya Police and organisers have assured with all participants set to be screened before they access the event areas on the day for the first time in its 11 year history.
With the country a target for international terrorists and wounds from last month’s deadly Westgate Mall attack blamed on Somali insurgents, Al Shabaab, who have links to the Al Qaeda network still fresh, organisers have embarked on a massive operation aimed at securing the over 20,000 local and foreign runners registered to compete on Sunday in the biggest gathering in Nairobi since the four-day siege that claimed over 70 lives, 62 among them civillians.
Speaking on Thursday, Kenya Police Deputy Commander, Nairobi County, Moses Ombati said all units of the service are working together in addition with private firms to ensure the smooth passage of the annual affair.
“We have put into consideration all the threats that we have in the country right now to enhance security on a higher level.
“We will be very strict right from the starting point and we will work with organisers to ensure there will be no vehicles parked around the stadium,” Ombati assured referring to the fatal attacks that grabbed global headlines.
“We will cover all the points, monitoring the exercise both from the air and the ground since we have the air wing that will be patrolling.
“I assure all Kenyans the function will be successful, actually, we will be patrolling along the road as the participants take to the course,” the police boss added.
Announcing the road closure schedule, Deputy Commanding Officer Traffic, Nairobi County, Peter Ndungu, said most of the affected roads will be closed between 4.00am and opened at 1.30 pm local time (+3GMT) on the day of the Marathon.
“We have made proper arrangements for the convenience of all before, during and after the Marathon.
“We have put in alternative diversions that will enable all reach their destinations especially the major institutions like the airport and hospitals,” said Ndungu.
The route change this year ensures smooth flow of traffic as all the events, the 42km men and women main marathons, 21km men and women half marathons, 10km men and women road races, Corporate Run and Fun Run will be against traffic.
Winners of the ultimate distance showdowns will pocket USD 17,688.68 (Sh1.5m) in the event that was part of the discontinued Greatest Race on Earth series that included the Mumbai, Hong Kong and Dubai Stanchart races.
Wesley Kibet in 2:10:40 and Salome Jerono in 2:26:41 raced to top honours in the main events last year, with the former’s time being a course record that earned him a USD 2,951.59 (Sh250,000) bonus.
However, with the new route, there will be no bonus for running under Kibet’s time this year.