After Joan Massah Cherop broke the tape to win the 2019 Detroit Marathon, she knew 2020 was going to be a year of even bigger races and greater opportunities. Soon, an invitation to the Paris Marathon confirmed her hopes, and she stepped up her training.
We all know what happened next through: race delays and cancellations. Like many athletes, this left Joan not just feeling let down, but struggling financially.
Her main sponsor, the Kenyan running company Enda, jumped into action to help. Following the Kenyan running tradition of working with others to lift each other up, Enda built a coalition of brands in the running space to sponsor Joan and fellow athletes Kenneth Kemboi, Sussy Chebet, and Alfred Moindi to attempt to set new fastest known times (FKT) running up Mt. Kenya.
Here are the brands who came together to support the athletes and a bit about why they’re taking part in this historic effort:
COROS is a performance technology company that helps athletes train to be their best. Their GPS running watches are perhaps the most respected in the growing trail running community in part due to their tremendous durability and battery life. The COROS APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch will be key to tracking the athlete’s efforts on Mt. Kenya including their pace, distance, elevation and heart rate as they take on this epic adventure.
Dan Suher, Director of Global Sales and Marketing at COROS said, “For COROS it’s all about the outdoors, mountains, and a passionate active lifestyle. We are excited for the opportunity to expand the reach of trail running to a new, underrepresented community. Our motto is Explore Perfection, and nothing embodies this phrase like the chase of an FKT on Africa’s second tallest peak!”
Enda makes Kenyan running shoes. They work with Kenyan athletes to design and develop shoes for a natural midfoot strike and are tailored to make the most of different types of running workouts. The athletes are running in the Enda Lapatet cushioned daily trainer which is designed to provide comfort on any length of run. Like all Enda shoes, they are proudly made in Kenya, certified Climate Neutral, and include a 2% contribution to community development in Kenya. Making them the most ethical running shoes in the world.
Navalayo Osembo, Co-Founder of Enda said, “We want to help everyone run Kenyan, which means working together to achieve great things. So it’s an honor to have such great athletes and companies coming together for this historic effort. Joan and Kenneth help design the shoes they train in, our daily trainer the Lapatet, and we’re really excited to have them using our new trail shoe as they take on this incredible challenge. It’s about time a Kenyan, wearing Kenyan-made running shoes, held the record for Kenya’s tallest mountain.”
Janji makes inspired performance running essentials to equip you wherever you run or roam. Each Janji collection is inspired by a different region of the world and 2% of every sale gives back towards supporting clean water solutions in the places they run, based on the mission that water is a human right for all.
Mike Burnstein, Co-Founder at Janji said, “At Janji we believe that running is the best way to explore the world around us, and while we love running in cities, there is something magical about getting off pavement and into nature. At Janji we design gear at the intersection of running and adventure, so naturally the idea of kitting out some of the world’s best marathoners as they veer off-road gets us fired up.”
UltrAspire is an innovative hydration accessories and waist lighting company. The gear is designed from the ground up to meet the needs of adventurers ranging from entry level to the most elite competitors in the world. It is imperative for gear to be intuitive, practical, and functional in the most extreme conditions.
Joe Petty, Marketing Director at UltrAspire said, “We believe innovation comes from need, and the need is discovered by pushing your limits to the extreme. At UltrAspire, we are inspired by athletes and excited to support some of the world’s greatest competitors as they tackle this monster of an endeavor.”
Over the next 3 months, the athletes will attempt to set records on all three major routes, including breaking the 25 year old record on the challenging Sirimon route set by Italian athlete Fabio Meraldi. Each run starts in a tropical rainforest, then climbs roughly 2750m (9000 ft) to the snow capped summit of Pt Lenana at 4,985m (16,355 ft).
The three routes all present different challenges.
Sirimon – 48.2 km round trip with 2,410m climbing (7906 ft)
This is the longest and most steady route. It starts in an equatorial forest and runs up the long side of the mountain. It’s the easiest (though longest) approach, so is the most popular route.
Chogoria – 36 km round trip with 2,032 m climbing (6666ft)
This route starts in a lush hot tropical rainforest on the rainy side of the mountain and runs along the edge of a beautiful canyon. Wildlife, especially elephants and buffalo, are a concern at the start of the route for the first 4-5km in the forest.
Naro Moru – 28.46 km round trip with 1,898m of climbing (6227 ft)
This route is a vertical bog. Waterlogged ground the whole way and then finishes going up a 300m vertical glacial scree field. Though shortest, the terrain makes this potentially the most difficult.