What lights you up? A rich cup of tea? The first sip of a cold beer after a hard day’s work? For Mzee Ruonge it is perhaps an impending marathon. At least that’s what I judged from the aura of pride and excitement that was around the 85 year old who I met at the Safaricom marathon in Lewa Wildlife Sanctuary. He was taking part in the over 21km half marathon under the category ‘over 70.
John Rionge who won in his senior category started running in 1948 when he was in class 3. He started running marathons in 1956 and has never looked back. Not to downplay the other participants but this old man was quite easily the highlight of the marathon for me. I was at the finish line when he crossed and broke into a happy proud dance. He struck me as a happy old man who has lived a very fulfilling life. He also challenged me.
The Lewa Marathon is organized by Tusk Trust and Lewa, and supported by telecommunication company Safaricom with an aim to raise funds towards wildlife conservation as well as for supporting community projects around the conservancy. This year the marathon was themed ‘Run for a good cause’ and attracted hundreds of participants from 20 different countries. Ages of participants ranged from a young as 10 to as old as 70.
Lewa conservancy offers protection to endangered species especially the black rhino and grevy’s zebra. The efforts of the conservancy are clearly visible, with the population of the native black rhino growing impressively over the years.
What you did not know about Lewa
The Lewa marathon is widely known for its dedication to protect the 61,000 acre wildlife conservancy that is home to over 100 rhino, herds of elephants and a vast assortment of plains game including zebra, giraffe, buffalo and much more.
Safariom Lewa Marathon has also participated in making the lives of communities in Northern Kenya better and worth living. The proceeds from the Marathon through the support of Tusk have over the years benefited hundreds of thousands of Kenyans by establishing Hospitals, clinics and far-reaching community and conservation projects.
The funds raised in 2014 helped train over 1,000 women aged 19-80 years in micro-enterprise and financial management and support approximately 6,000 children in 21 schools. Since the first marathon held in 2000, $5M has been raised for an impressive aray of community and conservation initiatives right across Kenya.
The efforts to enhance the living of the community has been recognize beyond the Kenyan boarders through awards like the World Responsible Tourism Awards that awarded Lewa a silver medal for poverty reduction, an accolade bestowed upon a tourism organization with a creative and sustainable approach to reducing poverty among local communities.
In 2014, the marathon raised Ksh58 Million which was the highest funds realized since the initiative was founded. 2014 was also a good year for Lewa that saw the birth of 15 black rhino and loosing no rhino to poachers. Thus far, the race has raised approximately Ksh 380 million.
Lewa Marathon 2015
Safaricom Lewa Marathon this year had several categories; 5KM fun race for children, 21Km half marathon which includes team races and the 42 KM full marathon.
Elijah Mbogo and Lodepa Fridah were the winners of the 2015 Safaricom Full Marathon in Lewa. Mbogo finished the 42 km men category in a time of 2:20:18. Moses Wamaitha came in a close second at 2:23:21. Fridah Lodepa came in first in the women’s category at 2:50:26, and Monica Njeru came in second place at 2:52:58
Mbithi Wambua Robert set a new record in the 21 Km race with a time of 1:04:50 in the Marathon at the expansive conservancy. Lucy Karimi led the women half marathon with a time of 1: 16:23 with Wanjiku Munene followed closely at 1:17:03.
Here are the results in full.
42km men results:
- Mbogo Elijah 2:20:18
- Wamaitha Moses: 2:23:21
- Kiogora Cyprian: 2:24:54
- Daniel Mbogo: 2:25: 18
- Kigen Philip: 2:31:35
42KM Women Results:
- Fridah Lodepa: 2:50:26
- Monica Njeru: 2:52:58
- Rispa Lagat: 2:53:25
- Alice Nyawira: 3:00:25
- Karungari Wambugu: 3:15:18
- Mbithi Wambua Robert: 1:04:59
- MirisMunene: 1:05:41
- Nicholas Kamakya: 1:05:59
- James Muriithi: 1:06:20
- Yohana Loronyokwe: 1:06:37
- Karimi Lucy: 1:16:23
- Wanjiku Pauline: 1:17:03
- Lepakana Perendis: 1:17:53
- Muthoni Emma: 1:18:40
- Milliam Ebongon Naktar: 1:23:07