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 Charity Projects, to the community feel they give to Race Day.

Emma described her Uganda Marathon experience as, “It was unlike any trip I’ve ever been on before.

During the week, she especially enjoyed her visit to the project Scope, which gave her insight into schools in Uganda – something she found especially interesting as she works in the education sector. Below she tells us about this and the other projects she visited during the week. Plus, her emotional experience of completing her first-ever marathon!

 

 

 

1. What made you sign up to the Uganda Marathon and was it what you expected?

The first I heard about the Uganda Marathon was when I saw a post on social media from someone in my local running club saying that they had signed up. It sounded interesting but it was unlike anything I’d ever done before. The more I researched the event, the more I started to think that maybe this was something I could do. I am so glad I decided to go for it! It was 100% a good decision. The whole week lived up to everything the team had talked about online and the experience was even better than I had expected. I was overwhelmed by how welcome we were made to feel, from the moment we arrived. The week was jam-packed full of activities to give us an amazing introduction to Masaka and we had a team of local experts sharing their knowledge with us. It was unlike any trip I’d ever been on before.

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2. Which project did you choose to fundraise for and why? What was it like to visit this project during the week?

I chose to fundraise for SCOPE – a charity that builds food forests for primary schools to ensure the children have regular, nutritious meals. As an ex-teacher who still works in education, I was really interested to see what a school in Masaka was like. Having the opportunity to meet the people running the project was hugely inspirational. It was a privilege to be invited into the school to work with the children to set up their food forest, seeing directly where the money from the Uganda Marathon goes. It was great fun to work with the children and we had an unforgettable day getting to know them and the staff.

Emma and her Clan for the week, working with the children and staff to plant the new vegetable gardens with SCOPE

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3. What other Charity Projects did you get to visit during the week?

As well as our day with SCOPE, we were able to visit many of the other sustainable projects that have received funding from the Uganda Foundation [the charity arm of the event]. Our visit to Denby House showed us how young adults are being supported with life after addiction. We were also welcomed into a local prison where the women patiently showed us how to make the woven products they sell to support their families.

Our visit to Masaka Vocational Rehabilitation Centre (MVRC), where they teach vocational skills to children with disabilities, gave us a hands-on lesson in how plastic is being recycled and upcycled by several Ugandan projects in the area. They do this as it is cheaper than buying brand new versions of the equivalent tools and items. In this case, we were building plastic collection bins, which will give the project a means to collect plastic waste, which they can then sell on to a recycling business – therefore generating an income for the project.

In such a short space of time, we were able to see the huge impact that the money invested has on helping so many worthwhile projects get off the ground.

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4. Could you tell us about your experience of Race Day? What was it like to run your first marathon in Uganda?

During the week, I’d been on several of the training runs with the Masaka running club. This reassured me that I was actually able to run in the heat and at altitude! Right up until the day, I hadn’t quite decided if I’d try and run the whole marathon. But during the race, the atmosphere and support were incredible. Most runners definitely seemed to see it as a ‘run’ rather than a race and everyone was cheering each other on. All the way along the route, so many local people came out to wave and encourage us, with lots of children giving us some much-need high fives! Although it was very challenging, it was also great fun. After making it round the first half, I decided to go for the full marathon to finish an epic week. I was amazed when I crossed the finish line and I burst into tears as I was greeted by the team who were there to support every single finisher. It was just a brilliant experience!

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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? 

Wow. How do you sum up the Uganda Marathon week? It was a jam-packed whirlwind introduction to Masaka. A week of meaningful activities, meeting inspiring people, being amazed every day and eating delicious food! My favourite memory is probably laughing with the children all day as we worked hard to plant the new fruits and vegetables in their school before finishing with a game of cricket!

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Emma at the end of the first lap – having enjoyed it so much – then decides to push on for the second to complete the full marathon!

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Emma’s clan, the Mbogo (Buffalo) Clan, with their medals in hand at the end of the week at the post-race party – with local team leaders, Carol and Joshua

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A big thank you to Emma for participating in this interview and also sharing her great photos with us! 🙂

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