Ed Norton’s Cause

Actor Edward Norton chats about his plans to run the 2009 ING New York City in support of the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. Maasai Warrior Samson Parashina, right, will also run for the cause. Photo: Laurel Wassnet

Actor aims to raise awareness, funds for Maasai tribes through NYC Marathon

Written by: Sarah Wassner Flynn

Ed Norton may have muscled up to a lean, mean grudge-matching machine for his role in the 1999 film Fight Club, but the actor says that training had nothing on what he’s done to get ready for a marathon.

“There’s no comparison,” says Norton, 40, who will be making his 26.2-mile debut at the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 1. “I got shin splints for the first time in my life. The components in acting are so much less demanding than they are for running.”

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An upclose look at Maasai Warrior Samson Parashina's tunic. The Kenyan will wear this traditional garb as he races in the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 1. Photo: Laurel Wassner.

But Norton’s not just competing for posterity’s sake: He’s leading an effort to raise money for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, which supports the preservation of biodiversity within the Maasai tribal lands of East Africa. A longtime board member and current President of the Trust, Norton made the decision to run the marathon as an homage to the Masaai Warriors in Kenya, to whom running is a way of life.  And he’s recruited 30-some team members—including illusionist David Blaine, singer Alanis Morissette and two Masaai Warriors—to join him, all together collecting more than $500,000 and counting for the cause.

Although Norton—who recently completed a three-week training stint in Kenya—admits he’s “terrified” about the race, he won’t be lonely out there: Race directors are expecting over 40,000 runners to finish the race this year.

For more details on the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, visit maasaimarathon.com.

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