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.
Max, an experienced marathon runner, joined us from the Netherlands when he was searching for an event outside his own country. He ran the 42K, fundraised for the project ‘Youth with a Vision’ and also extended his time in Uganda to go on a Safari and Gorilla Trekking in the Rainforest!
1. What made you sign up to the Uganda Marathon?
I was looking on the internet for a marathon outside of the Netherlands where I live and coincidentally found the Uganda Marathon. When I had a look at their website and discovered that the Uganda Marathon is more than just a marathon, but a full week of meeting new people and getting involved with development projects and local people, I got quite excited. I had never seen such projects from close by and the marathon looked like a great challenge. As they also offered safari extensions and I was still making new holiday plans, it all came together and I signed up.
2. During the week, you stayed at our hotel option. How was it?
The hotel was good and there were quite a few runners staying there. The room was comfy and the staff were very friendly. The pool is a good place to cool down from the African sun and I even hit the gym a couple of times.
3. You visited the project ‘Youth with a Vision’ during the week, the project you were fundraising for. Could you tell us what it was like to visit the project, and about the day itself?
Prior to this day, I had never been involved with this sort of voluntary work or any development projects. To be honest, I have always been quite sceptical towards fundraising and development projects, but now I am convinced that the Uganda Marathon makes a difference! I really liked that the project is sustainable. It was amazing to meet these ambitious Ugandan young people who want to set up their own business not to only make money, but also to add value to the community. It was great to share our knowledge and use our skill set to help them move forward. We helped them create a business plan, which they needed to be able to get a loan from the project, to then set up a sustainable business.
4. You joined us in Uganda having run previous marathons. Could you tell us about your experience of Race Day and what it was like to run in Uganda?
Before I came to Uganda I had done four other marathons, three regular city marathons and the Jungfrau marathon in Switzerland. I also had done a couple of trail runs and I prefer these and more special marathons compared to the average city marathon. The Uganda Marathon was amazing; the heat, the non-asphalt roads with holes and the hills make it a great challenge and can be considered ‘next level’.
Race Day itself was a great day. After a solid breakfast in the hotel, there was an exciting warm-up with a DJ, music and all the local people. After finishing everyone stayed near the finish line to cheer on fellow runners and share experiences. That night we had dinner with all the runners at the campsite, received our beautiful medals and enjoyed a good dinner and well-deserved beers. A great end to an amazing week.
5. Prior to the week, you participated in the Safari and Gorilla Trekking extension. Could you sum up the experience for us and tells us a highlight of each part?
During the Safari and the Gorilla Trekking, I travelled with three other runners and our Ugandan driver. It was great to meet other runners already and we got along very well which made it a good trip. On the second day, we did the Gorilla Trekking where we stood eye to eye with the Silverback just a couple of meters apart – truly a magical moment. Afterwards, we saw the rest of the gorilla family and even the baby of the family slamming his chest. During the Safari we encountered a lot of animals, hippos, elephants, lions and even a cheetah which is rarely seen!