NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 31 – The sixth edition of the Ekiden relay marathon to be held in Murang’a County September 23 will be hoping to crop future stars that will follow into the footsteps of the late Olympic champion Samuel Wanjiru.
Race organisers Ndakaini Dam Environmental Conservation Association (NDEKA) through its chairman James Mukuna are upbeat of developing world beaters for the country since the annual race is preserved Secondary School going children.
The race that acts as the curtain raiser for the annual Ndakiaini Half Marathon will run September 30 in a course that sees participants tackle the course around the dam that supplies Nairobi with water.
The 21km relay marathon will involve four athletes per team with each covering 5.3km before handing over the button to their team-mates.
“This event is kind of a buildup in molding the next generations of world marathon champions. The annual marathon comes one week before the Ndakaini Half Marathon. It’s the most popular race in Japan and many of our prominent marathoners have taken part in the marathon and we hope we will be able to tap future Samuel Wanjirus,” Mukuna told Capital Sport.
The late Wanjiru, who moved to Japan at a tender age, attended Ikuei Gakuen High School in the northern city of Sendai and as a member of the high school’s athletics team, he excelled at Ekiden which is a long-distance relay race and went on to win major cross-country events. In 2005 he joined the Toyota Kyushu athletics team.
NDEKA will be looking to improve the participation of the marathon from last year’s 500 schools as they seek to cover all schools in the county before moving to the neighboring counties.
“We learned there are so many talents to be tapped from schools and we came up with this race that originated from Japan since they have been taking our athletes there for the other Ekiden marathons previously,’’ Mukuna added.
Schools have been urged to produce documents that identify the athletes age and school they attend in a bid to curb cheating.
“There has been the issue of cheating in the previous marathons. Some athletes have been forging their age in order to participate. This year we are more careful so that the deserving team wins. Our target is mostly secondary school students from Form One to Form Four because the other group is catered for in the Ndakaini Half Marathon.’’
The winning school team will go home with Sh30, 000.
‘’The cash prize for the winner remains as it was last year 30,000. The event is growing and we are thinking of looking for other organisers so that the marathon can grow and be a national event,’ Mukuna declared.