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Note from Editor: Claire Williams and Hope Runs co-founder, Lara Vogel, were recently featured in Runner's World magazine for their inspirational running program in Kenya. If you would like to learn more about the exciting work Claire and Lara are doing, visit HopeRuns.org.

Running Background:

marathon photoWe ran this marathon with 22 AIDS orphans from the Tumaini Children's Home as part of our Hope Runs program.

Hope Runs is a non-profit organization that brings running and technology programs to AIDS orphanages in East Africa. We use international volunteers and local hires to carry out our extracurricular programs, and in 2008 we will be in four orphanages in Kenya and Tanzania.

Training:

All our teenagers were first time marathoners and we followed a marathon training schedule most closely aligned with David Whitsett's "The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer" - fantastic book for first time teens! We trained for 4 and a half months and averaged about 30 miles per week.

Our kids were horrible about drinking water - they simply wouldn't drink enough! This was the number one advice we gave out as coaches, and the number one thing that improved their performance.

Race Day:

The 2007 Mt. Kenya SafariCom Marathon was better than expected. The course is supposed to be one of the top ten most difficult in the world! Not sure if we thought it was all that hard, but it was definitely challenging.

The support was truly amazing. Considering you are in the middle of nowhere, the stations were extremely well equipped, and volunteers came on motorcycles to deliver water at times! Some of our kids saw animals, also!

The race was extremely expensive, though: 300 USD for Americans, nearly 35 USD for Kenyans. As a non-profit organization sponsoring kids to run, we hope to find a race for our kids in 2008 that is able to help us more with the fees. The Mt. Kilimanjaro Race has offered, and so we may go with them!

Recovery:

My recovery wasn't too bad. Sleep, water, and calories!

Running Gear Recommendations:

ASICS Trail Running Shoes
Trail running shoes are a must on this course. Both founders of Hope Runs swear by ASICS.
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

It is amazing adventure. In general, running is so important for mental and physical health. At Hope Runs, we have loved seeing the impact running has had on these kids lives -- they do better in school, have fewer behavioral problems, and there has been a marked increase in self-esteem among the girls in our programs!

Plans to Run Another:

In December of 2008 and January of 2009, Hope Runs is putting on the Hope Runs 777 Challenge: 7 Marathons in 7 Continents in 7 Weeks (only 1-2 team members will run the 7th continent). We're set to break a couple of the current Guinness Records and the team is very excited.

Each runner fundraises and through a PR campaign for the event we hope to raise 250K for the Hope Runs Education Fund at our orphanages, which is dedicated to paying for the college education of the Hope Runs kids. These children have no other chance of attending college, and we are dedicated to making this possible for them.

We are looking for about 5 more team members and so would love to chat if you have interest!

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