The Making of The Kipchoge Led 1:59 Tree Planting ‘Marathon’


The Making of The Kipchoge Led 1:59 Tree Planting ‘Marathon’
World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge planting a tree at Kaptagat Forest

In Summary

  • 159 tree seedlings holes were pitted, early morning on Saturday at the 50.8 acres Kaptagat Forest bloc, in Elgeyo Marakwet County, adopted for restoration by INEOS 1:59 Challenge winner and Olympic Champion Dr. Eliud Kipchoge.
  • In the well-coordinated activity led by Anthony Musyoka - Head of Conservancy, North Rift Region, Kenya Forest Service (KFS), indigenous tree seedlings purchased from the community were delivered to the challenge venue, thereafter, the seedlings sleeves were cut open and placed next to the pitted holes.

159 tree seedlings holes were pitted, early morning on Saturday at the 50.8 acres Kaptagat Forest bloc, in Elgeyo Marakwet County, adopted for restoration by INEOS 1:59 Challenge winner and Olympic Champion Dr. Eliud Kipchoge.

In the well-coordinated activity led by Anthony Musyoka – Head of Conservancy, North Rift Region, Kenya Forest Service (KFS), indigenous tree seedlings purchased from the community were delivered to the challenge venue, thereafter, the seedlings sleeves were cut open and placed next to the pitted holes.

The rules were stipulated, a referee picked and inspectors- a group of foresters whose sole job was to report back to the ‘referee’ once the timer stopped at two minutes whether the tree seedlings were planted properly in accordance to the KFS tree planting quality assurance protocols. The judging parameters include: depth, proper firming of tree seedlings, water-holding basin around the tree etc.

Nine competitors took part in the challenge. The participants included; Eliud Kipchoge – World marathon record holder and the first person to break the under 2-hour marathon mark,

Community members represented by Jennifer Cheboi and Chief Beatrice Chesire, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry represented by Principal Secretary Dr. Chris Kiptoo, Jackson Kiplagat representing World Wide Fund for Nature – Kenya (WWF-Kenya), Rashid Kosgei representing Kenya Riders – founders #Cyclig4Forests initiative while the Elgeiyo Marakwet County flag bearer was Abraham Barsosio – CECM Water, Lands, Environment and Climate Change.

All the nine competitors lined up at the edge of the pitted area, before the referee blew the whistle to mark the kick off of the sub-two minutes tree planting challenge.  The whistle went for fulltime at exactly 120 seconds marking the end of the exciting tree planting initiative whose attendance was restricted to help stop the spread of COVID-19

Barsosio and Rashid emerged the winners, recording 17 seedlings each, while the second runners up position was also a tie by Kipchoge and Dr. Kiptoo, the third position went to Kiplagat. On average 12 tree seedlings were planted in two minutes with the least planted being 8.

“I am happy 1:59 has inspired forest conservation. Sports and environmental conservation are joined at the hip, you cannot run in a polluted environment. This challenge, therefore, should inspire us in life to make a difference even one second or those two minutes are critical.” Eliud Kipchoge – Olympic Champion

“A good environment equals good health and the success of our athletes and the success of humanity will definitely depend on how good our environment is. Let’s protect it and I will ask each one of us – What is your under two-minute challenge?” added Jackson Kiplagat – Sustainable Investments Expert at the conservation organisation WWF-Kenya.

The mock tree planting marathon according to Dr. Kiptoo marks the homestretch to the government’s ambitious 1.8 Billion trees by 2022 vision launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2018, and will culminate to one of the biggest people led movements to restore the country’s forest cover and further protect and conserve.

“If 35 million Kenyans committed to planting at least 17 trees in two minutes we will plant 595 million trees in a single day under two minutes. As a nation, we want to break the Guinness World Record. We are aiming at 2 billion trees by 2022. As we galvanize Kenyan’s, let us   remember that While doing this Conservation of forests cannot happen without communities. I am happy to note that we have 3,080 Community Forest Association members here. We will work to ensure they enjoy their user rights”” He added

“Look at this economically in two minutes you plant 20 trees in your farm, then give it time and get 20,000 per tree. If you Dedicate two minutes every day to planting trees, imagine the economic and ecological impact?” Abraham Barsosio – CECM Water, Lands, Environment and Climate Change, Elgeiyo Marakwet County

The process of gazettement the forest as a water tower due to its national importance have kicked off. Kaptagat forest is a source of many rivers supporting livelihoods upstream and   downstream. These include the Chepkoilel, Kichumbere , Moben , Cheptaargok, Chemorok , Tuiyobei and Ellegrini Rivers which eventually flow to Lake Victoria. The forest is also used to abstract water which is used in Iten and Eldoret towns as well  forest adjacent communities.

By restoring Kaptagat forest, the community and stakeholder will be contributing to meeting the national commitment of 10% forest cover as well as commitments made by Kenya as part of the global community.  The Kenyan government, has set out various targets under the current forest programmes, National Climate Change Action Plan, The Green Economy Strategy and Internationally the Forest landscape Target of 5.2 million Hectares and the mitigation and adaptation commitments under Nationally Determined Contributions within the Paris Agreement.

Kaptagat forest Block, constitutes three forest stations namely Kaptagat, Penon and Sabor.  The block consists of 7,826.2ha of plantation, 5,237.08 Natural Forest indigenous, 514.1ha grassland, 1,595 Bushland and 25.4ha of Bamboo vegetation total forest area 15,268.1 ha.

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