When the first coronavirus case was reported in March, Eldoret City Marathon organisers were dazed.
They were forced back to the drawing board after President Uhuru Kenyatta issued measures on Covid-19 prevention.
They then made an obtuse thought: to plant trees at Kaptagat and Kapseret forests –where world’s top athletes including Eliud Kipchoge, Geoffrey Kamworor and, by extension, Uganda’s newly crowned world 5000m record holder Joshua Cheptegei train.
Moses Tanui, the two-time Boston Marathon and race director, said they opted to support environmental conservation.
“A conducive environment is always behind the success of every athlete. Since the race could not take place, we opted to plant trees. We want to plant more trees not only in this region but the whole country,” he said.
“We want to make Eldoret City Marathon a model for Africa. Look at Boston, it was started 120 years ago and still continue to attract the whole world. We want our race to remain for posterity,” added Tanui, the 1991 world 10000m champion.
The race in which its course is almost similar to the well-heeled big city marathons –run within the town’s suburbs –attracts more than 2,000 entrants and well over 50,000 spectators. It’s elevation, which stands at 2,100 metres above sea level, is quite punishing.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago praised the contribution of Eldoret City Marathon towards enhancement of forest cover.
“The Eldoret City Marathon management has demonstrated commitment through tree planting drives that has been a boost to environmental conservation efforts towards mitigating climate change effects,” said Mandago.
Uasin Gishu County Government and Standard Group are co-sponsors of the Eldoret City Marathon held annually with a prize money of Sh3 million for winners.
Speaking during the planting of more than 10,000 seedlings at Kapseret Forest in Uasin Gishu, Mandago said the county will support the initiative.