It was a spectacular sight to watch Tsavo 84km relay contest inside Tsavo Sanctuary in Taita Taveta County yesterday.
For a while, the unthinkable looked real. For a while, a great day looked destined for something beyond the wildest dreams.
The scenery is certainly beautiful but for some it was too beautiful. But athletes braved the hot weather conditions for a worthy cause -to conserve wild life at the Tsavo National Park, which stretches across 12 counties.
The competition in which Standard Group was the media sponsor attracted runners from different companies at the Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge.
Kenya Defence Force (KDF) scooped most of the top positions.
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KDF's Evans Kiplangat, Titus Cheruo, Nicodemus Musau, Dennis Kirui, Julius Kiprop and Eliud Kosgey sealed the top six spots.
In women category, Elizabeth Pili of Mariakani Garrison won as Sophie Keya (KDF) and Hope Kiriga of Coast Institute of Technology followed.
Cliff Ondicho and Robert Deloria of Teita Estate won the civilian men category.
Tsavo Heritage Foundation Chairman Jacob Mwaluda said proceeds from the competition will be used to fund foundation projects in the 12 counties of Tsavo National Park.
Mwaluda said environmental degradation has impacted negatively on the ecosystems of Tsavo National Park.
"We must restore Tsavo ecosystem for sustainable livelihoods," he said.
Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu, Tana River, Taita Taveta, Kitui, Makueni, Nairobi, Machakos, Kajiado and Garissa are the 12 counties covered by Tsavo National Park.
He said the foundation intends to plant 40 million tree seedlings at Tsavo park in the next five years.
Willy Mwadilo, General Manager of Sarova Taita Hills Lodge, said: "It was incredible to see runners struggling to cope with the heat," Mwadilo said.
Other sponsors were Taita University, Coca Cola, Agua Water company, Utalii College, International Hotel Tourism Institute, Sarova Hotels, Mash Bus company and Saracen Media. [Ernest Ndunda]