Migration Gravel Race
Brooks England signs on as sponsor of the beautiful Migration Gravel Race that spans the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
By Oskar Scarsbrook
Brooks England is excited to announce that we have signed on as sponsors for the multi-day Migration Gravel Race in Kenya. Through this partnership, we hope to assist organisers AMANI Initiative in making top bike races accessible to East African cyclists.
Taking place from June 23-26, The Migration Gravel Race is a semi supported stage race that traverses the wilds of Kenya’s Maasai Mara Reserve. Over four stages, the race totals 650 kilometres and has an eye-watering 8,000 metres of elevation gain entirely on gravel roads. If that doesn’t sound tricky enough, the region lies on the equator and is at an average altitude of 1,900 metres.
What the racers will benefit from though is the opportunity to explore one of the most beautiful places in the world. Navigating the Maasai villages, changeable climate, rolling plains, sparkling rivers and imposing mountains of this big game land is a unique experience that will showcase the very best of this incredible country’s beauty.
The race gets its name from the annual migration of the wildebeest across the Maasai plains. In fact, it’s not just these majestic animals that racers will see, the route is a veritable feast of East African game with giraffes ducking acacia trees, and zebra and antelopes roaming the plains. The racers may even be able to tick off Kenya’s big five: lions, leopards, rhinoceros, elephants and buffalo. This is one of the main reasons the race takes place over four days with secure checkpoints as it would be too dangerous to ride at night – a small price to pay for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The bikes will have to be ready for what is to come too as the race is characterised by rough, hard packed gravel trails, stretches of tricky singletrack and the continent’s famous red clay roads. This laterite ground develops over time thanks to a combination of intense heat and heavy rainfall. The sesquioxides of iron and aluminium are what gives the ground its rich colour, and the dust which will no doubt coat the racers’ bikes.
With such great conditions and roads for racing it’s a bit of a surprise that there isn’t more cycling culture in the region as yet. This is partly because of the closed access to the sport in East Africa, and the fact motorists are not yet used to seeing cyclists on the road. This is why taking the race off-road is so important.
The race hopes to show off these lands to the outside world and encourage the best gravel racers to travel and test themselves on this wild terrain. Although the primary goal is to promote competitive racing, this integration of racers from all over the world will help to develop the talents of homegrown Kenyan cyclists. In turn, this will help the growth of a cycling culture in the country.
As well as the competitive angle, the race also aims to promote recreational exploration of the region by bike and help riders aspire to a different kind of future. We have seen how this has developed in other countries like Rwanda and Eritrea and this is the beginning of that journey for Kenya. Looking at track and field, and specifically the world-famous performance of Kenyan long-distance runners in the 1960s that helped advance all areas of the sport, there is no reason the same can’t happen in gravel cycling.
This advancement is close to the hearts of the organising committee. Created by the AMANI project, The Gravel Migration Race is part of an initiative to improve inclusivity in the sport and race opportunities in East Africa. Due to unstable finances, there are limited options for local riders to advance, so the project hopes to create a more sustainable model to support the riders. As well as organising the event, the AMANI Initiative also competes with the aim of inspiring young cyclists. Brooks England is delighted to join the efforts of the organisers in this regard especially.
One of the most unique aspects of this already spectacularly unique race is the connection with the Maasai community and their lands. Of course, without this blessing the race would not be able to navigate such an important and protected region. As a result, AMANI consult Maasai tribesman to make them part of the process and help in the conservation of these unspoiled lands.
Events like the Migration Gravel race showcase not just the stunning local vistas, but also the power of the bicycle to bring communities together, while also seeking to develop shared international values.
Registration has closed for this year’s event, but Brooks’ commitment to this incredible project will run through the 2022 and 2023 editions. To keep apace with registration make sure to check out the, and you can learn more about organisers the .
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