"Having come on the cycle trip and seen exactly where the money goes, I am full of admiration for the team at COCO because the kids seem so happy and full of hope." - Daley Thompson CBE, Two-time Olympic gold medal winner
The last week has been simply incredible. 10 cyclists including 3 Olympians, battled through torrential rain, blistering heat and unforgiving terrain to complete the Maasai Cycle Challenge in Kenya. All proceeds from the cycle have gone towards the Maasai Academy, which is COCO's Schools for Life project in this remote area.
On day one, the cyclists braved the sun to cycle through land that sits at the edge of the Maasai Mara. Morale was boosted by the sight of monkeys, giraffe, gazelles, zebra and wildebeest before the final uphill ascent to Moses' camp. Moses is the Maasai warrior pictured with Colin Murray below.
Day two started well although the weather soon turned against the group, with uncharacteristic January downpours resulting in muddy roads, overflowing rivers and almost impassable bridges. Camp 2 was abandoned in favour of a local hotel and despite the very basic facilities, no complaints were made whilst the cyclists embraced the challenges thrown at them; making a campfire to dry off the soaked socks and trainers.
Day 3 – the day of punctures! The rough terrain simply proved too much for many of the bikes! The sun came out and arrival at a camp with bucket showers was just the tonic for aching limbs.
Day 4 began with a visit to Maasai Academy. Students, teachers and parents gave the group a very warm welcome. Steve Cram and Daley Thompson opened the new nursery classroom, which a lot of the funds raised from the cycle had contributed towards. This enabled the group to see exactly where their fundraising had gone.
"It's been really tough, but incredible. We opened a new classroom which our sponsorship has funded. It was emotional and humbling." - Ishmael Herrera-Lee, Properties Unique
Before departing the school to complete the challenge, there was time for a football match against the Massai! The COCO team did us proud by winning after a penalty shootout in front of a crowd of 130 cheering students. Radio DJ Colin Murray may be hoping his performance will earn him a place in Northern Ireland’s squad for the European Championships in France; he encouraged the students to chant olé olé throughout to give the feel of a big tournament! Rather than the winning team receiving a trophy, they were instead given a goat as a token of thanks from the wonderful community!
Upon departing the Maasai Academy, the group completed the final 25km stretch to Enchorro Naibor and were treated to a spectacular view across the Rift Valley.
"I am so proud of the whole group who had to contend with challenging conditions on top of the testing terrain, but they never faltered in their determination and enthusiasm to complete the ride. I know that the morning spent at Maasai Academy provided that extra injection of energy required, as they saw first hand how much COCO has managed to achieve in that community due to their efforts... Winning the Maasai vs. COCO football match was a bonus!" - Steve Cram CBE, COCO Co-Founder
The entire experience was an absolute privilege; not only to see the great work being undertaken in partnership with COCO, but to see the determination and effort that 10 individuals gave to complete this demanding challenge. All of us at COCO are so grateful for the support and look forward to sharing news of how the remaining funds from this challenge will be used to improve education for children in some of the most hard to reach parts of East Africa!
If you would like to be a part of the next challenge please contact [email protected]