OA Imogen Completes Safaricom Marathon in Record Time

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As we announced last month, former pupil Imogen Keeling (Meynell 2017) was set to compete in Kenya’s Safaricom Marathon; an internationally acclaimed event that allows participants from all over the globe to race through one of Africa’s most breathtaking wildlife conservancies.

Three weeks on, Imogen reflects on the once-in-a-lifetime experience, speaking to King’s College exclusively about her time on the track.

“Half marathons are long in general, but running in Africa for some reason feels a lot longer,” muses Imogen.

“The drive to the conservancy was one of many emotions. Watching the mesmerising African sunrise over the breathtaking savannah plains is an experience everyone should witness. For a few moments I felt very relaxed, but then you realise you are getting closer to something which is rather daunting.”

Prior to the race, Imogen was given key advice from friends and family who had previously competed in the marathon.

“I was told to stand close to the front at the start as it narrows quickly, and to not be surprised if I was overtaken by professional runners. I was very thankful for this advice as it really helped me when navigating the course.”

Following a ribbon cutting by Her Excellency the First Lady of Kenya, Imogen began the race, taking the advice of her loved ones and gaining a head start on her fellow runners.

Despite feeling naturally apprehensive about what lay ahead, a sea of friendly faces soon helped her to feel at ease, and after gaining some distance on the crowd, she soon found her footing.

“The first 16km went by without too much difficulty. I was still feeling good, enjoying the serenity of the scenery and looking over the African landscape. One thing that definitely worked to my advantage was knowing that by the time I had reached 17km, the hills were out of the way and it was downhill or flat from that point onwards.” said Imogen.

However, as time progressed, Imogen admits that running downhill was one of the hardest stretches of the course.

“Not only does running downhill strain your knees more due to the impact,” said Imogen, “but running on uneven, slippery marram dust roads is naturally more tiring than tarmac.”

Conquering the worst of the track, the finish line was soon in sight. Recording a fantastic time of 2 hours 5 minutes, Imogen revealed, “I was chuffed with myself. I had completed the Lewa Half Marathon. I finished and just behind me was someone I’d met whilst out here.”

“We collected our goodie bags, which included a towel, bottle of Lucozade and chocolate, before being presented with our medals.”

Summarising the experience, Imogen said: “My marathon journey was over, but it wasn’t easy. As I’ve said, the Lewa Marathon produces its own unique challenges and is often deemed to be harder than the full London marathon.”

Here at King’s College, we are incredibly proud of Imogen not only for completing the marathon but also for raising a significant sum of money for Tusk, an organisation which supports wildlife conservation programmes across Africa.

Imogen was placed 36th out of 423 female competitors, and 296th overall. Fundraising remains open until late August, so there is still time to help Imogen reach her final goal!

“I would like to thank everyone who has been so kind and generous with their donations. The work that Tusk does is simply amazing and makes life-long impacts on the environment and the people they work with.”

Details can be found here: https://bit.ly/2mRx3Is

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