Former two-time World marathon champions Abel Kirui and Catherine Ndereba are set for the inaugural Afrika Mashariki Fest Half Marathon due December 11 this year in Mombasa.
Kirui, the 2009 and 2011 World champion, said the race is part of his preparations to make his third appearance at next year’s London Marathon set for April 23. He finished fifth at the 2010 London Marathon, before failing to finish in the 2011 race.
A good performance in London for Kirui, who claimed his first major when he won this year’s Chicago Marathon on October 9, should see him seal a place in Team Kenya’s marathon team for the World Championships due August next year in London.
“It hurt me and I felt like crying when I saw my colleagues fall short at the World marathon title in 2013 Moscow and 2015 Beijing,” said Kirui.
“I thank God that I have fully recovered and I hope to make the team for my third World title,” explained Kirui, the 2012 London Olympics silver medallist.
Kirui is also set to return to Barcelona Half Marathon in February ahead of the London Marathon.
The 34-year-old Police sergeant has a personal best of 1:00:11 from the 2007 Rotterdam Half Marathon.
“Let no one tell you that I have quit. I am still active and ready for the race as I prepare for the next move next season,” said Ndereba, the 2003 Paris and 2007 Osaka World marathon champion.
Kirui, who is a member of the Afrika Mashariki Fest and Ndereba, the Africa Mashariki Fest Kenya Chapter President, were speaking on Wednesday during the launch of the Afrika Mashariki Fest Kenya Chapter at Riadha House.
Ndereba and Kirui are among over 1,000 athletes expected for the race, whose men and women winners will get Sh60,000 each.
Registration is on at Riadha House and Mombasa County Stadium respectively at a fee of Sh1,000. The 10km race will be held alongside the half marathon race.
Present during the launch were Athletics Kenya President Lieutenant General (rtd) Jackson Tuwei, Africa Mashariki Fest CEO Kisembo Tendo, Miss Tourism Kenya Wendy Rabella and Miss Tourism Kenya director Alice Kamunge among others.
Tendo said his organisation, which was launched in 2014, is a voluntary non-partisan regional youth platform who believe the youth must be the vanguard of the East African Community integration.
“We want the youth to embrace regional integration through art, sports and advocacy platforms as we pursue to be EAC extension partners,” said Tendo, who flanked by members from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Tuwei hailed the initiative saying it will help the youth embrace sports and peace across the region.
Miss Tourism Kenya noted that a successful marathon will go a long way in reaffirming to the world that Kenya is a peaceful country.