Run of your life

Marathon2Stride out at this month’s KQ Masai Mara Marathon and find out how to prepare for the race of your life

The world’s greatest marathons slip off the tongue – Berlin, Boston, London, New York… But running in Kenya, in the Kenya Airways Masai Mara Marathon, is an experience that takes some beating. Kenya, after all, is the spiritual home of marathon running – the magical land that produces the greatest runners the sport has ever seen and dominates long-distance races at the Olympics and World Championships. Currently, Kenya’s Patrick Makau holds the record for the fastest-ever modern marathon – a time of 2 hours, 3 minutes and 38 seconds set in Berlin in 2001. Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang is just four seconds adrift, while Geoffrey Mutai would be above them both if only his time of 2 hours 3 minutes and 2 seconds counted for world record purposes (it came on a Boston course that exceeded the maximum incline (over 1m/km) to be included). They say it’s the rarified air in Kenya, the training at altitude, and the natural physical attributes of its athletes that makes the country such a giant of long-distance running. The only way to find out the secret, though, is to actually run there. The KQ Masai Mara Marathon should be at the top of any athlete’s wish list. If you’ve missed the action this year – it all kicks off on 5 October – then get planning for 2014! The race is actually a half-marathon, making it even more accessible to amateur runners. There’s even a 5km option if
you simply want to get a taster of long-distance running. Organised by Masai
Mara Marathon Ltd, the Rotary Club of Nairobi and Kenya Airways, the event is famous for attracting Kenyan Olympian runners prepared to mentor young and upcoming athletes. It has grown from humble beginnings in 2009, when 352 participants were at the starting line, to a hugely popular event attracting double this number. What makes it particularly special is its setting. Regarded as one of the great natural wonders of the world, the Masai Mara is renowned for the great migration. Runners will be jogging alongside zebra, gazelles and wildebeest as they head for the finish line – in contrast to most other marathons, which are traditionally held in major city centres. The Masai Mara Marathon also stands out because it raises money for conservation within the Mara ecosystem and raises awareness of the plight of its stakeholders. Communities living in the Mara are in need of clean water, sanitation, healthcare and education. And that’s why the race began with the tag line ‘run so the river can run too’. For anyone who loves running – or watching the runners – it really is one to experience.