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What happened to the unique and tough Kass marathon that began in Kapsabet and ended in Eldoret?

May 21, 2023
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Kass Marathon prize presentation
Kass Marathon prize presentation

Kass Marathon was one of the most popular marathons in Kenya, given its venue. It had the best support from the local community, who would line up the entire route from the starting line in Kapsabet town (the source of champions) to the finish line in Eldoret town (the city of champions).

The biggest percentage of runners in Kenya live around here, and all they needed -financially- was just the registration money to be able to run the marathon.

Fortunately, in healthy competition amongst the neighbouring counties. The County governments of Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, and Baringo, among others, would register runners from their counties in order to have more runners representing them.

The marathon just stopped happening!

Below is what I had written about this amazing marathon sometime in 2018.

The fact that Kass Marathon starts from one town and ends in another one may not be that unique, but what is really unique is that crowds line up the entire route from Kapsabet town to Eldoret town to cheer the athletes, just like it happens in cross country meetings.

This only happens when a race is run across villages that produce past, present and future world record holders and champions.

Kass Marathon, a gift to the community

The Kass Marathon is more about discovering new talents than anything else. It continues to provide opportunities for new athletes to get recognized. Many of them get to meet their managers just at the finish line, who would then enter them in international competitions abroad and build their careers.

 Time is not important in this marathon due to it being run on a hard course. The winning time for men is usually around 2:17 to 2:20.

 These times would perhaps translate to 2:03:02 if it is considered that Geoffrey Mutai won this race before going to run the world’s fastest marathon time at the Boston Marathon in 2011.

 But, no one should worry about the times because finishing Kass marathon is a huge achievement in itself, no matter in what time you do it. Some runners run just to complete this course, believing that if they can just finish it, then they can easily conquer any other marathon out there.

 Athletes running the full marathon usually travel in the evening to Kapsabet so that they would wake up in the morning near the starting point.

Runners participating in one of the local Kenyan races
Runners participating in one of the local Kenyan races

 Most hotels there do not open early enough for runners to get their breakfast before the marathon, but there are women who usually make tea in open fires near the starting point and athletes take them with some snacks before warming up.

 Although as one warms up, they may end up finding a hotel on some street somewhere far from the starting line that is already open.

 The women's race starts at around 7:30 AM; some speeches are made in the next 20 minutes before the men's race could start. The men's race begins at around 8:00 AM.

 With tough hills on the route that, at times, athletes wonder whether they would not be moving faster if they walked instead of running, the first half of the Kass marathon is very tough.

 The last stages of the course, about fourteen kilometres to the finish, are relatively faster. The only problem is that getting to those last kilometres is next to impossible.

 Whoever finishes the Kass marathon surely has a story to tell.

 The race ends inside the Eldoret Sports Club. The whole place here is a big party. Locals turn up in very large numbers and there are many forms of entertainment in place.

 The change of the venue beginning in 2014 was a great service to the Kass International Marathon, and as the organizer promised, the marathon seems to be becoming better and better each year.

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