Running Wild: Philemon Baaru and Fridah Lodepa Make History at the 15th Safaricom Marathon
Charging through Lewa's undulating course, last year's full marathon winners, Philemon Baaru and Fridah Lodepa, cemented their champion status by retaining their titles. Baaru has now won the race three years in a row making him the man to beat in next year's event. 2009 Kuala Lumpur Marathon winner Fridah Lodepa also successfully defended her title, crossing the finish line after 2:51:31.
“I didn’t expect to defend the title since today’s competition was very stiff and the weather was very hot but when we reached 24 km, I decided to separate from the rest up to the finish.
I thank my husband who was a former athlete for coaching me up to this level and inspiring me. For now I have not planned my next race, I will just take a rest,” Lodepa told Kenya's Capital FM.
Over 1,000 runners participated in this year's event. This is the 15th edition of the annual marathon that is organised by Tusk Trust and Lewa, and sponsored by Safaricom. Though generally regarded as one of the toughest races on earth, it attracts professional athletes as well as amateurs and a broad spectrum of spectators. It is run through Lewa's rugged terrain, challenging the strength and stamina of the runners amid stunning scenery.
“It’s not easy to win three times in succession in Kenya because people nowadays train hard but I thank my family for the support they gave me that enabled me to work hard and prepare well," Philemon stated.
Nathan Mathenge won the men’s Half Marathon after clocking 1:05:14, only two seconds ahead of Robert Mbithi while Patrick Kithinji came in third.
In the women’s category, Eunice Mwendwa dominated the race with a time of 1:15:46, followed by Lucy Karimi and Peredis Lekapana.
Black Rock raised the most money among the corporate teams, a staggering $300,000!
The Lewa Team that run this year's marathon, left to right: Vet Mathew Mutinda, mechanic Reuben Toki, ranger Achian Ngila, board member Paula Kahumbu, accountant Job Mutethia & John Kinoti, the Community Development Manager.
The impact of the event has been huge and the benefits are very tangible. Since its inception the event has raised over $4.2 million. Tusk and Lewa have always shared a common goal to use wildlife conservation as a catalyst to alleviate poverty, reduce conflict, and improve education and livelihoods in rural areas rich in biodiversity.