The Maralal Camel Derby is an annual event, held midyear just outside of Maralal town. This is Kenya’s best known and most prestigious camel race, attracting both local and international competitors. The event is a major draw for spectators as well as racers, and the competition is fierce. Many local professional camel racers come to compete each year. Some of the finest racing camels are seen in town during the race period. The race is a great social event, and the major event on the Maralal Calendar.
The race begins in the center of town, where a throng of camels at the at the start line. Flagged off by local dignitaries, the race begins with initial chaos as the camels break across the line. The less ‘professional’ camel jockeys often lose control of their over-excited steeds, which often decide to run the race in the completely opposite direction. As the amateurs head off in whichever direction their camel chooses, the professionals break free and head for the course at breakneck speed. Cheering supporters line the route, and the final stretch is always alive with excited spectators as the winners cross the line
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