“Run, so that the river can do the same”
Nicholas Kipkemboi was crowned as the winner of this year’s KQ Masai Mara Marathon that was held in the Mara North Conservancy on Saturday, 19th November 2011. He beat a field of over 2,500 runners with an impressive time of 1 hour, 1 minute and 28 seconds.
The little known marathoner has not participated in any national or international races but he described the race as being tough. He sees the race as a launching pad for bigger races, “The competition was tough but I managed to give it my best. I look forward to taking part in bigger races in future,” said Kipkemboi.
In the women’s category, mother of one, Jemima Kiplagat took home the prize after posting a phenomenal time of 1 hour, 6 minutes and 7 seconds. She has previously won the Las Vegas Marathon in 2001 and came in second at the Frankfurt Marathon in 2009 and the Baringo Half Marathon this year.
She intends to try out for the Kenya National team that will participate in the Africa Cross Country championships next year.
The 21-kilometer race is held in the Mara North Conservancy. It draws participants from the surrounding communities as well as international runners eager to test their mettle against the tough terrain teeming with wildlife.
The marathon’s popularity has grown since inception in 2009. Beginning with 352 participants, the number has grown to 2,500 this year. Going under the theme, “Run, so that the river can do the same”, the marathon attracted participants from as far as Sweden, Italy and the US.
The KQ Half Marathon’s attraction stems in part from the fact that runners cruise in the midst of wildlife such as wildebeest, gazelles and zebras unlike most marathons which are held in urban areas.
The marathon is held annually to raise money for conservation within the Mara ecosystem as well as raise awareness of the plight of its stakeholders. Communities living in the Mara are in need of clean water, sanitation, healthcare and education.
Kenya Airways CEO, Dr Titus Naikuni, said that Ksh1 million will be channeled toward the construction of a dormitory in Aitong Primary Boarding School at Aitong in the Mara North Conservancy.
“We are committed to improving the welfare of the communities living within the Mara ecosystem. We will therefore continue to invest in the marathon in the coming years,” said Naikuni.