Page last updated at 09:43 GMT, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 10:43 UK

Maasai team opens marathon event

Maasai warriors
The warriors will run the marathon wearing their traditional outfit

Six Maasai warriors from northern Tanzania, who will be running in the London Marathon, have opened an exhibition dedicated to the race.

The warriors are raising money to provide safe drinking water in Elaui, their village in eastern Africa.

They will run the 26-mile route on Sunday wearing traditional clothes, as well as shoes made from car tyres.

The six, who opened the London Marathon Exhibition in Docklands, will also carry sticks and sing while running.

The Maasai lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle where cows are a valued asset.

The Maasai were enthralled and amused by the idea that money could be raised by running
Paul Martin

They are known for their running abilities and traditionally live on a diet featuring blood and milk.

Isaya, who is leading the Maasai team, said previously: "Our elders told us that we can do it because we have been running all over for killing a lion and herding cattle.

"We can help them by getting them clean water so right now all of us are training very hard because we want to do it to make life easier for the Maasai people."

Maasai runners wearing car tyre shoes
The Maasai team will be wearing shoes made from car tyres

Greenforce, an aid organisation which has been working with the Maasai since 2005, organised their participation in the marathon.

Paul Martin, from Greenforce, who will also run with the warriors, said: "The Maasai were enthralled and amused by the idea that money could be raised by running.

"The Maasai are proud people, and they see this as an innovative way to raise money and supply their village with clean water."

The organisation estimates that the cost of locating water and building a sustainable bore hole for the village will be between 20,000 to 60,000.

There are between 500,000 and a million Maasai in Africa, who mostly live in northern Tanzania and southern Kenya.

Some 40,00 people are expected to run in the London Marathon.

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