Sweaty altitude metres and kilometres for a good cause
To give girls in East Africa a chance at education, Beat Lohner, Barbara Messner and Nicola Reinisch ran 111 kilometres and over 6,500 metres of altitude in 5 days from North Tyrol to South Tyrol.
Education is still not a matter of course in many parts of the world, including Kenya. Low incomes from agriculture and large household sizes put pressure on the families’ limited financial resources. For girls in particular, fathers often forego schooling, and instead forced marriages at the age of 14 are the order of the day. The Tyrolean association MOYO – More Heart for Girls and Women of the World, has set itself the goal of changing this and collects donations to provide girls with a school education and thus a basis for a self-determined life independent of men.
Beat Lohner has already completed a charity run for a similar project in Tanzania in 2019. Through a Tyrolean friend who lives in Liechtenstein, Nicola Reinisch and Barbara Messner, both members of the MOYO association, became aware of the Swiss mountain runner. After a short meeting at Lake Achensee, they immediately sympathised and the project “Running for Girls’ Education in Kenya” was born. Although the two Tyrolean women were sceptical about the mountain runner’s first tour proposal (long daily stages and great differences in altitude), the idea of doing something good ultimately won out and they therefore took on the challenge.
The trio started in Obernberg am Brenner on 21 June 2023 in fantastic weather. The first stage took them across the green border, the so-called “smuggler’s path” to South Tyrol. This shortest stage of the tour served as a team-building exercise, as the three runners had never been on the road together before. It quickly became clear that the chemistry was right. If there was ever a lull or the sun was too hot, they motivated each other and reminded each other of the good purpose of the run. The next daily stages became increasingly demanding: there were 3000 metres of altitude difference and over 20 kilometres to cover every day. Snowfields, thunderstorms and animals on the way posed additional challenges for the trio. Finally, on 25 June 2023, in midsummer temperatures, the final destination of Mals near Meran was reached. The relief was written all over Barbara Messner’s, Nicola Reinisch’s and Beat Lohner’s faces when they saw the Mals town sign and other MOYO club members were waiting for the three athletes.
Barbara Messner’s words hit the mark: “Unforgettable, beautiful and challenging days have come to an end. We were a good team and helped each other, that’s the only way this project worked and it also sets an example of what people can achieve together”.
All the sweat and hardship seemed to be forgotten as the thought of having done something good prevailed: Girls in Kenya get a chance for education and an independent life.
With this project and thanks to Beat Lohner’s tireless efforts, 15,614.45 Swiss Francs (EURO 16,472.20) in donations could be collected. The handover took place on 26.10.2023 in Vaduz. The Tyrolean association MOYO – More Heart for Girls and Women of the World will travel to Africa in February 2024 and hand over the money to the project partner on site.