2021 Eldoret City Marathon: A Noble Cause Towards Climate Action
On 11 April 2021, an athletic city in Kenya, Eldoret, in Uasin Gishu County, will be holding a one-of-a-kind marathon. Themed “Climate Action,” the 2021 Eldoret City Marathon, will also, for the first time, use a state-of-the-art electronic timing system. An exciting factor about this edition of the climate action marathon is; it will place the small agricultural town in the ranks of other great city marathons in the world. After all, Eldoret is Kenya’s “City of Champions”.
So, why is the marathon themed, “Climate Action”?
Let’s face it, when it comes to climate change, every country in the world seems to be battling its own climate-induced devastating effects. Kenya is also experiencing its fair share of environmental issues, including deforestation, water shortage, landslides, desertification, flooding, domestic and industrial pollution. In collaboration with the county government of Uasin Gishu, the Eldoret City marathon organizers and sponsors have taken it upon themselves to spearhead this course uniquely.
UNDP Climate Action Goal 13
While the marathon in itself is a great initiative nurturing new talent into Kenyan athletics, it’s hard to ignore the undertones of the initiative; Climate Action. According to UNDP’s Goal 13, climate action means the stepped-up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-induced impacts, including; climate-related hazards in all nations, by conducting climate change measures into national policies, improving education, strategizing, and planning.
Environmentalists and conservationists need to note that It’s not the first time the Eldoret City Marathon is pushing for climate change. So far, the event is responsible for the planting and distribution of more than 2 million tree seedlings since its first edition in 2018—a notable gesture.
Eldoret City Marathon is the highest paying in Africa
The Eldoret City marathon will have two 42Km races and a 5Km fun race. The second edition of the race held in 2018 and sponsored by the Uasin Gishu government was dubbed the richest marathon in Africa. This year the organizers have stepped a notch higher. The 2021 marathon (third edition) will yet again be the highest paying in Africa, with winners of the 42Km races, both men and women walking away with $35,000 or KES 3.5 million. The top 20 finishers in the 42Km races will also receive cash awards, while the 5Km fun race will be awarded gift hampers from sponsors.
There’s a lot of anticipation and excitement about this year’s marathon, and mainly because last year’s event was regrettably postponed due to the global pandemic. According to the race director Moses Tanui, this year’s edition of the marathon comes with better perks for competitors. It will be recognized as a qualifying event by the Abbot World Marathon Majors.
For the Eldoret City Marathon Organizers and sponsors, this is a significant step towards eventually ranking the event amongst the most prestigious marathons globally, including the London, Berlin, New York, Boston, Tokyo, and Chicago marathons.
Greece, through its consulate, will be partnering with Eldoret City Marathon third edition to plant at least 2,000 tree seedlings that will be donated at Eldoret Arboretum on race day. According to the marathon organizers, they will follow all government laid out Covid 19 protocols, and no spectators will be allowed on race day. The marathon will be broadcasted live on a local TV channel, and spectators will be urged to watch from their homes’ comfort.
Climate risk impact in Kenya
Climate risk is a serious issue affecting African countries and Kenya in particular. According to USAID’s climate risk assessment study done in 2019, climate change will harm three key sectoral areas in northern Kenya’s ASLs (arid and semi-arid lands); agriculture and livelihoods, health and nutrition; and water resources. Uasin Gishu County and its neighbors directly affect food security in Kenya’s ASLs since they act as water towers.
The “Climate Action” marathon organized by Eldoret City Marathon in collaboration with the Uasin Gishu government is a bold move in a positive direction amidst a pandemic. The initiative, the first of its kind in the country, is a commendable gesture that has put Eldoret, “City of Champions,” on the map among others like the One Running Movement, Dartington trust Marathon, 2020 Xiamen City Marathon, and the 2021 San Francisco Marathon.
We hope other counties can borrow a leaf from this initiative towards climate action for sustainability, food security, and conservation of Kenya’s natural resources.