Meru County Government plans to host the first mountain running championship around Mount Kenya in August.
Former marathon veteran Douglas Wakiihuri said part of the plan includes setting up the area as a road running hub for sporting activities in the region.
The 1987 world marathon champion, said the council targets to lobby and bring the world mountain running series to Meru, beginning August this year.
Wakiihuri, who is a member of Meru County Sports Council, said the 13km track for the racers has already been mapped out within the forest and urged the partners to fast-track the proposal. “We did a route a month ago and we have a proper road map. All we are waiting for is the permission to start working on it,” he said.
He said the area targeted is about 2800 meters above sea level—making it challenging for the competitors. With this beautiful mountain, we want to ensure Meru is marked as one of the places to be,” he added.
Meru County Sports Council chairman Joseph Kinyua said that about 50 per cent of the Mt.Kenya sits in Meru and needs to be utilised for the purpose of promoting sports.“As a council, we have a 10-year plan to transform this county into a sporting industry. We want to have more talent tapped from here,” he said.
During a meeting between Meru Sports Council and tourism stakeholders including Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), Meru Governor Murungi Kiraitu said the move was bound to generate revenue for the county.
“Let us look at the broader picture. This will be for the benefit of our future generation and through this kind of event, we are bound to generate funds that will help conserve our forests,” he said.
KFS technical board chair Prof. Joel Lomalong assured that once the legal procedures are put in place, the government help fast track the project and ensure it is held within the stipulated time frame.
“We are in agreement that what they want to do is within the mandate of the KFS which is to conserve, manage and protect the forest and our diversity. So, as long as the intended activities are not going against that, we have no issues,” he said.