Interview: Uganda International Marathon

13 Feb 2015 19:00
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race Interview
Credit : Uganda International Marathon

Hello, on May 24th 2015, you’ll be organizing the Uganda International Marathon. Can you tell us where it is located?

The Uganda International Marathon is being held in the town of Masaka, near to the famous Lake Victoria – source of the river Nile. The entire community of Masaka has opened their doors to this event and the 6 days where runners stay within the community are going to be embraced by the whole town.

This is one of the main reasons that The Uganda Marathon is an adventure like no other. We aren’t just visiting a town, running a race and then leaving again. Runners will immerse themselves within the town, get involved with local goings on and see the appreciation of the fundraising within this amazing African community

This will be the first edition of the race. What was your motivation in creating it?

Where to start? The race is the brainchild of the Shauku foundation, a charity that enables anyone to get full charitable benefit from fundraising for small projects. Over the past 2 years, Shauku raised £3,000 to build an orphanage in Masaka for around 180 children. To launch the opening of the orphanage Shauku planned a short run around Masaka for the people involved in funding the orphanage.

The initial response for this race was phenomenal! What we thought was “just a fun thing to do” turned into this bigger and bigger event that has, in a very short space of time, become Uganda’s first international marathon.

Our motivations to keep going and make this the most amazing running event on the planet is to bring something to an exceptional African community, to show runners an entirely different culture of running, and to reinvent what a charitable marathon event looks like.

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

The route is being planned as you read this write now ☺. We have a very experienced marathoner sourcing out the best scenery, the most interesting tracks but ultimately the most achievable route around Masaka. Because the community is so keen for this event, we have complete free reign to map the route round the town and surrounding areas, so it is going to be a good one!

The terrain around Masaka is going to be rough and hilly, this is going to be mostly a trail marathon, a bit of tarmac, rough road, rutted path, uphill downhill – don’t expect to get a PB on this but it will be a unique race!

How many runners do you expect on Sunday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

We are expecting around 1,500 runners, of which about 200 will be international runners; the rest will be Ugandan locals and expats.

Our runners will all be people looking to adventure and do something out of the ordinary. Of the signups so far 4 out of every 10 runners have never done a marathon before so the standard is extremely varied. What makes this race special is the atmosphere of the race during the day.

Do you organize other races during the Weekend? If so, on what distances?

We’re doing 3 races in total; the full marathon, the half marathon and the marathon relay.

We’re really excited about the marathon relay as it turns it into a team event. The idea is that 4 people run a quarter of the course each, we ferry them out to points in the course and the previous runner tags them in as they arrive.

Runners don’t necessarily have to sign up in teams of 4 as we are matching people up with others. It means that if you want to come along but aren’t comfortable running that kind of distance, you can still take part.

Credit : Uganda International Marathon

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

May is towards the end of the Ugandan rainy season, which means it’s going to be quite wet and muddy. Temperatures are at a high of 25 degrees and a low of 18 degrees. The race will be at 6’o clock in the morning, which should be relatively cool.

This is going to be a tough race, in tough conditions. However, if you can run a marathon distance then you’ll be able to do this marathon – it’ll just be slower! We have taken stringent medical precautions should people be susceptible to overheating.

Have you planned festivities around the marathon?

We have planned so many festivities – it’s what truly makes this a race like no other!

During the 6 day stay, runners will stay with an African family. You’ll hear their stories, eat their food and take part in their lives during the run up. You’ll also get to visit and volunteer at some of the projects that the marathon is supporting. Whatever your chosen project is, you’ll be able to visit the people that your fundraising has directly helped.

Then 2 days before the marathon, we are holding the Kids Run Wild event, a 2km race for the children of Masaka, marshaled by The Uganda Marathon runners. You’ll cheer them over the finishing line, hand out medals and share in their joy as they take part in the race.

The day before the race there will be a pasta party hosted by Masaka Town, they’ll thank you for your hard work by cooking a delicious meal before the big day!

Finally, after you exhaustedly cross the finish line we are putting on a carnival that will last for the rest of the day. You can celebrate your amazing achievement by partying with the African town, they are very excited about this!

Credit : Uganda International Marathon

The race finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Masaka before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing, a must-do activity?

There is so much to do in Uganda and we invite you to stay as long as you like to explore all you can.

Uganda is one of the best places in the world to see gorillas so we highly recommend doing the gorilla tour. You can go walking with the animals and sometimes get to sit with them and stroke them.

There’s also safaris to enjoy, sites to see, places to walk. Africa is a beautiful, amazing place and we want you to do as much of it as possible. Once you’re signed up, our team will be in touch to find out what you are interested in and what we can arrange for you.

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Uganda International Marathon?

The Uganda Marathon – A Race Like No Other is an opportunity to undergo a real adventure! Do something completely different that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Interview with Andy Miller.