Due to the economic crisis linked to Covid-19, the 2021 Kigali International Peace Marathon, scheduled for June 20, will only cost Rwf200 million, down from Rwf400 million spent in the last edition, the Rwanda Athletics Federation (RAF) has said.
When the 2019 Kigali International Peace Marathon came to an end, RAF wanted to increase the budget to Rwf1 billion for the 2020 edition.
Unfortunately, the 2020 edition didn't happen after all sporting events were halted due to the covid-19 pandemic and the persistent impact of the pandemic prompted organisers to instead reduce the budget by half of what has been earmarked in 2019.
Fidele Mubiligi, the president of RAF, told Times Sport that the athletics governing body was already considering to increase the prizes for best performing athletes in both the marathon and half-marathon categories with a target to earn a 'Label' status that would see it become one of the World Athletics Label Road Races recognized by the World Athletics governing body (IAAF).
"We wanted to increase the prizes so that our tournament gets a 'Label' status because the more a competition earns a label, the more it attracts top athletes. The current situation didn't allow us to increase the budget but we hope to achieve our target in future editions," Mubiligi said in an interview.
The budget deficit has therefore affected the value for prizes where the gold medal winner in the half-marathon category will take home Rwf 1.5m down from Rwf 3 million awarded to last edition's winner. The first and second runners-up will pocket Rwf1 million and Rwf 800 000 respectively.
Meanwhile, in the Marathon category, the winner of the race will be awarded Rwf 3 million, down from USD 5000 given to last edition's gold medalist. The second and third-ranked runners will get Rwf2 million and Rwf1 million respectively. Attracting top runners
Mubiligi revealed that this year's edition of the Peace Marathon will be a different one in terms of competition given that it expects to host top athletes managed by renowned management companies, to participate in it.
For instance, renowned management company Global Sports, which currently manages top athletes including Kenya long-distance runners Elliud Kichoge, Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, has registered five of its athletes to compete at the forthcoming Peace Marathon.
Mubiligi said their participation in the race is a big boost for the competition itself and a call for local athletes to challenge them and show their managers their capabilities at big occasions.
"It's not only an occasion for them to prepare for the Olympic Games but it's also a chance for our event to attract the attention from more top runners as well as an opportunity to bring established managers on the ground to scout best performing athletes, including Rwandans, from our competition," he said.
Over a thousand athletes have so far registered. Over 300 athletes, of whom 200 are foreign participants, will compete in half Marathon while over a hundred have so far registered for the full Marathon category.
The Athletics federation expects to receive a smaller number of entries for the race to ensure that it registers a number of participants it can control and reduce the risks of spreading covid-19.