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NAIROBI, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- More than 20,000 runners have registered to take part in the 14th edition of the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon scheduled for Sunday.

The chairman of the local organizing committee Peter Gitau told journalists on Friday that last year's winners Joshua Kipkorir and Elizabeth Rumokol are among the runners who have enlisted for the annual event.

"This year's event promises to be very competitive as more elite runners have registered to take part in the race, whereas last year's winners have vowed to give their all to defend their titles," Gitau said.

About 700 athletes have registered for the full marathon; 7,000 for the half marathon; 8,000 for 10km; whereas the 5km and wheelchair races will take up the balance of the competitors, said Gitau.

All the proceeds from the race will be used to fund the bank's 'Seeing is Believing' initiative which is focused on eradication of avoidable blindness in Kenya. Since the inception of the event in 2003, more than one million US dollars have been raised to sponsor cataract, glaucoma and trauma-related surgeries for 6,000 needy children.

Last year's event had its fair share of drama when one shady character named Julus Njogu, stood strategically at the entrance of Nyayo Stadium (which was the finish line) waiting for an opportunity to jump into the race at the last minute.

Armed with full racing gear complete with bib number, Njogu jumped into the men's 42km line behind the runner who was headed for the runners-up position and almost whizzed past the winner.

To hide his craftiness, Njogu splashed himself with water to camouflage that body which had neither sweat nor the white body salt normally exuded by athletes after a race. He was promptly arrested after this stunt.

Organizers have promised that this year's race will be devoid of such incidents during the event which is expected to raise about 400,000 US dollars for charity.

The Nairobi County Traffic Commandant Leonard Katana reported that roads along the race route will be closed between 4.00am and 1.00pm local time.

ARUSHA B.J. Hill Jersey , Tanzania, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- It is a wildlife sanctuary for almost every creature one can find on the African soil, yet its beauty has not received the attention it deserves from local and foreign tourists.

The 23-year-old Udzungwa Mountains National Park (UMNP) covers an area of 1,990 square kilometers and its name is probably a linguistic mismatch possibly by the Germans in reference of the word "Wasungwa", one of the tribes who live on the slopes of the mountains.

It is located 60 km south of Mikumi National Park along the Mikumi-Ifakara road and about 380 km from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania' s commercial capital.

It was declared a national park in 1992 by Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld of Netherlands, the founder of World Wide Fund (WWF).

The park has many unique and endemic plants, mammals, birds, amphibian, reptiles and butterflies that enrich its status. This is what makes it one of the most important parks in Tanzania.

Apart from other tourist attractions, the park is well-known for six primate species which were recorded, five of which are endemic. The Iringa Red Colobus and Sanje Crested Mangabey can not be seen anywhere else in the country.

"The mountains are perhaps the most important site in Africa for primate conservation," says Happiness Kiemi, the tourism promotion officer of the park.

It is also one of Tanzania's key sanctuaries of birds as it embraces more than 400 species from the lovely and easily located green-headed oriole to more than a dozen secretive Eastern Arc endemic birds.

Despite all the richness in biodiversity and the gorgeous physical outlook, the park has not yet attracted a reasonable number of tourists consistent with its place in global tourism.

With the tourism sector ranked the third after mining and agriculture in the importance of the country's economy, the Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa), the management authority of all the 16 national parks across Tanzania, is hopeful that southern Tanzania's tourist sites like UMNP can change the status quo.

Comparisons with a smaller park in northern part of the country do not make any good reading for Tanzania as far as income generation is concerned.

For instance, Lake Manyara National Park of roughly 330 square kilometers, which is much smaller than UMNP, attracts more than 130,000 foreign tourists - 10 percent of Tanzania's annual tourist arrivals.

Surprisingly, UMNP only boasts of 7,500 to 8,000 foreign tourists per annum, the number of which is very small.

Additionally, the park enjoys peace with beautiful environment, climate, as well as friendly people that could be a key in promoting tourism to unprecedented levels.

Kiemi describes the area as unique and there are ornithologists who think that the park is an avian wealth.

"There are so many things to do once you get into the park and one of them is a two-hour hike to the waterfall for camping safaris, bird watching, game drives and game viewing," she says.

"As park management authority, we have tried to create trails that make visitors ramble to Sanje and Msolwa waterfalls and the more challenging two nights Mwanihana trail that leads to high plateau with panoramic views surrounding sugarcane plantation and the highest point in the Eastern Arc ranges," she says.

"Our interest is to ensure that all tourist facilities are improved, so that more tourists will come here and enjoy the nature," she says.

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