The First StanChart Marathon In The Pandemic

By Ndugu Abisai

The First StanChart Marathon In The Pandemic

Arguably the biggest single-day sporting event in the country, the Standard Chattered Nairobi Marathon is set to make a comeback this October after a nearly two-year break occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. This will be the 18th edition of the run with the first edition having taken place in 2003 in Nairobi. Collectively, the seventeen editions have attracted over 250,000 participants some of whom have been elite athletes of international repute. Notable names to have won the marathon include Brimin Kipkorir (The second fastest 3000M steeplechase athlete in history), Purity Jebichi among others. 

Image from a past marathon

The winners walk away with prize money, with the last marathon in 2019, having a Ksh. 2 million prize for the winners. But that is never the goal. The goal is to actively involve communities around the world where the bank has reached in raising money towards given courses. For years, the campaign has been dubbed “See first” Which is aimed at sight restoration for hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries—mostly children with various sight problems. Through their Seeing is Believing (SiB) initiative, the bank has been able to reach and assist 176 Million people with avoidable blindness raising in excess of USD. 100 million between 2003 and 2018.

This year’s event is different. Both in organization and in purpose. For a start, it is the very first event of its kind in the country post covid. Meaning the organizers spent hours on hours preparing for an event that will have the same illustrious pomp but still adhere to the new ways of living in the wake of a worldwide pandemic. They are calling it the hybrid marathon. What this means is that the event will be held in two tiers, one a virtual event going on over a number of days, and a one day on course event with a limited number of participants.

How does one participate in either? To participate in the virtual race, one must first register for a category. For this year there are 4 categories, 42KM, 21KM, 10KM and 5KM races, which all incorporate wheelchair races. Once you register here, download the Strava application or your preferred activity tracking application on your phone. From wherever you are, pick a day on the Marathon Week that runs from the 25th – 31st or October 2021 and use the app to track your distance and time then log into your results portal and record the results. The kits are collected on allocated ties for registered participants in Nairobi and shipped to regions outside Nairobi. The good thing about the virtual race is that runners can participate from anywhere in the world, they need not be in Nairobi and need not to follow a strict route and time guidelines. For the physical race the registration process is the same the only difference being, the athletes must run on a given track and a specified time (31st October 2021 from 8:00 AM)

Concerning this year’s event, Peter Gitau, Standard Chartered Bank COO and the Marathon’s organizing committee chairman had this to say, “Hosting the very first hybrid marathon in our country places us in a unique position. We have already identified numerous partnership opportunities that will allow us to bring in more sectors within the support system of athletics in Kenya. One of the new partnerships coming in this year is with the Kenya Forest Services who has diligently served our country through the preservation and promotion of clean green spaces. The warm-up races scheduled in the lead-up of the marathon will allow us to enter into a better-structured partnership to enhance such spaces for safe running while at the same time educating our community on the importance of forest preservation.”

Pre-race warmup

This year’s theme is: Futuremakers.  The Futremakers is an initiative by the bank across the world to foster equality, especially in disadvantaged communities to learn, earn and grow. The Bank has committed to raising USD. 50 million by 2023 to tackle inequality especially among girls and the visually impaired people across the communities it serves partly in line with The United Nation’s SDG 8: “To achieve full and productive employment, and decent work, for all women and men by 2030”

This year’s partners include The Nairobi City County, Kenyatta International Convention Center, Ministry of Sports, AAR Healthcare, Subaru Kenya, Kenya Forestry, Tamarind Group, Athletics Kenya, Dimension Data and Coca-Cola Beverages Africa all working closely to see the success of this year’s event.

So, shall we run—for a good course?