James Magayi @magayijim
Kenya’s leading telecommunications company Safaricom will once again sponsor the 19th edition of Lewa Marathon to a tune of Sh14 million. The marathon, organised in a wildlife conservancy has grown from 200 participants at its inaugural edition to over 2,000 at last year’s edition and ranks high in the global list of Must-do’s.
The clamour for participation this year starts today when online registration opens at 9am on Safaricom’s website. The marathon attracts hundreds of foreign participants keen to help in wildlife conservation and the available running opportunities are usually snapped up within hours of opening of registration.
The Lewa initiative has raised USD6.75 million over the years with proceeds distributed to conservation efforts, community development projects like agroforestry and irrigation that helps communities living around the area. Over 35 years are represented every year and the marathon has attracted over 13,000 runners since inception.
Lewa chief executive officer Mike Watson said that thanks to the marathon proceeds, game rangers deployed in the expansive conservancy have grown the population of Rhinos from 200 years ago to over 1,000.
The rhino population in Lewa makes up 14 per cent of the entire rhino count in Kenya. “Our rangers have managed to secure the elephant and rhino population and I’m proud that we have not lost any rhino to poachers in the last five years.
It means our efforts are bearing fruit and the benefits to communities in and around the conservancy have equally benefitted,” said he. Safaricom’s Joe Ogutu expressed his pride at what the company has made possible with the Lewa marathon initiative.
“We are committed to changing lives and that is why each year we commit to be title sponsor to this marathon. It is a worthy course and we urge you all to run with us. We may not see the difference now but future generations will appreciate.”