After the enormous build up, how do we even begin to put in to words the excitement of today, as the 2016 Uganda Marathon was actually run!
The amazing marathon team has been working on this year's event for close to 12 month; since the inaugural race proved to be so successfully in June 2015. Closer to home though, Suubi Centre became involved late last year when we applied, along with 100's of other NGO's around Masaka, to be one of the projects that would receive a portion of money raised by the 2016 marathon. We were absolutely thrilled when we were one of only 11 lucky projects to be selected and marathon organisers agreed to have runners fundraise to purchasing 200 goats for the Suubi goat project. The income raised, from the sale of kids produced by these goats, will assist Suubi to cover staff wages and administration costs in the future.
Never to be ones to let others do all the hard work for them though, a group of dedicated Suubi staff, ladies and extended Suubi family were one of the first teams to sign up to run the race themselves. Today they joined more than 2000 other runners as they ran side by side over the 10, 21 and 42 kilometre courses. For each of these runners it must have been an absolute joy to pass the thousands of people cheering them on, all with huge smiles on their faces, but better still to know their efforts will continue to positively impact multiple organisations and communities for years to come.
Check out our Suubi team in action:
What an impressive sight, the Suubi team all decked out in their Uganda Marathon t-shirts.
Suubi Centre team members gathered on the starting line bright and early this morning,
along with more than 2000 other runners.
It was an amazing sight to see runners for as far as the eye could see, making their way up and down the hills surrounding Masaka Town.
While young runners, like Shamillah, are well used to running on such tracks,
many of the older runners found the course far more of a challenge, particularly the up hill sections!
Age was certainly no barrier though as Suubi's inspirational Madelana Nnakya proved when she completed the 10km run.
Just as it should have been, she arrived to a hero's welcome and was cheered to the finish line. Although we are not sure of her exact age, the number on her t-shirt would be very close!
Marathon organisers and international runners were quick to congratulate Madalena on her inspirational run, as she took a well earned rest.
Suubi Centre director, Ssemwogerere David, was justifiably enormously proud of his Mum, Madelana's efforts. She is definitely the one who passed on the determination to him that has enabled him to be the driving force behind Suubi Centre's success.
The entire Suubi marathon team put in a sensational effort today: Maria, Prisca, Noeline, Namirembe Sarah, Robert, Lydia, Shanitah, David, Hellen, Moses, Kisirinya, Leonard (friend from Kenya), Ssematiko, Shamillah and Biiru all matched Madelana's effort to successfully complete the 10 km course, while Paul, Peter, Simon, Emma and Ishmael tackled the 21 km course. An absolutely amazing achievement by EVERYONE! Well done!
As you can see, Emma was a very happy man after he finished the 21 km course and was certainly glad to take off his running shoes!
Youngest Suubi runners, Biiru, Shamila and Ssematiko were welcomed back from their big run and congratulated with a HUG from Mbabazi Hellen.
It was lovely to see the entire Suubi team back at Elite Backpackers after the event so they could celebrate their achievement together with a few drinks and a meal.
During last week, in the lead up the event, as many international runners arrived, they were divided in to groups and sent out to visit the 11 projects that they had all been working so hard to raise funds for. On Wednesday a group visited Lubanda Village to learn more about the many varied projects that are successfully being run by Suubi Centre.
The first stop for the group was Suubi Secondary and Vocational College where they were introduced to students and teachers.
Then it was on to Suubi Centre where they met the Suubi ladies and checked out the beautiful craft they produce.
Some of the team were very interested to hear how the Suubi coffee project is growing coffee seedlings that they sell to farmer and community members in the area.
A tour of Suubi Clinic also highlighted to the runners the many medical service that are now available to the communities surrounding Suubi.
The Suubi medical staff and ladies group were extremely happy to have the runners visit.
With the tour of Suubi Centre and the Clinic complete, the runners headed back to Suubi Secondary College for lunch and to check out the fabulous work now being done by the students, via their vocational studies. They were suitably impressed with the vocational training hall and the building, carpentry, metalwork, knitting, and tailoring pieces that the students had made.
Some of the runners and students inside the vocational training hall.
A big part of the international runners visiting the projects, as part of their marathon experience, was for them to be part of the 'Make A Difference Day.' For those who visited Suubi this meant working side by side with the Suubi students, staff and building team at the goat house for the afternoon. With the aim of marathon runners to fill it with 200 goats there were a few additions to the original house that needed to be completed before they arrive: feeding boxes and a separate area to keep the kids when they are first born. So with this in mind, everyone got straight to work.......
The students and marathon team arrived at the goat house and began by moving timber in to the necessary areas.
The students were happy to teach the runners the finer skills of using hand tools. No electric tools in sight here!
Inside the house they were guided by Suubi builder, Paul, as they partitioned off a section for the kids.
It was fabulous to see everyone working together to improve the goat house in readiness for all the extra goats that will soon arrive.
Check out the finished work - fabulous effort!
While outside, Suubi carpentry trainer, Ssekabira and students oversaw the building of the new feed boxes.
By the end of day the marathon team, Suubi students and staff certainly felt justifiably proud of what they had achieved together and were happy to have this group photo.
In fact the first group of runners who visited Suubi were so inspired by what they had seen that they went back to the campsite that night and told others that they should also check it out. Another 2 separate groups visited Suubi Centre on Thursday and Saturday. They also took the opportunity for a few drinks and great food at Elite Backpackers at the end of the day.
So as you can see, it has been truly special for Suubi's to be a part of this year's Uganda Marathon. Our enormous thanks goes to the Uganda Marathon organiser and we look forward to this relationship continuing to grow. We also say a huge thank you to the international runners and look forward to staying in touch with all the wonderful people who we met along the way or visited Suubi during the course of this fabulous event!