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.
Rosie and Jess were our highest fundraisers for the 2019 Uganda Marathon, raising an incredible £27,000 for the charity, HvSMF. Below they chat to us about choosing this charity, fundraising, race day, and meeting the community at a Charity Projects on ‘Legacy Day’.
Plus, they share some of their favourite parts of the trip, which they describe as: “amazing from start to finish“.
1. What made you both sign up to the Uganda Marathon and was it what you expected?
To be honest we signed up not realising how it would snowball into being one of the best experiences of our lives. We have both done a marathon before, (London and Stockholm) but we wanted to throw ourselves into a marathon in a country we had never been to before. We also wanted to experience a marathon with the extra challenges of the terrain, heat and humidity.
Was it what we expected? Yes and more! It exceeded every single, absolutely everything, we could have possibly imagined! It was one of the most rewarding and life-changing weeks – we could not recommend it more.
2. You fundraised a fantastic amount for The Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund (HvSMF). Could you tell us why you chose this charity and how you went about fundraising?
We chose this charity because we know the Van Straubenzee family and thought the Ugandan Marathon would be a great way to try and raise £30,000 – we knew how much the donations raised would be valued and are needed throughout Uganda. We were lucky enough to see first-hand where the money is going which was incredible to see. We had a great time fundraising the few months before the marathon itself by both asking (ie. pestering!) many family, friends and colleagues, but also by holding a silent auction.
We are very fortunate that through our work we were able to host an evening at an exclusive address in London and a very kind Art expert put forward 16 Limited Edition pieces of Art at ‘cost price’ to bid on, including pieces by Salvador Dali and Damien Hirst. We had 100 people who attended, and they knew that anything they bid over the cost price would go straight to the charity. It was a highly exciting and successful evening which everyone thoroughly enjoyed.
3. Could you tell us about your experience on Legacy Day when you visited a Charity Project?
This turned out to be one of our favourite memories of the Ugandan Marathon week; we spent the day with Classic Outfitters which was highly rewarding, not only by seeing the skills the children are learning and developing but also seeing the impact it is having on their lives along with the community of Masaka. They are learning how to be tailors which will be a lifelong skill and will hopefully mean they can secure their future outside of traditional education, which can be hard for many individuals to access. It was great to spend the day with them and also amazing to see them support us on the race day – cheering us whilst we ran the marathon!
There were other projects we would have loved to have seen and got to experience. We heard so many great stories from all of the other runners. Whichever legacy day you pick will be eye-opening, rewarding, and most of all, FUN!
4. What was Race Day like? Could you tell us about your experience of running the marathon?
Race day was one of the most exhilarating, challenging, exciting and memorable days. It was an early start to head over to the start line which has such a fun and energetic atmosphere.
The race itself was multifaceted; beautiful/ fun/ tough/ steep/ hot/ draining and satisfying all mixed into one. The support from the other runners, the organisers, the medics and the local community along the route was incredible.
Crossing the finish line was one of the best feelings ever and we will never forget the euphoria and sense of pride we had crossing the finish line together, holding hands. The after-party that evening was brilliant and a great way to celebrate with all the other runners and the organisers we had met over the seven days, and round off the most fabulous week.
5. Finally, for you both, what was your favourite memory from the trip, and how would you sum up the 7-Day Adventure for someone who hasn’t been?
The whole week was incredibly well organised and amazing from start to finish – every single aspect was better than we thought it would be; the other runners, the race, the legacy day, the people, the organisers, Masaka and Uganda itself – it is somewhere we will definitely revisit.
After the marathon, we went on to Bwindi National Park and saw the gorillas which was unbelievable and something you have to do – completely worth it and it was a great way to see a completely different side of Uganda.
The whole week went by in a flash and we are still talking about it nonstop as the memories are just amazing – too many to single out! The ‘race’ is not about your time, or competing against anyone else. We were initially quite anxious about how professional the other runners might be or if we would be able to run the whole way. You can walk the whole way and feel like you have won the race – because you will have been cheered on by Masaka for 26.2 miles, and then have thousands of smiles greeting you at the finish line, as you know that you have contributed in even a small way to their hometown, and this is something that will stay with you, forever.
To sum up the week in a sentence: a spine-tingling awesome experience that makes you stop, and think, and want to do it all over again.
A big thank you to Rosie & Jess for participating in this interview! Also, thanks to Glass Passport Project, Rosie & Jess, and marathon team members for sharing these great photos with us!