Nairobi: Kenya`s organisers of the famous Stanchart Nairobi International Marathon are targeting a record entry of 20,000 for the Oct 28 event that will celebrate its tenth anniversary this year.
Race chairman Richard Mbindu told reporters here Thursday that they were confident of getting past last year`s number of 17,000 participants.
Approximately USD 508,235 was realised from 13 sponsors with the title sponsors weighing in with USD 941,176 for a total sponsorship package of USD 1.449 million for the event ran on a looping course around Nairobi.
"Our aim remains making this the biggest marathon in Africa. We have come a long way and we are heading towards achieving that," Mbindu said.
"The challenge should be how our partners can benefit from the event all year round as opposed from meeting every October to plan the event. Supporting companies should seek to make the most out of the resources they put towards the continued success."
Athletics Kenya secretary general David Okeyo said the federation has intentions of moulding the event as a showpiece of the sport in the country.
"When we started ten years ago, we had many wars to overcome with the churches and it was difficult to keep it going. Ten years later, it stands as the biggest athletics event in our calendar," he added.
"We are still not 100 percent and we will seek to work on where we have failed each year to make it better and in the long term, our mission is to make it one of the biggest marathons in the world at the home of distance running," Okeyo emphasised.
Ernest Kebenei and Margaret Karie Toroitich were coroneted as the men`s and women`s 42km winners last year with 2:10:54 and 2:30:17 to scoop the top prize of USD 17,647 each.
Commonwealth Games women`s champion Irene Jerotich remains the only former winner, having won in 2006 and 2009 besides finishing as runner-up in 2005 and 2008 to make her the most decorated runner at the event.
Organisers were forced to change the route in the second edition in 2004 after churches around Nairobi voiced their opposition to the original course that snaked through most part of the Kenyan capital, claiming the chosen Sunday event day was blocking worshippers from accessing their worship places.
The current course loops along the Uhuru Highway/Mombasa Road twice for the main marathon before ending at the Nyayo National Stadium in a closed circuit.