The organisers of this year’s Safaricom Lewa Marathon slated for June 25 at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Isiolo, intend to raise Sh100m for conservation and community service.
Safaricom's Director for Strategy and Innovation, Joe Ogutu on Wednesday disclosed that they target a restricted entry of 1,200 participants this year compared to 1,400 last year which raised a total of Sh60m.
Already, Ogutu said Safaricom has ploughed Sh30m into this year’s event.
The entry fee for the half marathon (21km) is Sh150,000 for a team of between four and 10 athletes.
“Initially, people used to come to race for fun but we have restricted the number to enable us manage the event well,” said Ogutu.
Ogutu was speaking during the launch of this year’s race at the Michael Joseph Centre, Safaricom House, Nairobi.
He was accompanied by the head of Lewa's anti-poaching unit Edward Ndiritu and the conservancy's chief executive officer Mike Watson.
IMPACT ON COMMUNITIES
“For close to two decades now, the marathon has had great impact on the lives of communities that live within and around Lewa conservancy,” Ogutu said.
“What began as an idea to save endangered species has transformed thousands of lives.”
Ogutu said that communities leaving around Lewa Conservancy have been able to benefit from health, water and community projects using funds raised from the marathon.
Last year, close to Sh40m went to social and conservation service while Sh20m went to the conservancy's operational costs.
The marathon has so far raised over Sh445m since its inception 17 years ago.
The funds have been used to support various initiatives in wildlife conservation, education, water and sanitation, agriculture and health within and around the conservancy.
Watson underscored the role their partners have played, and acknowledge the participants who have endured the tough terrain each year to ensure they are able to conserve wildlife while making life better for communities.
“Last year our theme was “run for a good cause” and our focus was on raising funds for wildlife protection and supporting community projects around the conservancy,” said Watson.
Nderitu, who won the inaugural international Tusk Trust Wildlife Ranger Award last year, said the anti-poaching war was not receiving the much needed political will and support.
“The war will be won if the political class will fully support it,” said Ndiritu adding that many people have been drawn to poaching owing to the millions of shillings involved.
“But I am glad we have lost no rhino in Lewa for the last one year.”
As has been the tradition, the Marathon will have three categories: the 5km children’s fun race, the 21km half marathon – which will include team races – and the full marathon (42km).
Elijah Mbogo won his first Safaricom Lewa Marathon last year as Fridah Lodepa claimed a hat-trick of victories at the event.
After falling short in the last three editions, Mbogo, mastered his game well to triumph in 2 hours, 20:18 minutes.
Lodepa braved the treacherous course, clocking 2:50:26 to emerge the winner.