Kenya 12 October: Karura Forest, Nairobi

Peace Tree Planting and 10k race - Karura Forest

One of our objectives when we came to East Africa was to plant some "Peace Trees" as we have done so often on the Peace Run in other parts of the world - notably Canada, Ireland, the UK and Germany. We are very grateful to Kenya Forest Service and the Friends of Karura Forest (FKF) for giving us the opportunity to plant a "Oneness Peace Tree" here in Nairobi. The day of the planting coincided with a 10k trail race celebrating the FKF's 10th anniversary so we also had a chance to run and share the Peace Torch with lots of people!

Picking up our race numbers - some of us opted for 2k, some for 5k, some for 10k.

We were met by Benedetta Wasonga, Corporate Communications Officer, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, State Department of Kenya Forest Service.

Happy 10th anniversary to the Friends of Karura Forest! And congratulations to what you have achieved together with the KFS.

Forest rules - don't feed the monkeys!

Karura Forest covers over 1000 hectares and is the number one destination for hikers and runners in Nairobi. It is the green lung of the city and a significant symbol of the Greenbelt Movement founded by Peace Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai.

The location of our tree planting - together with Kenya Forest Service we planted 10 indigenous seedlings including a Silver Oak dedicated as a "Oneness Peace Tree" as a lasting legacy of the Southern Hemisphere Peace Run 2019.

Into the woods we go...

The team headed to the current tree planting area. The Kenya Forest Service choose which species should be planted, with the aim to specifically reintroduce original indigenous trees.

Rangers and security from the Kenya Forest Service. The Forest Reserve is now fenced off and guarded by very nice and highly motivated rangers, to protect the forest itself along with its walkers, runners and bikers.

The seedlings ready for planting. We had intended to sponsor 7 seedlings - one for each of our Peace Runners in Kenya plus a Peace Tree - but in honour of the 10th anniversary KFS added more seedlings to make it ten. What a nice gesture! The seedlings will be taken care of and watered during the dry season for 3 years, then they will survive on their own. We will try to inspire our friends and teammates to sponsor even more seedlings - and we will be happy to come back to see how they have grown!

Phaedra from USA with Vashit Kivondo, Forester at Kenya Forest Service, who joined us for the tree planting and was extremely supportive and instrumental in our relatively short term Peace Tree project here.

Pierre from Cameroon planting his Peace Tree with the help of a forester.

Martina from Czech Republic planting her "happiness tree".

This beautiful tree was planted by Joyce from Ghana.

One of the foresters had kindly dug out all the planting holes - so our work was easy. But we did get our hands dirty !

Teamwork is peace!

Benedetta Wasonga with the Peace Torch.

Although it's the rainy season and the overnight rain had been extremely heavy, the newly planted seedlings needed "watering in".

A "friendship-bliss-tree"

We had a lot of help from the Kenya Forest Service!

The Oneness Peace Tree planted by Vasanti is a Silver Oak, one of the species native to Kenya.

The Oneness Peace Tree was accompanied by this beautiiful plaque commissioned on our behalf by the Kenya Forest Service - it includes a Peace Poem by the founder of the Peace Run, Sri Chinmoy. The plaque maker sponsored the colour version - thank you so much!

Tree number 10.

Our team today included our good friend "Major" from the Green Rangers - Major has been our driver in Nairobi and has also looked after us brilliantly - thanks Major!

Certificates of appreciation from the Peace Run to the Friends of Karura Forest and the Kenya Forest Service.

Our core Peace Run team at the planting was made up of only 5 runners representing Ghana, Germany, Czech Republic, USA and Cameroon. With Major representing Kenya we were still pretty international!

While the trees were being planted, Garga from the UK was representing the Peace Run in the Friends of Karura Forest Anniversary 10k.

This was Garga's first experience carrying a flag for an entire 10k race. He was very optimistic and started on the front row...needless to say he didn't stay up front in the race!

The course was a beautiful circuit through forest trails - it's easy to see why Karura is so popular with runners and hikers.

Approaching the Finish Line.

Overnight rain had been very heavy and the 20k race had to be cancelled because of the condition of the trail, but everyone had a chance to switch to the 10k.

The rain was actually much appreciated as it ended a very dry period.

There was a big age range in the 2km race!

Those too young to run could always find another way to complete the course....

Garga at the finish with medal and race tee shirt.

The Peace Run team at the finish line with Vashit.

Sharing the Peace Torch with runners at the finish line.

Major enjoyed the run!

The Friends of Karura photo zone - Vashit in the frame.

Pierre, you are missing in the photo!

With Lucy, founding member of the Friends of Karura Forest, celebrating 10 years of achievement.

Remember - don't feed the monkeys!

A quote from the great Jain teacher Mahavira (Lord Mahavir) who preached about the sanctity of life and compassion to all beings.

Today was a running day but Karura is popular with mountain bikers too.

Free coffee for the runners - from local growers Spring Valley.

George from local specialist running store Run Beyond - George was the race director and dealt brilliantly with last minute changes to the start time and race distance - fantastic job George and thanks for having us!

Today was the also the day of Eliud Kipchoge's historic attempt at breaking the 2 hour barrier for the Marathon. All of Kenya was behind him, but would he make it?

Tension grew as the minutes ticked by...

YES!!!!! A truly awesome achievement for humanity, and such a privilege to be with hundreds of Kenyan runners to watch history being made. 1:59:40 - amazing!

The Friends of Karura Forest holding the Peace Torch after the race.

The Peace Torch became the focus for the 1:59 celebrations!

Lots of runners were getting their faces painted with the Kenyan flag and "1.59".

Victory to Eliud Kipchoge and a great day for the Peace Run!

Most of our team were not aware that Eliud Kipchoge had held the Peace Torch back in 2005 - here is the proof!