Nairobi — Former world record holder Wilson Kipsang and Sarah Chepchirchir have been rewarded with a fully paid vacation to top tourist destinations in Kenya, courtesy of the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB).
The two stars, who won and set course records at the 2017 Tokyo Marathon in February, become the first beneficiaries of the programme initiated by KTB in effort to recognize achievements of Kenya's marathon champions and their contribution in enhancing Kenya's tourism positioning globally.
The initiative will see KTB award each marathon champion a fully-paid vacation to top tourist destinations in Kenya.
And with Kipsang and Chepchirchir being picked as lucky winners, the two and their families will spend two days at the Maasai Mara National Reserve and another two days in Diani and the Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park.
Kipsang and Chepchirchir won and set course records at the Tokyo Marathon clocking 2:03:58 in the men's category and 2:19:47 in the women's category as Kenya swept the podium in the men's race.
Kipsang who was present to receive his award on Thursday welcomed the move.
"I'm privileged and honoured to be among the first marathoners to be rewarded by KTB. We thank KTB for recognizing that we are in a position to show the best of Kenya to the rest of the world," the 2014 Berlin Marathon champion said.
KTB Chief Executive Officer, Betty Radier says the programme is recognition of the important role Kenyan athletes play in selling Kenya abroad.
"Kenyan marathon champions are undoubtedly our nation's best ambassadors given that the races they participate in are held across Kenya's key tourist source markets," she said.
"Our champion athletes rub shoulders with ordinary citizens in the cities hosting the races as well as with professional athletes from other nations," she stated.
"As the body mandated with the task of marketing Kenya's tourism products, we recognize the huge profile that our athletic heroes occupy on the world stage. We believe that it is time to involve our athletes in making a pitch for the country as the Magical Kenya brand ambassadors," the KTB CEO added.
The 2017 season has been successful for the Kenyans as they topped in London, Frankfurt, Boston, Berlin and Chicago.