Vivo Energy Kenya, the company that distributes and markets Shell-branded fuels and lubricants in the country, has given the 2019 Kakamega Forest Marathon a boost of five hundred thousand shillings (Kshs 500,000) to support the marathon set for 30th November 2019.
This year being the sixth edition of the marathon, will see over 1200 runners compete in 42km, 21km and 15km races. The marathon will follow a breath-taking route through the heart of Kakamega Forest. Runners will range from professional athletes to passionate running enthusiasts. Kakamega Forest marathon is a breeding ground for athletes who end up becoming world champions.
Last year, Vivo Energy Kenya supported the marathon with a similar amount of money. The marathon had 1,050 participants. Brigid Kosgey who won the 2018 and 2019 Chicago Marathons and the 2019 London Marathon is also the record holder of 2018 Kakamega Forest 21km women race. Proceeds from the marathon were able to secure 18, 000 indigenous tree seedlings, that were planted this year during the long rains of March to April.
The marathon is a brainchild of the Kakamega Forest Heritage Foundation established with the sole purpose of advocating for the preservation and conservation of Kakamega Forest, the only remaining rain forest in Kenya and the furthest East remnant of the Guinea Congolian rain forest that is scattered across Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Kenya. The Forest provides a unique sanctuary for a remarkable diversity of endemic plants, birds and insects. The forest is an important watershed for rivers that flow into Lake Victoria.
Kakamega forest is also invaluable to the people living around it, many of whom depend on it for timber, fuelwood, herbal medicines, building materials and food. The forest is also important to the local community for a number of ceremonies and religious practices. This valuable and unique forest is highly threatened due to encroachment for new land for agriculture and settlement and over-harvesting of forest resources.
Speaking during the cheque handover ceremony at Vivo Energy Kenya offices, Mr. Hannington Kimathi of Kakamega Forest Heritage Foundation said, “The Kakamega Forest Marathon is part of a wider project to sensitize the world on the need to protect the indigenous forest. The Marathon is sanctioned by Athletics Kenya and is internationally recognized.” He added that the marathon is the flagship event of the Kakamega Forest Marathon Week, which begins on Monday 25th November 2019. The marathon week features a number of activities amongst them; Shell Advance Boda Boda’s treasure hunt, tree planting, Kakamega style bullfighting, and the bicycle marathon.
Angela Munyua, Vivo Energy Kenya Communications Manager said, “Our support towards the conservation of Kakamega Forest affirms our vision of becoming the most respected energy business in Africa.” She added, “We are excited to be part of the Kakamega Forest Marathon week that will not only conserve the only remaining rain forest in the country but also nurture the talents in athletics and bicycle cyclists amongst others.