|An elderly but seasoned marathoner aged 82, is congratulated by Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore after finishing the 21 km race.|
It is rugged, fun and breath-taking. As one of the extraordinary endurance marathons in the world, the Safaricom Lewa Marathon continues to challenge long distance runners and thrill athletic fans and spectators, writes ALLAN OLINGO
From walkers to fun runners, amateurs, world-renowned professionals, jokers and spectators, runners of all abilities take part in Safaricom Lewa Marathon, one of the most anticipated sporting and social events held within a wildlife conservancy.
We left for the Lewa Conservancy on a cold Friday morning and it was encouraging to see participants full of great expectations as they waited to run side by side with the wild animals.
Located in northern Kenya, the Lewa Conservancy which is about four hours drive and a 45-minute flight from Nairobi is home to the almost extinct gravy zebra and black rhinos, which are now under a 24 hour security surveillance.
Five hours later, we arrived at the main gate and underwent a thorough security check before we drove into the conservancy. On the way we were met by a huge herd of giraffes and zebras that seemed comfortable with us driving right by them.
By the time we reached our residence, the Safaricom village, everyone was excited. The race the next day was going to be interesting!
I had never attempted the Lewa Marathon as a runner. It needs a good mental shape to participate leave alone win!
This marathon is not for jokers, especially if you are determined to finish it. It requires good preparation. My contribution to the marathon was to cheer the teams and individuals who participated in the actual event, from the sidelines. Such brave souls!
Morning came and the sound of the choppers flushed me out of my tent. Because the Lewa Conservancy is on the leeward side of Mount Kenya, the cold was at another level. My colleagues and I unanimously opted to suspend any ‘showering’ activity till a favourable time. It never came, at Lewa. Well, that’s a story for another day.
The race kicked of at 7am and it did not fail to thrill. The race had garnered fans and supporters from across the globe. Running on rough terrain and under harsh climatic conditions, the Lewa Marathon has gained a reputation as one of the ten toughest marathon events in the world.