As has lately been realised by Government operatives and bodies tasked with promoting Kenya as nation brand, the use of sports is gaining credence and a focal point. As the Brand Kenya officials noted, it is important to leverage the country especially as it looks to mark some important milestones with an election next year as it moves to the next 50 years.
Sport has been known to unify the most warring of states and Kenya is no exception. As such some Kenyan entrepreneur who works in the US, one Wilson Kiriungi ,Marco Peterson(former IT entrepreneur) and Benjamin Rapoport (a medical practitioner) have come up with a organisation, Run With Kenyans. The motivation behind this organisation is to ride on the wave of Kenyan marathoners/athletes who have been winners of various top marathons across the world.
Using the goodwill built by the athletes, the organisation will target US recreational marathoners (the US has approximately 48 million of these, 15 million who run at least 10 times annually in the half & full marathons across the States). These runners are from the upper middle class to the affluent thus making good targets fpr sports tourism.
Starting with the Boston Marathon, reputedly the oldest marathon in the world and which coincidentally has been won by Kenyans since 1991 (including a current sitting MP for Emgwen - Elijah Langat in 2000) ; the plans are to have a Kenyan House stand at the preceding Expo of the Marathon. This expo usually has an average attendance of 80,000. Replicating this across major marathons including the Chicago, New York, London among others.
The other benefit is to pitch to the Kenyans living in the diaspora to cheer on their compatriots and also participate in the marathon(s).
|Robert 'Mwafrika' Cheruiyot - one of the past winners - Boston Marathon|
We do wish them well in their endeavours and kudos to Brand Kenya for taking this initiative. This should not be the last of such ideas and the potent of sport is huge. If they can keep luring Government operatives away from the politics to focus more on such developments, the country will be all the better for this.