The 2018 Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon happens this weekend and here are my thoughts on it
October 22, 2018
Athletes running in a past Nairobi Marathon event
Being arguably the biggest marathon in a country whose athletes dominate the whole world in long distance and road running, it is hard to understand why Nairobi marathon is not part of the biggest marathons in the world. It is further fabling to learn that it is not even one of the IAAF label road races.
The Nairobi Marathon, despite growing and increasing the registration fees each year, still offers the same prize money it used to offer ten years ago. A new race, the Eldoret City Marathon that was just established this year, could manage to pay double that prize for the winners despite the registration being free and still in the early stages of trying to find sponsors to join it. Nairobi Marathon can attract the world’s best runners and get more recognition internationally if it would do something about its prize money structure. The Lagos Marathon in Nigeria, for example, offers a lot much more in prize money despite knowing very well that the money will likely be won by an outsider. Prize money won in the Nairobi marathon is often invested back in the country, and the more reason why the prizes should be increased.
For a race to qualify as an IAAF label race, there are a number of standards to be met. The Nairobi marathon meets most of them, from road closures, to measured and certified course, to availability of water and aid stations, among others.
However, it still lags behind in the recognition and enlisting of elite athletes which seems to come foremost as the first rule to be observed by the IAAF while award races a label. The races should have elite athletes from at least five different nationalities in the men’s as well as the women’s fields. The only way to get these fields is to offer appearance money, or other incentives to attract more international runners.
Another rule that at times brings concern in some of the Kenyan road races, and which the Nairobi Marathon should learn to perfect, is the timely payment of prize money and travel reimbursements to elite runners. The IAAF rule states, “organizers shall pay all sums due to the contracted athletes for reimbursement of expenses and appearance fees and any prize monies and bonus awards within the period of time specified within the contract which is normally 60 days after the receipt of doping control results conducted at the race. Suitable accommodation, meals and transportation shall be provided for the athletes. As a general rule all travel expenses shall be paid upon the athlete’s arrival at the race venue and no later than the day before the athlete’s departure from the race venue.”
For a marathon to be internationally recognized and respected, it should be focused more on the runners.