2020 Lewa Safari Marathon cancelled over COVID-19 pandemic

Participants at a previous Marathon. 2020 Lewa Safari Marathon has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic./COURTESY

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 PLC was slated for 27th June 2020 at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy located in northern Kenya.

“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,” said the CEO of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Mike Watson.

“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,” he added.

Th cancellation follows a directive by the government to cancel all international flights effective 25th March, 2020.

“A significant number of the marathoners, whose contributions are key to the success of the event, are overseas runners from the UK and the USA. In light of the new travel restrictions and severity of situation, they will be unable to participate,” read a statement from the organizers of the marathon.

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,” Watson added.

One of the organisers of the marathon, Tusk, said that the cancellation of the event which generates over sh.50,000,000 for numerous conservation, education and community projects across the country was a massive blow, but the safety of runners, supporters and local communities amid this global crisis was paramount.

“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,”
said Tusk CEO Charlie Mayhew.

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 via Lewa Safari Marathon website or call the organisation for further questions.

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, raising close to sh.800,000,000 for these causes since the year 2000.