When Margaret Kenyatta, the wife of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, lines up next month for the inaugural First Lady’s Half-Marathon in Nairobi, she'll be in very fast company.
That’s because former world marathon record-holders Tegla Loroupe and Catherine Ndereba—Kenyan natives seen as two of the greatest distance runners of all time—have signed on to run with the First Lady in the event, due to take place on March 9.
Of course, Kenyatta won't be chasing a spot on the podium. The purpose of the race is to raise money for properly equipped mobile health clinics in all 47 of Kenya’s counties, and the presence of two national heroes is sure to help the cause.
Kenyatta is in it to win it for her country, not for herself, you might say, and she’s also prepping for the London Marathon, which she plans to run in April.
According to David Okeyo, the vice president in charge of administration at Athletics Kenya, organizers are planning to start small but grow the event in the coming years, when they’ll have a better sense of logistics.
“We are liaising with relevant authorities to ensure all goes well with the first edition before we make it bigger next year,” Okeyo told Capital FM. “We invite everybody to turn up, since there will be a lot of activities going on.”
The deadline to register is March 2, and individuals and corporate teams can reserve their spots for about $11.60 and $1,158, respectively. The male and female winners of the half-marathon will each pocket roughly $2,316, while the 10-kilometer champ gets $1,158.
As with many major races these days, security will be tight, and Nairobi Area Traffic boss Musyoki Mutungi says it’s not simply because the First Lady will be among the participants.
Police, like Athletics Kenya organizers, want the First Lady’s Half-Marathon to be safe and enjoyable for all runners, and to that end, they’ll close major thoroughfares like Mombasa Road for much of the day.
“The event will be secured, since we will not take any thing for granted; there will be thorough screening before entering the venue,” Mutungi said.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg