I heard the news about the cancelation of the 2020 Nairobi Marathon through the social media, and as though they knew that it would be hard for me to believe it, I just checked my email and got the message below:
Thank you for your continued support towards the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon. We have been closely monitoring how Covid-19 has impacted large scale public events worldwide and in Kenya. Naturally, this raised concerns for our marathon.
When we consulted with Athletics Kenya and the Ministry of Sports it was evident that we would not be able to plan for a physical event with any certainty. We then considered a virtual marathon event and consulted other stakeholders, amongst them, individual runners, running clubs, coaches and past corporate running teams. After benchmarking with local and international virtual races our conclusion was that this format promoted improved safety but for it to be successful it still required the majority of participants to leave their homes in order to cover the race distances; a move that could compromise COVID-19 preventive measure protocols.
We have therefore made the decision to cancel the 2020 edition of the marathon. This was not an easy decision to make as we have held the marathon annually for 17 years, and 2020 was to be no different. However, the depth and scale of COVID - 19 is unprecedented and remains hard to predict.
Despite this outcome, the process taken to arrive at this decision has provided us with useful insights that will be taken on board for future marathons. For instance, across the country, people are taking up running to support their health and wellbeing, from running tracks, to neighbourhood pavements and even their own compounds. Also, digital and virtual communities are gaining momentum, fostering new interactions, connections and spaces for running enthusiasts, to gather and support each other. And, the resilience and optimism to rise above the challenges of this pandemic are a testament of our collective hope to create a better future for ourselves and others.
Last year, the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon attracted over 17,000 participants and raised over KShs 30 million towards the community investment programme, FutureMakers which provides youth in need with education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. In 2019, these fund raising efforts supported over 4,400 girls with life skills and economic opportunity training and the Bank also invested Kshs15 million to support women-led start-ups. Additionally, more than 650 youth and SMEs received financial literacy training.
Our investment and support to our youth continues this year and, despite COVID-19, we are providing more than 3,500 girls and young women with education and empowerment opportunities. We are investing Kshs15 million to train and grow SME women-led businesses, and we will support over 3,700 young men and women with employment skills, including ably different youth with visual impairments.
Thank you for your continued support towards the marathon and we hope to be back next year, healthy, strong and ready to run for a reason!
Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon Secretariat