|Where:||Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya|
Tusk’s Safaricom Marathon — renowned as one of the world’s top ten marathons — highlights the strengths of Kenya. Setting it apart from other events is the significant impact that it has on communities — giving back hundreds of thousands of dollars to community development, education, healthcare, and wildlife conservation initiatives across Kenya.
The Safaricom Marathon was first held at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in 2000 with 150 participants. In 2017 the event attracted 1,400 runners and raised more than £350,000 for projects across Kenya.
The event is run within the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and through some of East Africa’s most beautiful scenery. Mount Kenya lies to the south and there are breathtaking views north towards Samburu and Mount Ololokwe. The heavily protected 61,000 acre conservancy is home to over 100 rhino, herds of elephant, giraffe, buffalo, the rare Grevy’s zebra and much more.
The 2017 Safaricom Marathon
The 18th Safaricom Marathon, hosted by Tusk and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, took place on Saturday 24th June and once again attracted approximately 1,400 runners, of which almost 100 completed the full marathon.
For a record-breaking 5th time, Philemon Baaru once again won the men's full marathon, crossing the finish line in 2 hours, 22 minutes, just a few minutes short of his course record of 2:18 that he set in 2014. With a time of 2:38, Margaret Lepakana was the fastest woman in the full marathon, and the half marathon was won by Philemon Kiprono in 1:06.
Approximately 200 overseas runners took part, including teams from Artemis Investment Management LLP, BlackRock, EMSO Asset Management, and UBS. BlackRock won the fundraising trophy, and Huawei once again gave a very generous donation of $100,000 (£77,000). All teams and individuals have raised a phenomenal amount for conservation in Kenya, and once all funds are in we hope to have raised more than $500,000 (£385,000).
The overseas runners were able to see firsthand some of the initiatives that the funds they have raised will support. These include some of the schools supported by the Lewa Education Programme, water projects, the Lewa Health Clinic, the Lewa Conservation Education Centre, and an elephant corridor and road underpass that connects Lewa to Mount Kenya to the south. Before they left on the day after the run, the runners were also given a short demonstration by the Lewa rangers and tracker dogs. Such demonstrations and visits underline the importance of the event in protecting wildlife and transforming people’s lives.
Over the last 18 years the event has transformed countless lives and invested over USD 5 million into Kenya. We hope this year will be as successful as ever. Blackrock, the team that won the prize for the most funds raised, have contributed an astonishing USD 150,000 thus far. In the coming months we will know the total amount raised by the event this year. The results will soon be published on the Tusk and Safaricom Marathon websites with details about how the funds will be distributed between the various beneficiaries.
As with previous years, the funds raised will go to benefit a wide range of conservation and community programmes across Kenya. Thousands of children in a number of schools will receive new classrooms and improved facilities; numerous pastoral communities to the north of Lewa will see benefits as marathon funds will support a range of initiatives designed to improve lives and increase security for both people and wildlife. Tusk will also direct considerable funds into rhino and elephant conservation at Lewa as well as a variety of other critical projects spread across the country.
The course is set on dirt roads over an undulating 13-mile course through the reserve, across savannah plains, along river banks and through acacia woodland before finishing close to Lewa’s headquarters. The full marathon is two laps of the same course.
The race begins in the early morning before the heat of the sun gets too much. The altitude (Lewa is at 5,550ft above sea level) adds to the challenge. The course records are 2:18:42 for the full marathon, and 1:05:00 for the half.
Each competitor is asked to raise a minimum of £1,500 for Tusk.
The full results of the 2017 Safaricom Marathon can be viewed by clicking the following links: