Prince William jokes he's being spared the Kenyan heat as safari marathon challenge goes virtual

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent

Prince William has revealed he has joined a virtual marathon challenge to support conservation work in Kenya.

William, 38, is patron of Tusk, which usually hosts the Lewa Safari Marathon each year.

But because of coronavirus, the marathon has had to be held virtually this year – much to the prince’s relief when it comes to running in temperatures.

In a video shared via Tusk social media, the Duke of Cambridge thanked Eliud Kipchoge, the world record holder, who was set to run on Sunday as part of the virtual challenge.

The duke said: “I’m also about to do a run myself, as part of this virtual challenge.

“Like many of you, I’m very sad not to be able to do this run in Lewa’s beautiful surroundings – though also rather relieved to be spared the altitude and the heat.

“This is not a race, there is no stopwatch. It is our way of showing Africa’s conservation community that we’re all in this together.”

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According to Tusk, participants from more than 20 countries will be taking part in the challenge and running between 5km and 42km (3 miles and 26 miles) throughout June to raise money for those working on the frontlines of conservation across Africa.

Prince William helping on a Tusk project in Lewa, Kenya. (Getty Images)

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Kipchoge, the world’s fastest marathon runner, said: “I am very pleased to back Lewa and Tusk in their efforts to raise the much needed funds for Kenya’s wildlife and provide vital support for communities and schools across my country in this time of crisis.”

In London, comedian Ivo Graham was one of those joining the run, while Tusk ambassadors Deborah Meaden and Katherine Jenkins also showed support.

William said the pandemic has threatened to undo years of progress in conservation in the African continent.

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Last week Prince William joined an online forum hosted by Tusk to see how the projects are adapting and innovating as they deal with coronavirus.

He heard about the challenges of reduced income and the knock-on effect on salaries, as well as how social distancing has impacted the work that can be done.

William has been Tusk’s royal patron since 2005,