The ABC Bank Baringo Half Marathon 2014 edition will take place on 1st November. The race, themed ‘Developing Athletic Talent’ is an exciting strategy that seeks to nurture and promote young sporting talent.
Speaking at the launch event, Baringo County Governor, H.E. Benjamin Cheboi emphasized the importance of nurturing upcoming athletes through locally sponsored initiatives such as the ABC Bank Baringo Half Marathon.
“My government is equally committed to supporting not only athletics but other sports as well, as a way of encouraging our youth to pursue sports as a viable career option.” Governor Cheboi said.
This initiative provides an opportunity for every athlete to perform at their best through continued practice and race opportunities through which they can gauge their performance levels. The organizers have this year involved and worked closely with the Baringo County Government and other local leaders to enhance community participation and ownership of the event.
“Besides being a lucrative source of income, sports keeps the youth constructively engaged, thus keeping them away from destructive or unlawful activities. It is also a useful vehicle for bringing people together hence contributing to society building and promoting peaceful co-existence among different communities,” he reiterated.
Moreover, Governor Cheboi noted that increased awareness and uptake of athletics and distance running will continue to increase entries and sponsorships, and promote socio-economic growth in the county of Baringo and beyond.
The Paul Tergat Foundation Chairman and Patron of the Baringo Half Marathon, Mr. Paul Tergat called on both elite and budding athletes to register for the marathon to battle it out for the attractive prizes on offer. The upcoming athletes will have the opportunity to have their talent identified, and possibly picked for the athletes’ development program.
A key highlight of this year’s event is the introduction of a schools-only category in which participants will compete in the 6 kilometer cross-country race.
“A school is free to register as many teams as possible. This will give our young people in schools from across the country an opportunity to showcase their athletic talent as the cross country season kicks off,” he noted.
He thanked the county government, local leaders and area residents for supporting the marathon, and appealed for more support for such initiatives such as the marathon, which also attracts and promotes sports tourism.
“This is why sports by far remain as the most effective platform for social and economic transformation. We must embrace and invest in it,” he added.
ABC Bank Group Managing Director, Mr. Shamaz Savani said the half marathon also seeks to boost the image of the sport to upcoming talent and the general public.
“As the title sponsor, we have increased the sponsorship kitty to Ksh. 10 million from Ksh. 5 million last year. This kitty will be used to host the marathon as well as run the athletes’ development program following the marathon. Additionally, we have increased the total prize purse to Ksh. 3 million with the first prize being 300,000 shillings each for men and women in the 21 km category. We have introduced a Schools Category, which will be the key highlight of the marathon, with prizes for both schools and winning students,” he said.
During last year’s ABC Bank Baringo Half Marathon, the organizers identified a batch of 12 upcoming athletes to join the athletes’ development program sponsored by the bank. They have undergone intensive professional training in reputable training camps to prepare for not only the Baringo Half marathon but also for other local and international races. They have also received life skills training in key areas such as personal finance and investments, handling media and public speaking, anti-doping policies and managing sponsorship contracts.
Alfred Barkach, one of the ABC Bank-sponsored athletes, won the 10,000 metres race at the recently concluded East African Secondary Schools Games held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. His success is testament to the fact that nurturing talent will produce more champions for this country.
Some of the mentors who have offered a helping hand to the budding athletes through the athletes’ development program include: world marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang, former Olympic 800 meters champion Wilfred Bungei and US-based Kenyan distance runner Betsy Saina.
International athletes from Ethiopia and other East African countries have also been invited to headline the event and to increase the participation bracket beyond the country’s national borders as a model of building and nurturing talent.
‘’We have once again invited athletes from Ethiopia and other East African Countries to headline the event. Besides increasing the stature of the event, their presence here will also enhance its competitiveness. In return, we will be reciprocating with athletes from our half marathon participating in the Great Ethiopian Run later in November’’, noted Mr. Shamaz.