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.
Mabel signed up for the event as she loves visiting new places and running, and even decided to run her first marathon with us in Uganda! Below she tells us about this, travelling to the event solo, connecting with her chosen project, the camaraderie of the race…and how she crossed the finish line as our fastest female international runner!
1. What made you sign up to the Uganda Marathon and was it what you expected?
I love to see new places and I love running. One of my friends told me about a marathon in Sierre Leone and I was immediately interested. I started looking and found the Uganda Marathon and although everyone thought I was mad, I signed up.
I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I have been to Africa before but never to Uganda (and never camped in Africa!) and I had never run a marathon before. But I absolutely loved the whole week.
2. Many of our participants signed up for the event with friends or with their partner. However, you joined us on the 7-Day Adventure solo. What was that like?
I was a bit nervous about travelling to Uganda on my own. But I couldn’t persuade anyone to come with me and I really wanted to do it.
When we got on the bus to Masaka [after landing in Uganda], I happened to be sat next to someone who knew a friend of mine so instantly we got chatting. Everyone was really friendly and there were lots of activities to get stuck into straight away. The evening we arrived, there was cooking classes and African dancing, and throughout the whole week we were constantly on the go. I met lots of people and everyone was friendly. Lots of people were also travelling alone or in small groups so it was easy to make lots of friends. I am still in contact with lots of them now.
3. Could you tell us about your experience with the Charity Project you chose to support?
The project that I was supporting was called ‘Classic Outfitters’. This was a project run by two guys called Emmanuel. They teach vulnerable children and youths who aren’t in school, for various reasons, how to sew to learn a vocational skill. Both Emma’s are so passionate about the project and have sacrificed a lot to support the children. They are working in a tiny workshop and selling the produce with the intention to become sustainable.
Our day at Classic Outfitters was my favourite day. The children told us some of their stories which really put into perspective what Classic Outfitters was doing. Then they taught us how they sew. I spent the day with three girls. It was amazing how much you can communicate with people who speak very little English. They were so good and quick at making bags, purses, bobbles, shirts and lots of other things. We laughed a lot at how bad I was and they kept having to go back and unpick it!
4. What was Race Day like, and running your first-ever marathon!?
Race day was great! We had to get up very early and get down to the start line. There was a long and very active warm-up which was great fun! The children from our project [Classic Outfitters] came down and danced with us in the warm-up.
The race itself was amazing! I ran all the way with Jani and John, two friends I had made during the week. We ran with children at various points (who were very quick!), we got cheered on through schools and villages and had to dodge boda bodas and bikes carrying all sorts at various points. The atmosphere was amazing! I loved running with Jani and John the whole way – we kept each other going and had so much fun!
…and what was it like to cross the finish line as our fastest female international runner!!?
It was amazing, but I also crossed the line with Jani and John at the same time and it was amazing to do it with them.
5. Finally, what was your favourite overall memory from the week?
This is a really hard question because I have so many but probably seeing the Classic Outfitters lot at mile 5 and mile 18 at the water station, and them cheering like crazy and giving me way too much water!
A big thank you to Mabel for participating in this interview! Also, thanks to Mabel and marathon team members for sharing these great photos with us!
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