An amazing 72 riders started from Turtle Bay Beach Club for the 2nd Sokoke Forest MTB Challenge at the weekend. 63 km later 68 returned after riding through coconut and cashew nut plantations, mangrove forest, down steep fast descents and up gruelling steep climbs with a return through the heart of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest with its soft sand and elephants to add to the fun…
The Sokoke Forest MTB Challenge was started to both provide a chance for cyclists to enjoy some of our diverse and challenging coastal riding conditions as well as to raise funds for the conservation of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest through which the race takes place.
Arabuko-Sokoke is ranked as one of the most important forests on mainland Africa for its biodiversity conservation value being home to at least 45 Globally threatened animals and plants. One of these is the Golden-rumped Sengi (or elephant-shrew) which is only found here in the whole world.
However, illegal logging and snaring of wildlife by forest adjacent communities seriously threaten the forest. Much of this is done to generate cash to pay school fees.
Funds raised through the Sokoke Forest MTB Challenge go towards Eco-bursaries for secondary school for children of forest adjacent families through A Rocha Kenya’s programme the Arabuko-Sokoke Schools & Eco-Tourism Scheme(ASSETS). ‘Eco-bursaries’ are not just support for school fees but have a direct link to conservation action for the forest and adjacent Mida Creek.
Cycling legend David Kinjah (left) took first prize in the men category for the second year running, despite starting two minutes behind the pack, with Thomas Kangangi and Geoffrey Langat coming in at a close second and third. In the women category Salome Kanini (right) came in first followed by Nicola Greene then Kate Crowley. See more results from the day!
Young riders joined in the excitement on the 15 km family Fun Day.
Colin Jackson, Director of A Rocha Kenya, is delighted that this year’s event was such a success, with competitors coming from around the country and as far as Uganda. ‘The funds generated will improve the lives of students around Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and thus contribute to the conservation of this globally important forest. A race such as this will also boost tourism in the area,’ he said.
One of the riders wrote ‘Many thanks to you all,I have only ever cycled 2 events (~perhaps beginning a bit late in life ~?) but from my observations and comments from friends Sokoke MTB was a very well managed, well marked, well co-ordinated, challenging contest with proceeds going towards good causes.I wish to say a big thank you to all the sponsors, the organizers, the ambulance staff, the volunteers, the Marshall’s and the very patient sweep up teams. Well done !”
We are deeply grateful to all involved in such an awesome event!
For more footage of it see the Citizen TV news clip: https://youtu.be/DYk0vHs662k