Lewa Marathon cancelled due to Finance Bill protests

The popular annual event, set for Saturday, June 29 will now skip a year

In Summary

• The Lewa Marathon supports wildlife conservation and community development

• Organisers said they understand the disappointment the postponement may cause

Participants at the 20th edition of Lewa Marathon
Participants at the 20th edition of Lewa Marathon
Image: Enos Teche

The anti-Finance Bill protests rocking the country have led to the cancellation of this year’s Lewa Safari Marathon.

Lead sponsors The Lewa Conservancy and Tusk Trust decided to postpone the event, which was scheduled for Saturday.

“This decision has been made in light of the current situation in the country,” the organisers said in a statement.

“We respect the democratic processes taking place and wish to be sensitive to the matter at hand, thus we have decided to postpone the event to next year.”

The Lewa Safari Marathon is a much-anticipated annual event that brings together athletes and conservation enthusiasts from around the world.

They unite to support wildlife conservation and community development initiatives across Kenya.

The organisers said they understand the disappointment the news may cause to participants, partners and supporters who have been looking forward to the unique event.

“We are committed to ensuring that the Lewa Safari Marathon returns stronger and better next year,” they said.

“The new dates for the marathon will be announced in due course, and all registrations will be carried forward to the rescheduled event.”

The organisers gave their heartfelt gratitude to all partners, sponsors and participants for their understanding and continued support.

“We remain dedicated to our mission of conserving wildlife and supporting local communities, and we look forward to hosting you at the Safari Lewa Marathon in 2025,” they said.

Kenyans have been demonstrating against the Finance Bill, with dozens killed and hundreds injured in clashes with police.

This even after President William Ruto conceded and said he will not assent to it.

Since its inception in 2000, the Lewa Marathon, whose proceeds go to the protection of endangered wildlife, has helped raise more than Sh 1.3 billion.

The proceeds from Lewa Safari Marathon have over time helped to protect one in seven of Kenya’s rhinos, one in four of its Grevy’s zebras all of its mountain bongos, and its last few remaining ‘super-tusker’ elephants.

The iconic species are well protected and thriving today in part thanks to the thousands of runners who have participated in the Lewa Safari Marathon over the past quarter-century.

The funds raised during the marathon have been instrumental in protecting endangered species and their habitats, while also uplifting the lives of people in underprivileged communities.

Donations to 10 grassroots Kenyan conservation groups helped protect 14 per cent of the nation's 2,000 rhinos, including facilitating 200 black and white rhino births on the Lewa-Borana landscape.

It has protected 25 per cent of the endangered Grevy’s zebra population in Kenya, the last 140 endangered mountain bongos in the country and the endangered hawksbill turtle.

Donations built new classrooms, supported teachers’ incomes, bought textbooks and funded meals at 27 schools, helping give 10,000 children a better start in life.

Other grants went to six hospitals and clinics, providing essential medical services in remote areas. Funding also supported the operations of 45 community conservancies.

Two of the 10 organisations the Lewa Safari Marathon has funded over the past 25 years are the Grevy’s Zebra Trust and the Bongo Surveillance Project.

More than 25,000 amateur and professional runners from 40 countries have taken part in the annual races over the last 25 years.

The international magazine Runner's World recognises the Lewa Marathon as one of the top 10 amateur races globally.

The event includes a 42km full marathon, a 21km half marathon and shorter races for younger runners.

It takes place in a wildlife reserve 200km north of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, where participants run through the unfenced habitat of animals including elephants, rhinos, giraffe and buffalo.

Corporate sponsors have played a vital role in the marathon’s success.

Safaricom, the main sponsor since the event’s inception, has been a driving force behind its growth and impact.

Huawei, supporting the race for over a decade, and other occasional sponsors, have provided the financial backbone necessary to sustain and expand these conservation and community initiatives.

Safaricom spokesperson said they have committed over Sh 350 million to this cause, with Sh25 million dedicated to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy this year alone.

Other sponsors include Access Bank, ICEA Lion, Highlands, EABL, Amref, Safarilink, Seacom, Madison Insurance and Nation Media Group.

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