Finn completes African run for mountain gorillas

Hämeenlinna resident Jyri Reinikka made good on a pledge to run as many kilometres as there were mountain gorillas left in the world. Reinikka, who began his awareness campaign on December 29, completed the 800-kilometre run in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on January 17.

Ugandalaiset olivat tietoisia suomalaisen urakasta juosta halki heidän maansa. Niinpä seuraa löytyi yllättävissakin paikoissa. Image: 800 reasons

Activist Jyri Reinikka was so inspired by his challenge, even at the very end, that he quickened his pace and reached his goal one day early on January 17. Reinikka had pledged to run an 800-kilometre marathon in 21 days.

“I’m very tired now that I’ve allowed my body to rest. But at the same time I’m extremely happy,” Reinikka told Yle.

The Finnish runner left the border between Uganda and Kenya on December 29 and reached the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo on January 17 around 4.00pm Finnish time.

The runner had covered 880 kilometres in intense heat, torrential rains and over dusty and sometimes muddy roads. He managed a marathon-grade pace of over 40 kilometres per day.

Finnish and Ugandan flags flying

Although he expected the final stretch of the journey to be the most challenging, the activist found the opposite occurred. In spite of the very varied topography of western Uganda and a troublesome complaint in his left knee, the Hämeenlinna entrepreneur was able to pick up the pace to cover over 55 kilometres on the penultimate day and 58 on the last day of his run.

The flags of Finland and Uganda awaited Reinikka when he reached the border. When locals found out about the background to his trip, many asked for his autograph.

Reinikka hoped his arduous stunt would draw attention to the plight of endangered mountain gorillas, of which just about 800 are left. Some of them can be found in Uganda.

After a weekend of rest, Reinikka and his team will return to Finland on Wednesday.