NAIROBI, Kenya, September 4- Organisers have petitioned Athletics Kenya (AK) to upgrade the Safaricom Gusii Golden Series as Kenya’s selection event for the annual Chiba International Ekiden in Japan.
Speaking during the launch of the tenth edition on Tuesday, event patron and sports editor of local daily The Nation, Elias Makori, implored on the federation to use the three-meet event that kicks-offs this Friday in Gucha as a selection event for the renowned marathon relay competition owing to the calibre of runners who take part.
“We normally have the Chiba Ekiden every November and the Kebirigo race is in October and athletes competing in this race are usually in top shape.
“Last year, AK used Kebirigo to select Edwin Mokua and he went and ran in the Ekiden and Kenya won the overall title,” he urged.
Title sponsors Safaricom gave Sh4.05m ($48,214) with Sh2.05m ($24,404) set aside for prize monies across the three races that will culminate with the Kebirigo 10K road race on October 5.
Besides the cash, cattle and bags of maize prizes on offer, organisers will also award top performers across the event with training kit from Adidas.
AK relations officer and Nyanza South branch chairman, Peter Angwenyi, added they were expecting even more intense competition than last year in the race for the jackpot as he hailed the impact the event has made over the last decade.
“Last year’s series winner was picked to represent the country in the Chiba Ekiden who ran 27:42 in his 10km leg.
“Olympics 5000m men bronze winner, Thomas Longosiwa and Peter Kirui, who paced Patrick Makau to the marathon world record are some of the elite athletes who started out at this event,” Angwenyi expressed.
“Our challenge is to make the Gusii Golden Series a point where we can select great athletes such as Kirui who ran the 10,000m at the World Championships in Daegu,” he added.
The next race will be in Nyamira before the decider in Kebirigo where the jackpot winner will be decided.
During last year’s Ekiden that is widely popular in Japan, Mokua started to close on home runner Tetsuya Yoroizaka immediately he started the fifth 10Km stage.
Just over 2Km later he took the lead and passed the 5Km point in an incredible 13:31 and despite slowing down because of multiple hills in the last half of the route, he still set a stage record and gave Kenya a 35 second lead over Japan as his country wrapped up the title in an aggregate time of 2:04:40 over the full 42km course.
Thomas Longosiwa, Patrick Mutunga and Pamela Lisoreng partnered the teenager.