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.
Hannah chose to fundraise for the Charity Project, Women’s Soroptimists, by running our half marathon event, which actually turned out to be her first EVER half marathon! Below, she shares her account of the week, from staying at Athletes’ Village to visiting the Charity Project to Race Day…
1. What made you sign up for the Uganda Marathon and was it what you expected?
A few of my friends had signed up and I knew some of the organisers, and it sounded like a brilliant week! I’d never been to Uganda before and had never tried to run a half marathon before, and thought, ‘Why not make Uganda my first?’ It was far more than I had expected – amazingly friendly and cheerful locals, a brilliant spirit and atmosphere in the camp, and the most amazing avocados and fresh fruit…!
2. How did you find staying at Athlete’s Village and camping in the hills of Uganda?
The views from the Athletes’ Village were stunning, and the camp itself is beautiful. I was surprised by how lush and green Uganda was!
3. What project did you choose to fundraise for and why? Could you tell us about your experience with the project in Uganda?
I fundraised for the Women’s Soroptimists project. Empowerment of women and girls in communities has far-reaching, positive benefits for the society as a whole, and groups like Women’s Soroptimists help vulnerable women in their own community – using a philosophy of ‘hand up, not hand out’ – to achieve their potential.
We visited their headquarters and helped to make sanitary products for local women and girls. Education is key to empowering women and yet periods can derail even the most determined schoolgirl. We took the ones we made to the local women’s prison, where we were greeted by the most inspiringly cheerful and welcoming inmates (most of whom did not deserve to be incarcerated; for most, their only crime was to be female). It was amazing how easily we joked and laughed with each other, and they showed us how they made crafts, danced, and sang to pass their time in the prison. We all left the prison looking at life and its priorities very differently.
4. What was it like to participate in the half marathon event on Race Day?
The atmosphere was brilliant, the locals were so enthusiastic and competitive, and no matter where each runner came from, they were encouraging and urging on the other runners when things got tough. I was adopted by a Ugandan runner, Katumba, on the way around and we had a brilliant conversation along the route, which was highly motivational. I also indoctrinated some of the local runners in the benefits of Jelly Babies for running events!
5. Finally, what was your favourite memory from the week and how would you sum it up for someone who hasn’t been?
My favourite memory was the day spent visiting our project and the women’s prison – it will stay with me for a long time. Overall – a brilliant and memorable week.
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