The registration for the Safaricom Marathon will be open from 25th of February. The 17th annual Safaricom Lewa Marathon will take place on June 25th 2016 at the Lewa Wildlife conservancy in Isiolo County with this year’s emphasis on community engagement. Last year all the slots were filled in less than 3 hours so anybody who wants to compete needs to download, fill in the forms and take them to Wilson airport where there will be a desk for the Safaricom Lewa Marathon.
Organized by Trust Tusk and Lewa conservancy with the support of Safaricom, the marathon, which has gained recognition for being one of the toughest and most unique races in the world, has seen the marathon grow from a small event with only 180 runners in the year 2000 to over 1400 participants from 35 countries across five continents in 2015.
The marathon has had significant impact on the lives of the communities that live in the Lewa Wildlife conservancy. The conservancy works as a model and a catalyst for the conservation of wildlife and its habitat. It does this through the protection and management of species, the initiation and support of community conservation and development programmes, and the education of neighboring areas in the value of wildlife.
What started out as a 5,000- acre rhino sanctuary has grown to become a leading model for wildlife protection and a catalyst for conservation and community development in the region. Today the Conservancy holds more than 11% of the global wild population of the endangered Grevy’s zebra, over 11 percent of Kenya’s critically endangered black rhino and over 14 percent of Kenya’s white rhino, an abundance of the ‘Big Five’ as well as 70 other large mammal species native to east Africa and a multitude of birdlife.
Since its inception, this unique fundraising event has generated more than $4 million to support a wide range of conservation and community programmes across Kenya. Thousands of children in a number of schools will get new classrooms and improved facilities financed by the ‘Marathon Education Fund.’ Numerous pastoral communities to the north of Lewa will also see benefits as the Community Fund supports a range of initiatives designed to improve lives and increase security for both people and wildlife. Tusk Trust also directs funds into rhino and elephant conservation at Lewa, Turtle conservation in Lamu and a variety of other critical projects spread across the country. This year, Safaricom has given Kshs 30 million towards the marathon.
CEO of Lewa Conservancy Mike Watson said, “Last year our theme was ‘Run for a good cause’ and our focus was on raising funds for wildlife protection and supporting community projects around the conservancy. This year, our theme remains the same because we feel it is important that participants and sponsors understand and participate in this noble cause.”
What really sets the Lewa marathon apart from most of the other marathons held across the globe is that nowhere else in the world is a marathon run across a wildlife conservancy. Instead of hard city streets and concrete blocks, marathon competitors run through Kenyan terrain, surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya to the south and the purple mountains of Shaba, Meru and Samburu to the north. Lewa’s abundant wildlife adds to the spectacular experience and excitement of the event.
There is also something for the less competitive participants, who just want to take part in this unique event. A small town of tents is assembled across the Conservancy and warm bonfires and barbeques are held every night that brings about an experience that is magical and a friendly atmosphere.
As has been tradition, the marathon has three categories that encourages everyone to take part. From children who run in the 5km Fun Run, to walkers, half-marathon runners and also to those who plan to complete the entire 42km of the challenging course.
I am an idealist, an emotional dreamer. A goddess encapsulated in a densely melanated work of art. On normal days, I am an environmental enthusiast, PR practitioner, Events organizer, Coffee addict, Poetry lover. I also sometimes jot down my thoughts at toashtraysandheartbreaks.wordpress.com