The 2020 edition of the Lewa Safari Marathon has been cancelled as Kenya and the rest of the world grapples with the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s edition, powered by Huawei and Safaricom was slated for 27th June 2020 allowing participants from all over the globe to compete whilst running through one of Africa’s most breath-taking conservancies.
For the past twenty years, the marathon, held on Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, co-organised by Tusk and title sponsored by Safaricom has become a permanent fixture in Kenya’s sporting calendar.
The event attracts about 1,400 local and international runners actively participating in what has been termed one of the most challenging and exciting races globally.
Runners of all abilities have taken part – from elite professionals like Marathon World Record Holder Eliud Kipchoge to amateur runners and walkers.
Over and above its identity as a sporting event, the marathon has also been a vehicle for the advancement of education, healthcare and conservation efforts in Kenya.
The event raises close to KES 800,000,000 for these causes since the year 2000.
“Hosting a race in a wildlife conservancy comes with a unique set of challenges. For the past 20 years, we have worked to mitigate these challenges and offer all 1400 of our annual runners what we hope is an optimum running experience. Having all of you at Lewa has always been the highlight of our year. Despite our great willingness to push on, having weighed all factors, we have come to the very difficult decision to cancel this year’s race,” said Mike Watson, chief executive officer, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
On March 25, the Kenyan Government announced 28 cases of COVID19 within the country and banned all international flights effective 25 March.
The event draws a significant number of marathoners, whose contributions are key to the success of the event from overseas the UK and the USA.
In light of the new travel restrictions and severity of situation, Watson said the marathoners will be unable to participate.
The Government has also issued a public declaration advising Kenyans to avoid all non- essential public gatherings.
“While we’re sure all efforts are being made by the Kenyan government to contain the spread of the virus, it is paramount we heed the presidential directive to avoid all non-essential public gatherings and play our part in flattening the curve until all of this is behind us,” Mr. Watson added.
“The importance of the Lewa Safari Marathon to Tusk’s operations in Kenya cannot be overstated. It is our flagship fundraising initiative and undoubtedly a highlight of the Tusk calendar for the hundreds of international runners we host every year at the event,” said Charlie Mayhew, Tusk CEO.
Mayhew noted that the event regularly generates over $500,000 (KES 50,000,000) for numerous conservation, education and community projects across Kenya, so its cancellation this year is a massive blow.
“The safety of runners, supporters and local communities amid this global crisis is paramount. We will return next year, stronger than ever, and meanwhile we are committed to continue supporting our partner projects as best we can.”
“The marathon is not just a running experience, it is a force for good. It not only helps us protect Kenya’s wildlife, but it brings communities together and transforms lives. The extraordinary sums generated go directly toward our conservation efforts on the ground. It is an event like no other,” he noted.
Additionally, holding such a highly competitive event to its usual standards may impose a financial strain on the event’s co-sponsors who in this tough business climate will struggle to support the event as they have done before.
The event organisers will offer the participants the chance to defer their entries, as well as claim full or partial refunds. The cancellation policy can be accessed in full here: https://www.lewasafarimarathon.co.ke/cancellation-policy/. Participants can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +254 717 117 223 in case of any further questions.