Of all the races in the world, the Safaricom Marathon in Lewa has to be amongst the most epic.
In the past 16 years of the marathon, man has been able to run wild and loose, literally. Whilst the team at Lewa ensures that no animals lurk and chase after the runners, the thrill of being able to run free on Kenya’s savannahs entices many. Let’s quickly check out why you should always look to participate in the marathon:
- Run Wild: the searing Kenyan sun might beat down your back, given that you’re probably going to be close to the equatorial line. However, that doesn’t deter many from participating – this year has 1,390 confirmed runners. With the wind at your back, the thought of a predatory lion stalking you must run wild in your imagination, increasing your speed, strength and determination to finish either the 42K full marathon or the 21K half marathon. Thankfully, your imagination tends to run faster than your feet, as the race course is well secured and guarded from seriously dangerous wildlife actually harming you. It hasn’t deterred the occassional gazelle from bounding across the path of many a runner though, showing off it’s natural talent in speed and agility in a somewhat mocking manner.
- Gaze at Speedy Racers: Yeah, some of us will never run unless it’s from the couch to the fridge, and that’s what makes this world great – that we all can’t be equal. So instead of staying home, take time to come out and cheer your friends and family as they prove their mental and physical strength. At the end of it, probably have a drink or two with them – if not to celebrate, to help them forget the pain they’ve just gone through in the last few hours. Take a morning game drive and feel the best ‘african massage’ we have to offer as you’re tossed around bumpy roads, in a land cruiser.
- Tour the Area: While the marathon happens in one weekend, and in a few hours, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while at Lewa. There’s plenty to offer in the conservancy, from game drives, some R&R at some of the best lodges in the area, and thrilling nature walks in the Ngare Ndare conservancy. Runners can take time to recuperate, while the rest enjoy the great offers of wildlife and scenery that Kenya has to offer.
- Give Back: The reason the marathon was created was to spearhead fundraising efforts for conservation, education, and community development across Kenya, having raised over USD 5 million to date. 2017 marks the 17th edition of the marathon, and from what was a tiny elite event, this has grown to an all-encompassing race, welcoming runners from over 35 countries in the past. The key beneficiaries of the event are:
- Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
- Northern Rangelands Trust
- Ngare Ndare Forest Trust
- Mount Kenya Trust
- In 2015, the Milgis Trust, that normally receives Kenya-wide funding, received a significant portion of the funds raised – KSH 5.3 million.
However, the funds are often disbursed to others beyond this list.
- Bucket List: You get to do one more thing on your bucket list: run a race! Stay healthier, fitter, and if you’re just spectating, enjoy a fabulous event in the wild. Isn’t that reason enough?
While the race entries are already full, you can join in the spectator activities or take a drive through the conservancy, or visit the spectacular Ngare Ndare forest. Tip: Take the canopy walk, it’s amazing being high up in the trees! You might get lucky and have elephants crossing below you.
See you there!
Details of the Marathon:
Date: June 24th, 2016. You should probably get there a day or two before.
Location: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Laikipia. 0.2254° N, 37.4409° E
Getting to Lewa:
- Air: The simplest way of reaching Lewa is by flying direct from Nairobi (Wilson Airport) with SafariLink or Air Kenya. There are daily scheduled flights to the Conservancy. The Lewa airstrip also allows private or chartered planes to land & deliver guests.
- Road: You can also get to Lewa by road. Only four hours drive from Nairobi, head out through the Thika road. Pass through Thika, Makuyu and Karatina. Turn right before Nyeri Town (about 16km before the town there are signs to Buffalo Springs and Samburu). Pass through Naro Moru, Nanyuki, and Timau. Approximately 15km after Timau is the Meru/Isiolo junction. Turn left at this junction heading towards Isiolo. Approx 3km further on at the bottom of the hill on the left hand side is the main entrance to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
Accommodation: You can check out the various lodges and hotels around Lewa and/or Nanyuki or Meru towns. The two towns are about 1 hour’s drive to Lewa.
- Half Marathon 21KM
- Full Marathon 42KM
- Children’s 5KM Fun Run (10-13 years and 14-17 years)
Social Media Handles to tag:
- Safaricom Marathon – Twitter: @RunWild_Kenya Instagram: @safaricommarathon
- Safaricom – Twitter: @SafaricomLtd Instagram: @safaricomltd
- Tusk – Twitter: @tusk_org Instagram: @tusk_org
- Lewa – Twitter: @lewa_wildlife Instagram @lewa_wildlife
- Hashtags: #RunWild #SafaricomMarathon #LeaveYourMark #ReasonsToRunWild