April 16, 2008 4:48 PM

Masai run London Marathon

What interesting news! I just had to share.

A group of 6 Masai warriors ran the London marathon earlier this week, to raise money for a new well for their village. They ran the marathon in traditional attire, chanting, dancing, and walking all the way - and they raised nearly $120,000!

You can read a blog from this group's leader here: http://sport.guardian.co.uk/athletics/story/0,,2273114,00.html

Here's a link to a CNN article about the warriors and their cause: http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/04/10/maasi.marathon/index.html#cnnSTCText

Here's a fun little article about it from the London Telegraph:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/04/02/nmasai102.xml

The Masai warriors' guide to England
By Andrew Pierce
Last Updated: 1:47am BST 03/04/2008


Six Masai warriors, who are so fierce they kill male lions with their bare hands, have been warned that surviving the perils of the African bush will be child's play compared to what they can expect on their first trip to England.

The warriors, who are leaving their remote Tanzanian village to run in the London Marathon, have been given a detailed four-page guide on how to contend with the most curmudgeonly species they may ever encounter: the English office worker.


The visiting Masai will run the London marathon to raise money for water supplies back home

"You may be surprised by the number of people that there are and they all seem to be rushing around everywhere," the guide says.

"Even though some may look like they have a frown on their face, they are very friendly people - many of them just work in offices, jobs they don't enjoy, and so they do not smile as much as they should."

The warriors, who are leaving their village of Eluai in northern Tanzania for the first time, will run the 26.2-mile course in their traditional red robes, complete with shields and sticks, to raise money for life-saving water supplies back home.

The four page "Visiting England: A Cultural Briefing for the Warriors" written by volunteers from Greenforce, a British charity which is working in their village of Eluai, also warns about the perils of time keeping.

"You cannot rely on the sun to tell the time accurately and will have to rely on clocks and watches. The sun will rise and set at different times."

There is a whole section on "manners", which are described as very different to the acceptable social behaviour in Tanzania.

"Whereas at home for you it is acceptable to spit, in England it is not but, if you have to, you must do so in a sink or in some trees when no one is looking."

When nature calls they are advised to seek out a public convenience as opposed to using a tree or bush.

While the guide praises the warmth of the English people, the Masai are warned not to take their hosts' generosity for granted.

"If you see something that someone else has, like a bracelet, and you like it, then the person will find it very unusual if you were to take it and wear it."

The Masai men - who become warriors after tracking, running down and killing a male lion - may struggle with Greenforce's interpretation of how English law operates.

"For example, if someone was to see a thief and chase after him and, when they catch him they hurt him, then the person who hurt the thief would go to prison as well as the thief."

The Masai's shields and sticks, although permitted by the race organisers, must be left behind when sightseeing.

They may be tempted to engage in their natural sport of hunting in England, particularly if they spot a cow, sheep or pig in a field.

But the briefing note says: "You may see these animals in a field, seemingly left alone. It is important to remember that these animals are owned by someone and are being looked after."

The warriors, who arrive in Britain next week for the race on Sunday April 13, have also been advised not to be too offended by the brief running attire of their fellow competitors in the marathon.

"You will see many people who are wearing only small clothes and you will wonder why they are cold and may think they are being disrespectful.

"This is normal for England, especially when it is sunny or in the evening. However, it is illegal to show certain parts of the body and for this reason it is important that you wear underpants if you are wearing your blankets."

The guide provides a tour of a typical home, complete with description of what happens in a bathroom and at meal times.

"People in England eat with knives, forks and spoons. If you want to use just a spoon or fork or hands then it is not a worry.

"Many people drink alcohol in England. They do so at bars, at homes or at clubs - the English equivalent to a Masai party.

"When people drink they [seem] sillier or different. I am sure you have seen it with the Greenforce volunteers."


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