FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Thom Gilligan
Malloy Marketing Group
SAFARICOM MARATHON WAS A ROARING SUCCESS
American Runners Make Their Mark in Kenya
LEWA DOWNS, KENYA (JULY 8, 2003)- Hitting the proverbial wall was least of
the Americans' worries at the Safaricom Marathon and Half Marathon held on
June 28, 2003. Forty adventurous Americans journeyed to Kenya via London
and Uganda during a much-publicized high terrorism threat to participate in
the only marathon and half marathon in the world held in a wildlife game
park. Over 400 runners from 23 countries participated in the fourth annual
event held at the 55,000-acre Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in the foothills of
Racing Kenyans in Kenya amidst loose carnivorous beasts was not the only
race-day challenge the Americans encountered. Jet lag, high altitude,
scorching heat and rocky hills all contributed to slower than usual race
times and kept PRs to a minimum for the U.S. entourage.
"The old joke around the campfire was that you didn't have to outrun lions
during the race, just the runner behind you," said Thom Gilligan, president
of Marathon Tours and Travel and the group leader. "Truth is, most of the
runners were actually hoping for an animal encounter."
Race security was taken very seriously throughout the day as a spotter
plane, 50 armed game park rangers, and a helicopter crew continuously
monitored the two-loop course to prevent any predator mishaps. Water
stations doubled as runner checkpoints to ensure that all runners were
accounted for and that nobody wandered off course.
Lions were not noticeably lurking about during this year's race but a
rambling female rhino with her calf caused a runner from Chicago to grind
to a screeching halt. At the 30K mark Bobbie Lopez, 38, came within 20
yards of the one-ton horned roadblock and offspring. When the rhinos began
to approach her, Lopez wisely ignored pre-race instructions to stand still
if a dangerous animal was nearby. Instead, she took the advice of a nearby
Kenyan runner who recommended that she walk slowly backwards. An observant
helicopter crew quickly chased the pachyderm pair off course. "My heart
skipped a beat," remarked Lopez, who also spotted a herd of zebras on the
course earlier in the race.
A spirited giraffe added to race-day drama by running alongside a Kenyan
woman for about 100 meters. The giraffe was just an arm's length from the
runner during its jaunt and then hoofed it to the nearby bush. The Lewa
Wildlife Conservancy is known worldwide for its conservation efforts with
the endangered black rhino and Grevy's Zebra. The game reserve is also
home to elephants, antelope, leopards and cheetahs.
As expected, both the marathon and half marathon competitions were
dominated by the locals. Simon Arusei pulled away from the pack in the
race's last five kilometers to finish the marathon in 2:25:40. Vying for
the equivalent of $10,000 in prize money, seven men finished under 2.28.00
and eighteen bettered 2:35:00.
In the women's marathon race, Callen Areba claimed her third victory at
Lewa, finishing in 3:07:26. Runner-up Ruth Calunda followed in a time of
Bill Richardson, 64, of Hubbard, Ohio was the last finisher in a time of
In the half marathon race, David Wachira claimed first place in 1:10:33,
just 9 seconds ahead of Julius Barabi. Former marathon world
record-holder Catherine Ndereba didn't beat around the bush and cruised to
a comfortable victory and new course record in 1:21:01. Runner-up Florence
Nkatha finished in 1:35:28.
Over $100,000 was raised at the event for Lewa's conservation projects and
community development programs, $26,000 of which was contributed by the
Americans. There were no serious medical problems during the race and the
presence of terrorism was non-existent and subsequently became a non-issue.
For more information regarding the Safaricom Marathon, call Marathon Tours
and Travel at (800) 444-4097 or log on to www.marathontours.com/kenya.
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