Sunday, November 3, 2013

Maasai Runs in 2013 New York Marathon


Jacob, a young Maasai from a small village in Rombo, near Kuku Group Ranch, was a participant in the first annual Maasai Olympics in August of 2012. Jacob competed in the 5 000 mt. and obtained the best possible time out of all of the Maasai Olympic competitors in this particular event. It was promised that the Maasai warrior with the best elapsed time for the race would be sponsored to run in the New York Marathon in November of 2013.

In 2009, the New York Marathon was a monumental occasion for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, and three other Maasai warriors. Edward Norton, President of the US Board for MWCT, hosted three local Maasai, along with Luca Belpietro, in New York. The purpose of this adventure was to raise funds for the Trust through Edward Norton’s established website CrowdRise. The fundraising efforts were extraordinarily successful, raising over $1 million for MWCT. You can read more about the marathon of 2009 right [here].

Due to it’s success in 2009, MWCT wanted to keep it’s presence in the marathon by continuing to send local Maasai to have the chance to run in the marathon that contributed to so much success for this community. Although Jacob was chosen to run in the marathon many months ago, it was by no means an easy journey to get him to New York for November 3.

Jacob is from a very small village and grew up in the Maasai community his whole life. When it was learned that Jacob would be travelling out of Kenya for the first time to go to the United States, it was a very big deal. But a lot had to be done in preparation for it. Jacob did not have a birth certificate, which made it nearly impossible to obtain a passport. Many hours of work were put in by MWCT, and many others, to go through the process of getting Jacob a passport.

This took many months, and once he finally obtained his passport, it was nearly the end of September. Unfortunately, the difficulties didn’t stop there. Next to be accomplished was obtaining a US Visa. Simply put, Mark Bellamy, an extremely down-to-earth former US Ambassador to Kenya, and a long friend of MWCT, was able to step in and help by speeding up the Visa process, further allowing Jacob to attain his Visa (although at the very last minute on October 30) to be able to participate in this outstanding experience.

By keeping many of the other details out, it was a long process that involved contact with many connections, in Kenya and in the United States. However, it is evident in a situation like this, that true kindness and generosity can be seen through the works of many people to create an everlasting memory for one man. .

MWCT and those at Campi ya Kanzi cannot give enough thanks to all of those that were able to do what they could to help out with this process. Jacob departed on October 31 from Nairobi, on his long flight to New York.

We would like to wish Jacob, and those running alongside him, the best of luck in this year’s New York Marathon. Stay tuned for an update after the marathon for photos and much more! 


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