Athletics Kenya and Safaricom Limited have launched the Safaricom Athletics Series.The series will involve 14 major local races including road races, half marathons and full marathons.
Safaricom have sponsored the series to the tune of Sh23m.The events are also divided into two--eight AK sanctioned races and six corporate social responsibility races.
They AK events include Mombasa International and Kisumu City Marathons; Madoka and Kisii half marathons; Ndalat Gaa Cross country, Gusii Golden series, Imenti South Road race and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Memorial race.
The charity events are Iten road race, Kericho Great Run, Henry Wanyoike Hope for the future run, Kapenguria Peace race and Kass marathon.
Also included in the sponsorship are the Deaf Athletics Association of Kenya (DAAK) deaf track and field national championships set for this weekend at the Nyayo Stadium.
Safaricom director of Marketing, Rita Okuthe, said the events will also have a jackpot of Sh600,000 for the marathons and half marathons while the road races and the cross country events will attract Sh400,000 . The amount will be shared equally between the top men and women's team. Rita said a team will have to participate in at least five races to score.
"A team will have to enter four athletes to score and the team with the least cumulative time at the end of the season will be rewarded with the jackpot," said Evans Bosire, the AK public relations officer.
Kenyan athletics legends Tegla Loroupe, Paul Tergat and Henry Wanyoike, who sponsor some of the community races said the move will help unearth more talents in the long distance races.
"Athletes do not win gold for themselves," said Loroupe, a former world half marathon champion. Multiple paralympics gold medallist Wanyoike, said just like in competitive races, where there are pace setters, Safaricom have set the pace and other corporates should come up and support the initiative.
"We have yearned for these series for so long," said Tergat a former five-time cross country champion.
"We hope that this will be done in the long term."
Meanwhile, Wency Wabwire won the 1,500m as the Busia County Youth polytechnics athletics and ball games started in Busia
yesterday. Wabwire, 24, from Esidende Polytechnic, led a pack of over 40 runners to win in 3:52.0, six seconds ahead of team-mate Peter Owuor.
Wabwire ran as a guest runner during the Prisons Championships at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi and finished second.
In boys' 10,000m, Justus Erick from Nambale won in 16:23.75. He was followed in second place by team-mate Benjamin Esamai and Francis Ndege from Esidende.
Albert Okello from Nangina won the men's 5,000m in 15:13.0. and was followed in second place by Samson Karani from Amagoro. Esidende's Godfrey Ouko was third.
The girls' event was won by Triza Akinyi from Nangosia in 22:04.0. Velma Nabwire from Nangina was second with Busagwa's Belinda Oduory taking third position. The Games County chairman Henry Ogesa said 18 youth polys are taking part in the games that will end tomorrow. Ogesa said Busia will again host the Inter County Games on June 26-29 with Mombasa staging national finals in September.