Here, we interview runners who have participated in the Uganda Marathon, so they can share their stories and experiences from the 7-Day Adventure. After all, it’s their involvement which makes the week so special, from the impact they have on the projects, to community feel they give to the race.
Passionate about education, Chloe, from London, ran our 42K race in support of Bugabira Primary School. The fastest female International Runner at the 2017 marathon, she talks about the race, training, volunteering at the projects, and the special experience she had staying at the Athletes’ Village.
1. What made you sign up for the Uganda Marathon and was it what you expected?
The Uganda Marathon had been on my radar for a while and when a friend of mine, Chris, from Project Awesome told me he’d signed up and that I should too, it became a no-brainer. It was clear this was going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
2. In the lead-up to the event, you participated in some of our social training runs in London. Could you tell us about your experience of these?
These were great. Admittedly, before signing up I had assumed everyone else would be super-competitive, elite runners looking for an extreme endurance challenge… But in reality, the people who sign up do so for a plethora of reasons; the prime being for the experience (not the race). A massive proportion of people have never run a marathon before (!) and it was very reassuring to see the range of running abilities in the group. But most importantly, it was great to get to know everyone beforehand. Something about this race brings the best kind of people together, and I can guarantee that the friends you make through this experience will be some of the best.
3. Which project did you choose to fundraise for and why? What was it like to volunteer at the project during the week?
I chose to volunteer at Bugabira school. It was an easy decision for me as education for all is something I am passionate about. The most striking thing about seeing the project (and all the projects) is how much difference the marathon has made. Any donations have been very expertly allocated and fund projects which can become self-sustaining; the only way to truly help in the long run. At Bugabira we saw how money from previous years had helped the school grow their own crops and chickens (for both food and income) and this year we helped dig a trench from a well so that the school can afford clean water and put the money they would have spent on water towards other things such as books.
The school children themselves were perhaps the best thing about the week for me and it is impossible to describe or capture their energy, joy and enthusiasm. It was really special to spend time with them.
4. You came to Uganda as one of our more experienced runners having run previous races – what was it like to run a marathon in Uganda and how did it compare?
I was told to expect hills and heat and it did not disappoint! All the elements are against you and ultimately on the day, you just have to do your best to enjoy the race for what it is- not a flat course to PB on, but the end of a once in a lifetime experience, running through the town and projects which you’ve helped over the past week. It is a hard race, there’s no sugarcoating it, but the harder the race the more treasured the experience. You will come back sore, tired and dirty but full of pride.
…and how did it feel to cross the finish line as our fastest female international runner!?
Definitely one of the top 5 weirdest moments of my life was meeting the Prince! I think I have my dioralyte tablets which I mixed in my camelback to thank. They saved the day- hydration is the key to success (in Uganda)!
5. Finally, what was your best overall memory from the 7-days, and how would you sum it up for someone who hasn’t been?
One of my best memories from the week was just sitting by the campfire one eve, with friends (old and new), belly full of good food and surprisingly good Ugandan beer, watching the local dancers around the fire. It’s difficult to explain how amazing this week is; the country, the landscape, the people and the experience, and I cannot recommend it enough!
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