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.
Simon, from London, joined us when he was looking for a different type of challenge. During the week itself, he stayed at Athletes’ Village, ran the 42K, and volunteered at Youth with a Vision’ – using his professional skills to mentor the very students he’d fundraised for in the lead up to the event.
1. What made you sign up for the Uganda Marathon and was it what you expected?
I signed up for Uganda Marathon as I was looking for a different sort of experience. I had done one marathon previously (London) and wanted to take on a completely different challenge in 2017. I hadn’t been to Africa before so when my friend Clare signed up for UGM and asked me to join her, it seemed to tick all the boxes; a unique challenge, a country I had never been to, and the opportunity to give up some of my time to benefit other people.
It was everything I expected and more. I thought Uganda would be a great country to visit but it really blew my mind. It was incredibly beautiful and the people are amazing. So happy, friendly and welcoming. The marathon was the perfect end to a special week.
2. During the week, you stayed at Athletes’ Village. How was it?
I loved the Athletes’ Village. It was the perfect camp for a week in Masaka and the perfect place to get to know all of the other runners and the UGM team. Everything about it was traditionally Ugandan and I really enjoyed the whole experience, from the early starts, to the open air showers and the late nights around the campfire (and the bar!). The food was amazing and the whole camping experience was a lot of fun.
3. Could you tell us about your experience on the Project Days – the Upcycling day on Wednesday and of your visit to ‘Youth with a Vision’ on Thursday?
The project days were undoubtedly one of the most memorable parts of the UGM experience. The upcycling day gave us a great opportunity to find out more about the local area and the challenges the community is facing, whilst allowing us to come together as a group and create a lasting legacy by making the bins [from up-cycling]!
Visiting ‘Youth with a vision’, finding out the story of the project and getting the opportunity to help young people with their business plans was a particular highlight for me. Myself and two other runners helped two young guys with their business idea of setting up a business making bricks. The entrepreneurial spirit among the group of youths was overwhelming and it was great to be able to use my experience to help them on their journey. It was great to see first-hand exactly what our fundraising was supporting.
4. You joined us in Uganda as one of our more experienced runners, having completed a marathon before. What was it like to run the marathon in Uganda?
The marathon was a surreal experience. I ran with my friend Clare so it was great to be able to appreciate the experience together. Running 26 miles through the villages, dirt roads, hills (mountains!?), and beautiful scenery of Uganda was an experience I will certainly never forget. I would recommend the marathon to anyone, whether it is your first marathon or your 100th, I guarantee it’ll be one you’ll love and never forget. Just get a few hill training sessions in beforehand!
5. Finally, what was your favourite part of the 7-day Adventure?
My highlight was the people. All of the people that make it a special week; the Ugandan community, the local village people, the children from the rehabilitation centre, the entrepreneurial youths at ‘Youth with a Vision’, the UGM team and all of the fellow runners.