A Race in the Wild – Lewa Marathon

A Race in the Wild – Lewa Marathon : In the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, which is situated in Kenya’s Samburu County, the renowned annual Lewa Marathon is held. Along with being a competitive race, it also serves as a means of raising money for the community improvement and wildlife conservation initiatives. The marathon draws competitors from all over the entire world and provides an incredible opportunity of running through the stunning Kenyan countryside while helping a worthwhile cause.

An annual charity run called the Lewa Safari Marathon takes place at Lewa Downs, 140 miles (230 km) north of Nairobi, Kenya. In order to raise money for various community development and wildlife conservation initiatives, Safaricom, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, and Tusk are sponsoring the 42.195-kilometer (26.219 mi) duration marathon. One of the top ten marathons to run in your life, according to Runner’s World Magazine, the Lewa Marathon is noted for its distinctive surroundings.

The Tusk Trust, a non-profit dedicated to community development, education, and conservation in Africa, established the Lewa Marathon and hosted its inaugural event in 2000. In the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, an exclusive wildlife sanctuary in northern Kenya.

The purpose of the event is to generate money and increase public awareness for local conservation efforts, particularly those aimed at supporting the preservation of endangered species like rhinos and elephants. The organisers hoped to engage local populations, visitors, and athletes in and around world in an effort of promoting animal conservation through athletics.

The Lewa Marathon has grown in popularity over the years and has drawn a variety of competitors, including elite runners, beginning runners, and nature lovers. Olympic silver medallist Catherine Ndereba from 2004 and former world marathon record holder Paul Tergat are two of the more notable competitors. This was Pippa Middleton’s first full marathon, which she completed in 2015.

The coronavirus epidemic forced the cancellation of the race’s 2020 edition but it has since resumed.  Numerous conservation programmes, anti-poaching operations, and community development programmes in the area have benefited greatly from the money raised by the marathon. The occasion not only provides a stage for athletic brilliance but also promotes a greater appreciation of the value of sustainability and conservation. It has developed into a prominent annual occasion that highlights Kenya’s dedication to safeguarding its abundant wildlife while enhancing the welfare of communities around it.

The route of the Lewa Marathon race

The environment in which the Lewa Marathon is held is one of its more prominent features. The event is held in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a game park where lions, elephants, rhinoceroses, and the common cape buffalo live, Grevy’s Zebras, Somali Ostrich Gerenuk, Beisa Oryx, and Reticulated Giraffe are just a few of the unique species found there. Samburu National Reserve is renowned for having a significant number of elephant and for being the greatest location to see leopards.  With over 450 different bird species, it is a great place to go bird watching.  alongside other large African animals. Lewa is an unforgettable experience in the athletic world because there are no borders at all separating the participants from the wildlife. Two 20.0975-kilometer (12.4880-mile) loops make up the race, which is run on a dirt road that often functions as a four-wheel drive path for safari vehicles. The track is situated on average 5,500 feet (1,700 m) above sea level. In areas that are less than 100 miles from the equator, the sun may consistently bring afternoon temperatures to up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Even the most experienced marathon runners find it challenging when the elevation and tropical sun are present.

 There are special security risks involved with holding a marathon race on an African wildlife preserve. Large African predators like lions, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs, and cheetahs can be found at the Lewa Conservancy. The Kenya Wildlife Service patrols the course with skilled, armed rangers to protect the safety of the runners. Two helicopters and one spotter plane monitor the skies for any possible dangers in support of the ground operations.

A Race in the Wild - Lewa Marathon
Lewa Marathon

The Lewa Marathon’s scenic route often travels through the breath taking scenery of Kenya’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The diverse animals and amazing natural beauty of this conservancy provide a special and unforgettable element to the marathon experience.

The course offers runners expansive views of the African savannah, lush vegetation, and famous species moving freely in their natural habitat. There may be acacia trees, wide plains, and stunning hills along the journey, making for a totally immersive and memorable encounter. The Lewa Marathon offers participants not only a chance to test their physical endurance but also a chance to interact with nature and learn about the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy’s conservation work. The route’s beautiful splendour increases the marathon’s attractiveness to both participants and spectators.

How is Lewa Marathon benefiting the community

Every year, the Lewa Marathon has a greater and greater effect on the local Kenyan population. The 2009 event brought in over $500,000 USD, which was handed to several charitable organisations in Kenya to assist community development, health, education, and wildlife conservation. A local school received more than $60,000 USD in 2007 to build and equip two new classrooms, a library, and a gate for the school compound. Over $30,000 was spent on purchasing beds, stretchers, and digital blood pressure devices for the nearby hospitals. The Nanyuki Cottage Hospital receives cash from the marathon every year with the express purpose of treating patients with animal injuries.

The Lewa Marathon’s primary goal is to assist wildlife conservation, even though it generously supports the local residents in Northern Kenya. The money earned from the marathon goes towards paying the salaries of the more than 140 armed rangers who guard the Lewa Conservancy’s animal residents. Over 80 black and white rhinoceros, which are both in risk of extinction, reside in Lewa. The park also has a sizable population of Grevy’s zebra, an endangered species.

Successful Rhino conservation efforts

 The protection and preservation of rhino populations worldwide is the primary goal of rhino conservation. Threats to rhinos include habitat degradation, horn poaching for human consumption, and human-wildlife conflict.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified both the black rhino and the white rhino, the two primary species of rhinos, as either endangered or critically endangered. A primary focus is putting measures in place to stop illegal poaching, which entails killing rhinos for their horns. To discourage poachers, this entails setting up anti-poaching patrols, utilising technology like drones and monitoring tools, and stepping up law enforcement.

It is crucial to provide and maintain secure habitats for rhinos. In order to do this, it is necessary to protect already existing natural areas and create reserves or conservancies where rhinos can flourish free from the threat of poaching or human encroachment. Some conservation groups move rhinos to more secure locations or restore them to former regions where they once lived.

Prince William of Wales engaged to Catherine Middleton at Lewa on October 19, 2010. In the same year, 66 white rhinos and 72 black rhinos, or 13% of Kenya’s rhino population, resided in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

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