Upon the official opening, which was graced by the National Sports Council (NSC) chairman and an elite golfer, Dioniz Malinzi, two renowned athletes, Lucian Hombo and Sara Maajar, who emerged winners ( in men and women disciplines, respectively) in the 2003’s first edition appealed to the sponsors, Kilimanjaro Premium Lager, to help in their preparations for the games .
“Kilimanjaro marathon is an event where every athlete wants to be since it is one of the major events in the IAAF’s global sporting calendar of events, for us, it has opened the door to earn calls for international races”, said Maajar.
“As the marathon will go inline with Olympic Games, it will help athletes to test their mettles for the London journey”, said Hombo.
Speaking during the launch, Athletics Tanzania (AT) secretary general, Suleiman Nyambui, who is also a Commonwealth silver medalist said that in a move to enable the Tanzanian athletes to win the titles on the home soil, they have identified 20 runners ( 10 men and 10 women) to undergo scientific training for the medal haul.
The idea of selecting the possible Kili Marathon winners, was also initiated by Juma Ikangaa, a former Boston and Fukuoka marathon winner.
According to Nyambui, the athletes will soon start training at the so-called High Performance Training Centre.
To make things more productive, Malinzi, has personally committed for full support for their smooth training.
“ I will personally give my support for the athletes, we want you to win all the medals on home soil”, said Malinzi.
“It’s painful to see a local official giving medals and cash prizes to foreign runners, let’s work effectively on this winning strategy”, he said.
“And it will be good enough if our former athletics heroes in the likes of Ikangaa, Filbert Bayi, John Bayo will be involved for technical support and advice to our runners”, he said.
Aggrey Marealle, who is the managing director of Executive Solutions, a PR firm, which has annually been looking for sponsors and help in collaboration with a South Africa based firm, Wild Frontiers said that about 10,000 athletes from more than 35 countries from different continents are expected to participate in the event, which is now rated among the top in Africa and the biggest in East and Central Africa.
“ The event has annually been improving, during the inaugural event in 2003, we had 750 athletes, but in last year’s ninth edition, we had 5,000, a number is set to increase as more international athletes have shown interest to join the lucrative race”, said Marealle.
And to make the event more competitive, George Kavishe, a brand manager with Kilimanjaro Premium Lager says that his firm has increased cash prizes by a hundred per cent, as an incentive for the would-be three top full marathon winners.
The idea of doing that, according to him, was based on two main reasons, first celebrating a decade since the race started and marking 50 years of the country’s independence.
Kavishe, whose firm has been sponsoring the event since it started in 2003, said the would be top winner (in both disciplines) will each be awarded Sh6m( from last year’s Sh3m), while the first runner ups (men and women) will each be awarded Sh3m (instead of Sh1.5m set for last year).
The second runner ups will each go away with Sh1,750000 (instead of last year’s Sh850,000).
According to him, there will also be other cash and token prizes for other winners up to tenth.
“We shall be improving it annually to attract top World class runners, encourage record breakers and celebrate a decade of Kilimanjaro marathon”, said Kavishe.
Bon Temu, an official with Gapco, which has come on board for the first time in sponsoring the event’s half marathon for disabled athletes, said that they feel happy to have been associated with the fast growing sporting event.
“We know that disabled athletes have also a major role to play in the strengthening of the race, we shall also offer incentive prizes for the would-be winners”, said Temu.
By venturing into the disabled’s sponsorship, Malinzi hailed the firm adding that he would request the minister responsible for sports, Emmaneul Nchimbi for him as well to request prime minister, Mizengo Pinda to consider reducing taxes for the firms supporting disabled athletes and sports in general.
George Rwehumbiza, an official with Vodacom Tanzania, whose firm has been sponsoring a 5-km fun race said that he feels comfortable for their continued involvement.
“I feel happy with my firm’s sponsorship because the event has been getting milestone and the money we inject was used purposely.
The national sports council chairman, echoed wembiza’s statement adding that it was imperative for sports associations to use the sponsorship they acquire properly.
“To secure sponsorship is not a big deal, what matters is to retain the goodwill of current sponsors and cultivate interest amongst potential ones in future, by spending the funds they get judiciously”, Malizi said.In closing remarks, the director of sports, Leonard Thadeo said that the associations have to learn how to maintain the sponsors for their development.
“ I hail Executive Solutions for their good handling of sponsors who have annually been coming on board, other firms and associations should borrow a leaf from them”, said Thadeo.
He said the Kilimanjaro marathon has been an icon for the country’s tourism sector since it’s held under the shadow of the Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the highest in Africa.
He hailed the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) for being part of the race to make sure the it is highly promoted to attract tourists.
“As many foreign runners assemble for the race, we promote the economy of Kilimanjaro region and that of the country”, said Thadeo.
All in all, the helping the needy community through the race’s realized entrance fees is also recommendable, said Thadeo.
Last year’s event saw Kenyan runners dominate the event, followed by locals Banuelia Brighton, Mary Naali and Stephen Huche in the top slots.
Banuelia, holder of national women’s marathon finished second in the 42km race, clocking 3:02:52 behind Anna Kamau of Kenya whose time of 3:00:16 won her a cool Sh3m- cash prize.
Third placed in the women’s category was Ophra Oruke, also from Kenya, who clocked 3:03:20.
Hundreds of Moshi residents turned up at the MUCCOS grounds, including Information, Youth, Culture and Sports Minister Emmanuel Nchimbi, who was chief guest.
Source: The Citizen Online Newspaper