Kenyan Marathon Stars Are Walking For Peace In Great Rift Valley

July 16, 2015

Some of Kenya’s most famous marathon runners tied on their shoes Wednesday — this time, to walk.

The group, including former world record holders Wilson Kipsang and Tegla Loroupe, began a “walk for peace” on July 15 to raise awareness of armed ethnic violence in Northern Kenya, according to The Guardian. The walk was organized by John Kelai, an international marathon champion. Ethiopian marathoner Haile Gebrselassie is expected to join the final portion of the walk.

They will travel from Lodwar to Lake Bogoria, covering 520 miles over 22 days — July 15 through August 6 — and will carry an Olympic-style torch which they’ll pass from walker to walker, writes The Guardian.

Many of the runners, have been touched by ethnic violence in Kenya. Kelai spoke about his experience in a YouTube video explaining the event:

“Running has brought me a lot of championships, fame, accolades, but what it has not brought me is peace,” he said. “When I was 13 years of age I lost my three uncles, they were killed by cattle rustlers.”

Stealing cows from other farmers can lead to revenge attacks. The Guardian reported that in May, some 75 people were killed in four days due to attacks like this. It noted: “Last year at least 310 people were killed and more than 220,000 fled their homes as a result of inter-communal conflicts attributed to competition over land and water resources, cattle rustling, and struggles over political representation, according to the United Nations.”

According to the event’s Indiegogo crowdfunding page, the group will use the funds they raise to try to reduce violence in the Great Rift Valley. They want to raise $250,000.

The event was created with coordination by the Aegis Trust, a British non-governmental organization which, among other things, has developed a similar peace-building program in Rwanda. Creators of the Kenyan program expect to engage with 10,000 young people at risk of being caught up in inter-ethnic violence, according to the project’s fundraising page.

The group is using the hashtag #kenyawalk4peace on Twitter, and posting photos like this one from their journey:

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