Nakumatt had set up a mobile shop for the hundreds of people who were checking in from all over the world for the marathon
A group of 20 media personnel had assembled at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC)’s Comesa Grounds to embark on a tour of the Maasai Mara Reserve.
The mission was simple; bonding and enjoying the moment while covering the annual Maasai Mara Marathon, which coincided with the wildebeest migration, dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World.
The three-day trip was organised by P&L Consulting in association with the The Main Event Company, who incidentally were also in-charge of entertainment . There was anticipation from the press pool who wanted to get out of town and unwind among the wildlife. At 11am, our tour van pulled out of KICC parking lot.
There was lots of banter and laughter as team caught up on each others’ stories as we drove along Mai Mahiu road towards Narok town. Travelling in such a big party, you never really keep track of time and you must remain awake lest you miss the talks and the action.
The beauty of the Rift Valley was evident through the natural landscape along Mai Mahiu and Suswa and journalists clicked away. At Narok town, we took a detour and the real safari began.
A 65km torturous drive awaited us on rough terrain, heat and dust, what with even mobile phone communications being a real challenge. Edging nearer to our destination, the van broke down, prompting everyone to get off and stretch their limbs.
In the midst of the wheat farms, as the driver tried to fix the mechanical mishap, the selfie craze checked in and people took photos of just about anything. From the expansive plains, to old-bedecked Maasai women, anything was game. Once the vehicle was fixed, we continued with our safari, happy to breath fresh air in the wild away from Nairobi madness.
We came across herds of magnificent Thompson gazelles, wildebeests, warthogs, zebras, and giraffes as dusk set in. The evening was becoming cold, but the car windows had to remain open to release the loads of dust in the van.
Finally, after a dreary nine-hour trip, we got into our camp at Lemek Conservancy in the heart of the Mara, which was a beehive of activity as different crews prepared for the early morning Saturday race.
Nakumatt Supermarkets had set up a mobile shop for convenience to the hundreds of people who were checking in from all over the world. We promptly claimed our tents and freshened up quickly as the night was promising to be full of action.
A music dome was being fixed and the food corner was busy with extra staff ready to stop the churning of our stomachs. Armed KWS rangers patrolled the perimeters of the camp as another crew rushed on the finishing touches of a protective fence.
It was only few hours away before the runners took off on a gruelling 21km run at the conservancy and the air was pregnant with expectation. After some quick meals and refreshments, guys got bonding again, surrounded by a bonfire to keep the cold away.
Fatigued, most of us retired early as the race day was going to be energy sapping and intense, especially for the media. The sun was up early as we dragged ourselves out of our sleeping bags. Everybody was up and running as the event was about to kick off.
A chopper had already taken off to drive away the wild animals from the planned marathon route. Top political leadership led by Narok Senator, Steven Ole Ntutu, Kilgoris MP Gideon Konchellah and Director of Event who also doubles as Principal Secretary of East Africa Affairs and Tourism, John Konchellah, were in attendance.
The marathon itself was high on energy, never mind the hot sun as the young and old took time to exercise their limbs in the vast Mara terrain. The spectacle of the runners running side by side with wildebeests was a sight to behold.
It turned out to be a weekend worth remembrance as the party went down later on for the masses in the evening meet. Lots of drinks and roast meat was at hand as patrons enjoyed the final minutes of the Mara sojourn long into the night. Hours later, we were enroute Nairobi, but not before a lovely lunch at the Mara Safari Lodge.