Athletics Athletics

70K target for 2016 First Lady Marathon

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta displays her running shirt after registering for the 2016 First Lady Marathon in Nairobi. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, January 26- Organisers of the 2016 First Lady Marathon are targeting a record 70,000 participants although patron and founder, Ms Margaret Kenyatta, will not take part in any high altitude training for the event this year.

The event has gained fame for the running exploits of the First Lady who completed the 21km Half Marathon course in the previous two editions besides finishing the London Marathon of 2014 when it was first held as part of her Beyond Zero initiative.

During the launch at State House Nairobi, on Tuesday, Ms Kenyatta registered as 2016 edition’s first participant and called on Kenyans to register for the 21 Km, 10Km or 5 km races in the event scheduled for March.

“The unique private-public sector partnership, individual philanthropists, the media, the UN family, National and County governments have all contributed to these milestones,” she added.

This year’s event will once again be flagged off at Nyayo Stadium with organisers seeking to increase participation from 50,000 that took part last year.

Ms Kenyatta held training sessions in the high altitude heartlands of Iten and Sagana to prepare for the 2014 and 15 editions under the tutelage of former world marathon champion, Douglas Wakiihuri but that will not be the case this time.

She will instead focus on delivering the remaining 11 mobile clinics obtained from proceeds of the Beyond Zero initiatives with 36 counties already receiving the vehicles that aim at cutting child mortality at the devolved units.

Ms Kenyatta launched the 2016 edition during a breakfast meeting she hosted for various key stakeholders and supporters of the Beyond Zero Campaign.

They included Diplomats, Government departments, corporates, media, UN agencies, spouses of County Governors, members of women parliamentary Association and the civil society among others.

The marathon is aimed at creating awareness and mobilizing resources to fund Beyond Zero activities especially the acquisition of mobile clinics that the initiative has been distributing to the devolved units.

During the launch, Ms. Kenyatta announced the campaign has raised Sh540 million besides receiving donations in kind of medical equipment and kits

Co-operative Bank of Kenya, through its Chief Executive Officer Dr. Gideon Muriuki, pledged a Sh15 million donation towards the effort.