THE BLOG

27
Aug

Finding The Perfect Sports Bra.

Sports bras are made to reduce movement. Breasts have no muscle, yet without proper support, the skin and Cooper’s ligaments (ligaments near the breast which give them their size and shape) can break down and cause sagging. Once your Cooper’s ligaments stretch out, they don’t bounce back” Holabird Sports.

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An illustration of a decent bra.

Growing up, there was a myth amongst girls that sports bras spoilt breasts, made them grow funny and even led to them losing their gravity (sag). Now as much as we want to believe these fallacies and myths, that is not true.

Sports bras help hold our breasts in place, and give them the desired support that is required when you participate in a sport. It doesn’t matter if you are into running or walking, a sports bra is a must have for all females who partake in these activities. The trick is in wearing the right fit (size) and making sure it is comfortable. Always get a bra that doesn’t put pressure on the shoulders or under arms. Make sure you can fully swing your arm around for you to feel comfortable. Jump up and down and jog in one place to find out if it is supportive. If it feels right, then you’re good to go.

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A race-back style sports bra.

Why am I saying this? Well here’s why, when you wear a small bra, the fact that you will move your arms makes it exert pressure on the shoulders which ends up being uncomfortable, plus it uncomfortably presses your breasts to your chest which ends up giving them a flat effect (and can have consequences if continually used). A large sports bra doesn’t support the breasts so they end up hanging loose while you run and this will force the Cooper’s ligaments to stretch out, hence make them sag.

Another important thing to note is that the bra is right for you. What this means is that you need to determine if it is supporting your breasts, or it is your breasts that are supporting the bra. Ladies, if the back of the bra is above your shoulder blades, then your breasts are supporting that bra, and you’re doing more harm than good by wearing it. A sports bra (or any bra at that) should always be below the shoulder blades so the bra can actually support and hold your breasts in place.

Cheers,

WinnieFred.

Note that the writer of this series is not a health expert but an athlete whose major concern is to help create awareness on the importance of using the right gear during sports activities.

 

25
Jul

Twegaite: An Important Run At The Source Of The Nile.

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The starting point.

The Twegaite Source Of The Nile Run Jinja, which happened on Saturday, July 23, 2016, had not appeared on my radar until Tuesday, July 19, 2016, when a now very enthusiastic travel buddy made mention of it. As a foreigner living in Uganda, the intense publicity that had been employed by Twegaite International Inc on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and a dedicated website to promote the event had, certainly, found and had an effect on him.

Thanks to him, we made a few phone calls to a few friends resident in Jinja, placed our reservations, and made our trip to Jinja late Friday night. Jinja is that lovely destination no one should ever consider declining an invitation to. We could not help it, but respond to her positively.

Until Twegaite, Saturdays have not been typical days for marathons, but since we want it more than many other things, including all-night parties, we could not resist the urge. A few sacrifices – of previously scheduled engagements and rushed packing of bags – later, we were in an already activated for the night town by the Source of the Nile.

As is expected of most runs in their nascent stages, there was bound to be some reasonable disorganisation. Ours started with a failure to find a place to take a much needed dinner at, and finding that a hotel we had booked to sleep in was filled well enough to our disadvantage. Finding a suitable alternative did not come that easily.

When the beautiful morning of a promising day came, a marathon that had been scheduled to set off at 7AM did not until at 8AM, and, most disheartening of all, the 21KM that we had registered for was reportedly done away with at the last minute. We understood an explanation to the effect that the presence of the guest of honour, who happened to be the Speaker of Parliament of Uganda, and a born of the region, was the reason for the delays, but we could not appreciate why we could not get to enjoy the beautiful Jinja, in all its glory, if the 21KM route and race was not done away with.

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Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, the chief runner.

The Twegaite Source of The Nile Run Jinja, organised by Twegaite International, a Washington DC entity of Busoga hailing Ugandans, and happening in its second edition (the first happened in Washington), got us running from a starting point at Laftaz Rugby Grounds – which, even for locals, had been problematic to identify – and onto Nile Crescent, a street adjacent to the Source of the Nile, Jinja Golf Course, Jinja Sailing Club, before getting us onto Oboja Road, through the core of town, where we used Clive and Scindia Roads and crisscrossed paths with participants of the 5KM run, onto a reconstructed Kampala Road, then onto Nalufenya Road, and finally onto Kiira Road, which led us past Coronation Park, and back to the finishing line.

10KM ended so fast; under an hour, even the average runners. As the slower ones gradually arrived, they joined the early finishers on the Laftaz field where they stretched out their worn out limbs, just like they had warmed them up before they were flagged off.

Thrilled by their involvement, new runners declared their newly found, real love for marathons and promised participation at the next one. I wished that those whom we met along the way equipped with questions about what distance we were doing were instead part of us, and that those I saw geared up for a rafting session had joined us and gone rafting thereafter.

Regrettably, there was not enough time to feast on all the beauty that Jinja has to offer; Owen Falls Dam, Bujagali Falls, Kalagala Forest Reserve, Itanda Falls, and its Forest Reserve, Hairy Lemon, The Haven, and, of course, Nile Breweries.

With just enough time to spare, a handful of us and made the most of it by taking a casual walk to, through, and by the Source of the Nile. The Source of the Nile is an area that marks the place from where the Nile starts its long journey to the Mediterranean Sea through central and Northern Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt. It was a wonderful way to simmer down. It was rather disappointing that we could not go bungee jumping as planned. The heavens limited us when they started pouring, long enough to make us miss the official bungee jumping times.

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A post race walk with friends, by the Source of the Nile.

Those who remained at the grounds, probably waiting for organised events that included an after-party that would see performances by local artists headlined by Irene Ntale, had an opportunity to listen to post race speeches, participate in post race exhibitions by Uganda Tourism Board, children’s activities like bouncing castles and more activities which had been organised for the purpose of sensitising people on how to accept albinism and help prevent the loss of albinos to skin cancer – the main reason why we had participated in the run.

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Some of the participants.

 

 

 

06
Jun

The Uganda International Marathon: A race like no other.

The Uganda International Marathon, also known as the Uganda Marathon, is, indeed, and like its apt slogan reads, a race like no other. In its information pack, released on its website, ugandamarathon.com, in January, 2016, it is described as an event, a race, and an adventure. That is what it really is.

The beginning.

The Uganda Marathon was created in 2014 by a group of Ugandans and Londoners in order to bring people from all over the world to a beautiful corner of rural Uganda, to spend a week with the local community, to get to know them, their dreams, challenges and really immersing in another way of life.

In its first edition, in 2015, it welcomed international participants from under 20 to over 70 years of age who took part in the event. People came from 6 continents. The fastest time was recorded by a Ugandan National Team runner, and the slowest by a former bartender from Plymouth. Over 50% of 2015’s runners had never run a marathon before, and chose their first to be on the Equator.

The essence.

The Uganda Marathon is not only a race, but a seven (7) days immersive cultural adventure on the Equator. It brings people from around the world to work with local projects, stage a sports day and a football tournament, take part in celebration of Ugandan culture, a festival, a party, performance, music, art, and, at the end of it all, a 10KM, half or full marathon. Well, as most locals would appreciate, that is savoured by people who give meaning to the word international.

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The real winners!

However, it is worth noting, that even when the international runners – at least 150 of them for 2016 – are very important, for their generous contributions, sourced from their families and friends back home, and amounting to “over USD 100,000 or maybe more”, and utilised to support at least 16 different projects in Masaka, the locals are not negligible.

The projects

Some of the projects the generous contributions made by the visiting runners have helped revive include some of the following;

Women’s Soroptimist Masaka, which supports vulnerable women in Masaka communities; Bugabira Primary School, which provides quality, affordable education that gives kids a boost in life that would otherwise be completely unreachable; STEP Masaka Project, which supports elderly persons; Youth With A Vision, which supports youth and advocates for rights of disadvantaged young people; Action For Integrated Community Development, which supports communities with disabilities and other vulnerable children; Suubi Centre, which empowers Lubada Community and neighbouring communities with skills for development; Masaka Vocational Rehabilitation Centre, which aims to assist mentally and physically handicapped youths to learn vocation skills for self-support; Knowledge For Children, which operates to invest in quality education for children in rural areas; and Masaka School For Special Needs Education, which supports all kinds of disabled students by, first, teaching them how to communicate.

The joy illustrated by the children the faces of some of the children and locals who made galleries along the route used could be interpreted as testament to the efforts of the Uganda Marathon.

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“Mzungu!”

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“Mzungu”

The choice of Masaka.

A Marathon can be organised anywhere. The choice of Masaka is, definitely, meant to keep in touch and/or connect with the projects, and to bring back to life and remind us of a town that seems to have been forgotten.

Masaka is an immensely beautiful town, one that I had, unfortunately, underestimated. It is representative of all the wonderful things that make Uganda the beautiful country that it is. The town is well planned, the people are as warm as we had experienced while discovering the town the evening before the race. Some of them may not have been actively engaged in the participation, but they, by standing on their verandas and along the route, supportive of those who were. The food is affordable and in abundance. The traffic is fluid. The town is organised and clean.

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There were steep hills…

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…deep valleys,

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…, and captivating views.

Having the above as a good foundation and a plethora of volunteers – from the Uganda Police, Exile Medics, and the Red Cross – at the places that we needed them to be, it was much better for us to participate without much to worry about.

Whether on the tarmac on the town centre, or on the dirt road, or on roads small enough to be footpaths running through schools, people’s homesteads and trading centres or the major roads cutting through the town, Masaka is a wonderful place to run in for all marathon distances. I have, for one, decided to do my first 42KM there.

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Running by the Camp Ndegeya roundabout.

 

Before the race.

When the visitors are not engaged in activities including rafting on the River Nile, trekking gorillas in Bwindi, going on a safari in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, a relaxing afternoon on Lake Nabugabo, or a cultural performance at their athletes village in Camp Ndegeya – like they did on Friday, June 3 – they are connecting with the projects that their money is going to – like they did on Wednesday, June 1 – or taking part in a sports day event with the children from the various communities that they are supporting.

Those are some of the activities that both the visitors and locals engage in before at least 2000 of them – an impressive figure as the 2016 edition is only the second edition – join in from Masaka itself and from as far as Jinja where news of the Marathon has reached. Personally, I had heard of it, and for the very first time, on the day that I did the Kigali International Marathon, just a fortnight ago.

My excitement was intense. I took it upon myself to inform all my fellow marathon tourists and marathon maniacs, some of whom I travelled with for this year’s edition. The runners are led by a chief runner, or rather a patron, the cheerful and likeable Prince Wasajja, a Prince in the mighty Buganda Kingdom, one where Masaka falls. I have been delighted to note his face in Marathons that he most definitely does not know we have taken part in together in Kampala and Nairobi.

The race.

Everything about this particular race was impressive. The information, when we stumbled upon it, was detailed and easy to interpret. When we found their functioning contacts, they responded positively and directed us well. When we arrived in Masaka, and found their offices, we were welcomed and well attended to.

The registration process, which we did in the Uganda Marathon office in Masaka town, was not in any way complex, but the attendants made sure that we were catered to. They did more by recommending places of residence and directing us to the starting point which was at the Liberation Square, and introducing us to other equally warm, receptive officers.

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The race kit, which includes a head sock made by one of the projects supported by the Uganda Marathon.

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Some of the pairs donated by the international runners to enable the locals participate in the Uganda Marathon.

After registration, we were furnished with a race shirt, a race number, and a map of the route. While in the shop, we also bought some of the merchandise as made by the beneficiaries of the projects supported by the Uganda Marathon. Contended, we found residence in a hotel next to the starting point, checked in and went on a discovery of the town, and a grasshopper munching evening, especially for the uninitiated. Our excitement was reciprocated by a deserved expectation of us.

The race was a well organised and coordinated one. Well organised, for emphasis’ sake. As we had been told, that the organisers are Britons who are very English about their time, we started, and just like we should have, at the scheduled time of 7AM, with the 42KM and 21KM races, and at 8AM for our 10KM colleagues.

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Liberation Square: The starting and finishing point.

The route started at Liberation Square, in the Kizungu area of Masaka town, took us past Katwe Hospital, through Ssaza, via Camp Ndegeya, Pine Ridge and ended up at the same Square. There were steep hills, some of up to 1327 meters above sea level, plateaus with enviable views, and deep valleys. The views we enjoyed while we ran were incomparable to many anywhere.

The finish.

By the time that you are done with experiencing a town on the Equator, with investing hours of solid effort – one dusty foot after another, to round the home stretch, to get closer to the finish line, to muster up one last monumental effort, with going through wild, smiling and laughing crowds, crowds that do not get tired of cheering you on, with making new friends, and more, you are satisfied with not only the enriching experience of travelling from across the world to participate in the Uganda International Marathon, but acceptance of the truth in the fact that running in East Africa is like playing football at Wembley, cricket at Lords, or Quidditch at Hogwarts.

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The Uganda Marathon was held on the Equator. It was right that we head there thereafter.

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The Earth’s Equator.

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The finishing smile.

30
May

Afrika Mashariki Marathon: Enduring Kampala.

“In the beginning – or in at least 490 BC – there was Marathon. Then there was a Persian-Greek War, then there was a messenger sent on a myth-making mission to the Greek capital. The basis was laid for what, years later, became the beginnings of ‘The Marathon’ – not that sleepy seabed settlement on an inlet of the Aegean but a groundbreaking feat of endurance which issues a challenge to people all over the world.”

Kampala too presents a unique range of challenges, challenges which must be endured. Kampala is a mess. When it wakes up, everything is everywhere. Boda-bodas, vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, hawkers, shopkeepers, street children, mad men, politicians, churchgoers and more are people or things that you would not fancy waking up, especially if you are a runner with a task at hand. They, those people or things, are quite competitive, as they go for the same space as the runners. They are so competitive that they will go for the last of the left spaces, including those that you had not anticipated. For any runner, this creates an undesired dilemma. They are distracted, and immensely so, and deprived of just enough space to do what they love.

Intriguingly, it is the same mess; this very disorganisation that makes that makes Kampala what it is, that gives it its beauty. For the runners, elite or otherwise, it is an opportunity to embrace it as it is while they go about what they love. There can be few more impressive sights and engagements in the running world than these that make Kampala.

The Afrika Mashariki Marathon, or to translate, The East African Marathon, was organised as part of the several activities which were prepared to celebrate the Afrika Mashariki Festival, which, in 2016, was running in its second edition. This affair, between the Afrika Mashariki Marathon and Kampala commenced at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds, an easy-to-access venue in the centre of town and ended at the same place.

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The starting, and finishing point.

The start was not the very best – at least for me. From the starting point, through Upper Kololo Terrace, Lugogo By-pass, and up to Bukoto, the unfathomable Kampala humidity was taking its effect on a body that had not rested well enough from the effects of the just concluded Kigali Marathon. From there – Bukoto – onwards, it was as smooth as it could possibly be. With a handful of Bible holding pedestrians, and a few taxis on the road, the town was yet to wake up. It made the race enjoyable for the entire stretch that took us through Ntinda, Kisasi, before getting us onto the Northern Bypass, into parts of Kyebando, and up to Kalerwe.

Shortly before we approached Ntinda, a new friend of mine, Denis Mutambi, a Kenyan living in Uganda ran up to, and, later, with me. He informed me that he recognised me by the Ruto – a Kenya national emblem and national colours cap – on my head and my Uganda national flag on my back. He said he was happy for my making of his day as he did not expect anyone who had been in Kigali, where he had seen me, to be running in Kampala. I was immensely delighted to connect with him.

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New friends: Denis Mutambi, and I.

An interaction with him highlighted the numerous challenges which beset us as runners. First, the mapping! As it happened, we were provided with a map of the race route upon registration. That was impressive. However, while running, a runner’s concentration is on just that, and not on memorising maps. It would have been more than helpful if the roads had been divided or the smallest parts of them demarcated for the event. At the very least, drawn directing arrows on manila papers which would be displayed at the most confusing locations or turning points, as they were many, would have done it. The traffic cops, whom we had been promised would be of assistance were, sadly, not. We had to lose time in stopping to inquire from them on how and where to proceed.

The Northern Bypass was, in being flat, promising and, with pockets of pilgrims to the Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo, engaging. The only and major problem with it was the traffic. If you were not rubbing shoulders with a boda-boda, then you were excusing pedestrians unnecessarily halting on their and your way to hold conversations, or running away, farther from the road, to avoid being hit by a speeding heavy duty truck, or jumping over barriers left by a Chinese road construction company. That was bearable, until Kalerwe.

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  Runners, boda-bodas, and vehicles on the Northen Bypass. 

 

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Some of the pilgrims to Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo.

The first sight of fruits or sign of them and anything that could belong to a market was mangoes, which were being sold along the by-pass. With the water points far apart, one could be tempted to grab a few while in motion. The market in Kalerwe was the worst distraction. To summarise, it felt like a net. It was a hive of activity that held us back. It contributed to our losing of time.

Mulago, Wandegeya, and Nakasero were bearable, and, save for the hike up Nakasero hill, good parts to run in. That was all right until we, and all traffic, were stopped by traffic cops, police men, and military men. For what? We certainly did not know. We were later to learn that there was a presidential convoy leaving the Sheraton Hotel. For it to leave, we had to wait for fifteen minutes. For us to move, we had to wait for a command from of one of the arrogant, whip welding military officers.

The route from the roundabout at Ternan Avenue to Garden City had so many turns that it confused and lost several people, like that expatriate who with a race number on his chest and a mobile phone in his hand, looked like he had had enough of the race and decided to walk into the Imperial Royale Hotel for a much needed breakfast. He said he would follow my lead.

The finishing went well, thanks to the help of two kind gentlemen in the City Ambulance. Lost, I would walk to them to ask for directions. Thinking that I needed water, they would offer me drinking water. They either drove behind me, or I ran behind them. The sight of their vehicle from either position was a reassurance of being on the right track.

For what they had lacked in keeping time – starting thirty minutes after the scheduled starting time – and not attempting to guide us better – we had lost our sense of direction from the very start – they made up in taking care of us after the race. The medical teams from Aga Khan University Hospital and elsewhere after the finishing line helped massage us and develop all our medical and body records as we listened to speeches made by doctors who told us about our need to contribute, like we did, to bettering of people’s sight and leaders from the East African Legislative Assembly who promised us an enriching community.

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My sisters, Annet and Angel, after our respective races.

 

 

28
May

Kigali Marathon: Go do it on the hills!

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Runners, with a view of Kigali.

I had been to Kigali, Rwanda before; firstly, to take it off my bucket list, of destinations worth visiting; secondly, to attend Stromae’s concert, one of the, if not, the best concerts I have ever attended, and now, for the Kigali International Peace Marathon, the most challenging marathon that I have ever done.

I had waited a whole year to do the Kigali Marathon, after having missed the last one due to a dearth of knowledge about it. It was, therefore, in my best interests that I either suspended or sacrificed my activities in Kampala, Uganda and travel to Kigali, Rwanda.

Arriving a few days before race day, I made the most of my time completing pitching a couple of my entrepreneurial engagements, walking the beautiful city, and catching up with old friends, activities which lasted all day and ran into the night, some past midnight. For a moment, I was worried that I would drain myself of all energies, which I would need to for the race.

That race, or the day meant for it, arrived on Sunday, May 22, 2016. The roads were closed even before we – Felix Ombura, a friend of mine visiting from Nairobi, Kenya – had left the house of our host, Timothy Kaboya, a Rwandan colleague and an old friend of mine.

Accessing Amahoro National Stadium was either going to be difficult or expensive, especially if we managed to do it, or get anywhere close to it, like Remera or Kisimenti, by a moto. Even the moto rides we used were undecided on which routes to use. We were joined at the back of a service truck by a team of Japanese ladies with whom we made it into the compound of the Stade Amahoro. We did it on pretty much half of the race route, and, luckily, arrived on time.

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Our ride into Amahoro National Stadium.

The start line, for the half marathon, as I was later to find out when I ran up the staircase of one of the stadium’s exit points, was inside, on the race track. On it, were hundreds of eager runners who were anxiously waiting for the sound of the starting gun! We joined in, and followed the elite athletes as the gun went off.

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Just after the starting gun went off.

The race took us five kilometres outside the stadium and down one of the thousand hills. The most notable icon that I recall on that early part of the race was the MTN Rwanda headquarters, the main sponsors of the event.

From a little thereafter, at a junction with Woodlands Supermarket, which I now know is in an upscale neighbourhood known as Nyarutarama, it was hills, hills, and more of the same. We were hiking, but at a fast rate. We went further up, and round, turning left, to run through what were, or rather are, apparently, private neighbourhoods. Thankfully, we were on first grade tarmac, which, I believe, was meant to serve as both a consolation and motivation.

Being Ugandan, and one who always runs with my small national flag pinned at my back, I took note of the gated residence of the Ugandan High Commissioner. It and its neighbourhood have enviable views of the city. There were, also, two ladies wearing promotional shirts for the forthcoming Uganda Marathon. I run part of the route with a gentleman donning a similar shirt. Not to be forgotten was a big banana which glided by me as we approached Kacyiru.

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The ladies, in their Uganda Marathon promotional shirts.

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The human banana, on the left, going up one of the hills.

Somewhere between Nyarutarama and Kacyiru, somewhat at the 15KM mark, the elite athletes, who had started taking part i the 42KM race at 8:15AM, an hour and a quarter after we had begun, ran past me, in all their glory, between a police patrol car, and a media crew. The handful of people who created a gallery along the route cheered them on.

Kacyiru was another test. After making a turn on Boulevard de l’umuganda, and specifically, somewhere opposite Telecom House, everything else, in the form of running, was more of running up a hill or two. Well, up to Remera, the nearest town to Amahoro National stadium, where the finish line would be awaiting me and all the other people who had, after an hour and forty five minutes since the start, not yet made it.

The finish line was not going to be an easy one to get to. Like in all other marathons, we could see it, well, mentally, because we were certain that it was in the midst of the floodlights, which we had in sight, but we could not get to it. We took a longer route, one that took us around the stadium, and into the neighbourhood of Kimirinko, before we turned, as if we were heading into Remera, and finally into the stadium.

Entering the stadium was not enough either, we did about three-quarters of a lap, before crossing an uncrowned line which had double as both a starting and a finishing. My playlist must have had an idea about how thrilling the Kigali International Peace Marathon was when it chose AKA’s Congratulate as I crossed the finishing line.

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The Kenyan delegation.

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The Ugandan delegation.