The Nairobi Marathon will return for elite athletes in October ©Getty Images

The Nairobi Marathon is to return on October 31 after a two-year absence, with last year’s event cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The race is sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank and has been held annually since 2003 - with the exception of 2020.

This year’s physical event will only be open to 2,500 elite runners only, with a remote alternative available for other participants.

Relay races over 10 kilometres, 21 km and 42km will also be held.

The marathon course will set up on Nairobi’s Southern Bypass, starting and finishing at the Carnivore Gardens and taking in views of Nairobi National Park.

To be invited to the physical marathon, men need to have recorded a time of 2 hours 20min 0sec of better in 2019, while the cut-off time for women will be 2:30:00.

Kenyan athletes will be selected based on Athletics Kenya’s database, training camps and previous marathons in the country.

Athletics Kenya will communicate with other national bodies to determine eligible international athletes.

A series of warm-up races are also scheduled to enable athletes to practice with their fellow runners, trainers and coaches.

The Nairobi Marathon is sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank ©Getty Images
The Nairobi Marathon is sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank ©Getty Images

The virtual event will run from October 25 to 31, and it is hoped that 13,500 runners will take part. 

Participants can choose one of five challenges on the Strava app, 5km or any of the physical race distances.

Times for the virtual event will be recorded through Strava, and runners who complete their challenge will receive a reward. 

These prizes include Strava virtual badges, a premium subscription to the app for a year, places at physical warm-up races, shopping vouchers and Liverpool FC merchandise.

As reported by Capital Sports, chief executive of Standard Chartered Kariuki Ngari said during the launch of the events: "Upon cancellation of the marathon last year, we took time to engage with a couple of stakeholders and gained some useful insights for future marathons.

"One of the key things that came up was the adoption of virtual marathons and the emergence of virtual running communities across the world. This has been reflected in our hybrid marathon this year which will allow for virtual participation. We have also considered key issues such as safety and have consequently set up measures to ensure Covid safety protocols are observed during the marathon.

"Last year, a number of elite runners were affected due to the cancellation and we stepped up to offer financial and educational support through the KipKeino Foundation. We look forward to seeing many of them participate in this year's marathon and we will keep working towards ensuring our athletes are well equipped to perform well."

Brimin Kipkorir won the men’s Nairobi Marathon the last time it was held in 2019 with a time of 2:10:43, while Purity Jebichii triumphed in the women’s race in 2:30:34.