Kenya (October 25, 2012) – 79 international runners last month joined 190 Maasai, the world’s most naturally talented endurance athletes, for Year 2 of Kenya’s first and only ultra-marathon. Stretching 75km across north-west Kenya’s open bush tracks, past grazing camels and zebras, and through Maasai villages standing at an altitude of 2,000m, The Amazing Maasai Ultra is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for runners of all standards looking for a unique African adventure.
In accurate reflection of the event’s name, amazing achievements were seen from its runners this year. Kairuki Daniel blazed into first place in the hilly, high-altitude 42km marathon with a stunning time of 2:25:31, while Victor Wachira Miano completed the 75km ultra marathon in the record time of 4:57:07. The winner of the 21km race was Maasai local Lotarakwai Kekurusi, who stormed in at 1:15:24, and 15-year old Samina Lekilit, who ran in a dress and barefoot, won the women’s half marathon in just 1:43:00. Amongst the international runners, 13-year-old American Winter Vinecki placed third in the women’s marathon, a fantastic achievement undertaken to help spread awareness of prostate cancer, which took her father’s life, and raise funds for its research.
For the international runners, the challenge was not to keep pace with their lighting fast Kenyan counterparts, but to complete this demanding, hilly course in the African wilderness during the 12-hours of daylight available before the cut-off time. Military-trained scouts from Kenya Wildlife Service tracked local wildlife throughout the race, ensuring the complete safety of runners. As they acclimatized to the altitude in the days before the race, international runners visited local schools and Maasai villages, danced with Maasai warriors and experienced a game drive and guided safari walks.
The charity run raised $36,000 USD for the Amazing Maasai Girls Project, founded by the race directors to support Maasai girls’ education. “The girls who receive our 4-year scholarships from the charity will be selected over the next three months, with criterea based on their primary school exam results, a written application and interview. They will then start high school in January 2013“, explained race directors, Molly Fitzpatrick and Sarah Edson.
Last year, $25,000 USD was raised from the race, which covered scholarships for 20 bright but disadvantaged girls from the area of the race. “In many of the Maasai villages here, girls are forced to get married at a very early age – sometimes as young as 13 or 14. We want to give more girls the chance to get a secondary education, empowering them to find employment and independence as adults”, said Edson.
The third annual Amazing Maasai Ultra is scheduled to take place in the last week of September 2013. Early bird travel packages from December 1, 2012 on www.amazingmaasaiultra.org.