Joel Melly and Pauline Waruguru won the men and women’s 16 kilometre races at the inaugural G4S Karura Cross Country Challenge in Karura Forest on Saturday.
Melly beat a strong field that included elite Kenyan athletes, clocking 48 minutes flat to beat Titus Kimani (48.1 seconds) to second place.
“The course was smooth and I ran my race to emerge the champion. I’m very happy,” said Melly.
Before clinching the title, Melly had exchanged the lead with several athletes, including Titus Kimani, Moses Mbugua and Victor Kipchirchir before taking control of the race with four kilometers left.
Waruguru clocked 59:49:02 to win the women’s 16km race, beating Emil Samoei to second position in 59:54:05.
In the men’s 9km race, Wilson Mwangi romped home in 29 minutes and 59 seconds to win, with Jeremiah Maina (30:36:01) coming second. Japan- based Lucy Kabuu, the 2006 Commonwealth 10,000m winner, clocked 32:55 to win the women’s 9km event, with Lucy karimi coming in second in 33:13:05.
In the corporate Challenge, the title sponsors G4S scooped the top position, with Fairview taking the runners-up position followed by Tribe Hotel.
Hundreds of Nairobi residents turned up to cheer the runners through the winding paths of Karura Forest. Winners of the 16km race received a cash award of Sh50,000 each, while the 9km winners bagged Sh25,000 each.
More than 15 corporate teams participated in the conservation run, including Kenya Shell and the British High Commission which entered a team, and contributed Sh250,000 each towards the Karura Forest conservation efforts.
AON Minet also contributed Sh100,000 and entered a team of 10 participants. Others were Viva Total beverages, Access Kenya, Tribe Hotel, Fairview Hotel, Lucozade, Sankara Hotel, East Africa Breweries Limited Foundation, Magnate Ventures and Mathare Youth Sports Association.
Apart from organising the race in partnership with Friends of Karura Forest (FKF) to raise awareness and funds for conservation efforts, G4S Kenya has also offered to provide professional risk management services worth Sh3.4 million.
This includes providing an events coordinator, who will help FKF in handling all matters related to events and security in the forest which entails deployment of guards at the four entry points to the forest, emergency response services, cash collection and banking, and an alarm response service at the Kenya Forest Environmental Education Trust Centre located in Karura Forest.
Previously, the forest made headlines for the wrong reasons, owing to instances of crime and land-grabbing.
However, Friends of Karura Forest Association in partnership with the Kenya Forest have initiated a number of conservation efforts to secure the natural resource.
The organisers are targeting to raise Sh20 million to be used to improve various infrastructure.
Adam Miller, G4S East Africa Regional Managing Director who ran in the challenge said: “As a leading safety and security solutions provider and an organisation that specialises in managing risk, G4S recognises the threat climate change poses to people and infrastructure.”
“For this reason, G4S has partnered with Friends of Karura Forest to impact positively on climate change, a key risk to the future of the planet and the environment in which G4S operates, but also help create a unique urban forest reserve of value to the community.” he added.