Nairobi — If you fancy running around an island, the wait is over.
The second Tom Mboya Marathon is on this Friday in Rusinga Island, located 425km from capital Nairobi, with a bumper entry that has topped 1500 entries gearing up for the 21K and 10K senior races.
Mwea Classic and Taita Half marathons winner, Willy Cheruiyot, Great Lakes Marathon titleholder, Amos Chemjor and Weldon Kirui who placed third at the Kass International Marathon will front the men's field for the elite 21K showdown.
Faith Kangongo who scooped the Ndakaini Half title and Pamela Chepchumba who won the Tuskys Wareng 10K road race two weeks ago are the headline acts in the corresponding women's race.
Two-time World marathon gold medallist, Abel Kirui and international female distance runner, Irene Lemika are the ambassadors for the event and will be on hand to offer motivational talks to participants on Friday.
The races that will also include 5K and 2K runs will start at Rusinga Technical Training Institute and end at the Tom Mboya mausoleum where Kenya's most eminent trade unionist and flamboyant former Trade Minister by the same name was interred after his assassination in 1969.
"This is a unique race in Africa where runners compete round an island. 16km will be circling Rusinga Island with the remaining distance accounting for the start and finish," Ken Onyonyi said.
The event organised by Teenagers for Peace (TFP) initiative will see winners of the 21K races pocket Sh150,000 ($1,765) each with runner-up and third place finishers taking home Sh100,000 ($1,176) and Sh75,000 ($882).
Victors in the 10K runs will bag Sh75,000 ($882) apiece with prizes available for the top-15 finishers in the half marathon and shorter races.
"The event's main objective is to give the youth an opportunity to showcase their talent in sport in general and running in particular with some of the proceeds supporting community activities," Diana Onyonyi of TFP said during the launch in Wednesday.
Athletics Kenya general secretary, David Okeyo, announced the event would be an annual affair at the same function.
"We granted organisers a chance to pilot last year and after holding the event successfully, we have now sanctioned it fully and it will feature in our calendar," he added.
With an elongated shape approximately 16 km from end to end and 5 km at its widest point, Rusinga Island lies in the eastern part of Lake Victoria at the mouth of the Winam Gulf and it is linked to Mbita Point on the mainland by a causeway.
Organisers have made boarding and accommodation arrangements for runners hailing outside Homa Bay County with registration free to attract as many entries as possible.
Registration closes on the morning of race day.