#LionsMarathon2017: Running Against Poor Vision.

Today, Thursday, October 12, 2017, is World Sight Day. Uganda’s national celebrations have been held in Gulu, Uganda.

In Uganda, the Lions Club International has been organising, involved in, and championing events which not only highlight the plight of victim of poor vision in Uganda, and the challenges they face, but which, and importantly, also provide hope for many.

Yesterday, Wednesday, October 11, 2017, the Lions Club of Kampala Central a press conference was held in Namuwongo, Kampala, Uganda at which it detailed a series of events including national eye camps and a marathon, all organised at seeking public partnerships and raising public awareness.

Dr. Grace Ssali, Mr. Lochode, Mr. Mugisha Lawrence, and Mr. Asiimwe Wilberforce.

The press conference was attended by Peter Livingstone Lochode, a.k.a Habari Gani, who was formerly a presenter with UBC ‘s radio.

Mr. Lochode is one of many victims of poor vision, but with the help of the proceeds from the efforts by the Lions Club of Kampala Central, he is a beacon of hope, a champion of hope for other victims, most of whom are unknown.

Poor vision is a major problem affecting people of all ages, like adults who need, for example, eye drops which cost UGX 80,000 each per day, and children who need cataracts to be able to see, and, in some instances, lifelong treatment for both.

In the following days, there will be regional eye camps targeting at least 100 people per camp per day. The first will be held at Kahoro Health Centre in Kabale, Uganda on October 28, 2017 and the second in Nwoya, Uganda, on November 25, 2017.

The highlight of them all will be the Fifth Annual Lions Marathon 2017 which is scheduled, and will take place in Kampala, Uganda, on Sunday, October 22, 2017 at Kololo Airstrip, starting from 6AM.

The Lions Marathon 2017 will host the 5KM, 10KM, and 21KM routes which will be run under the common theme: RUN FOR SIGHT.
Tickets for the Lions Marathon 2017 are available at UGX 20,000 for adults, and UGX 10,000 for students.
Events after the marathon include free eye screening and a general medical check-up for all.

Please email us at or text or call or Whatsapp +256776010990 for more details and inquiries.


#KigaliPeaceMarathon 2017: A Rewarding Finish!

The experience

Before, in between the start and the finish, and at the end of this year’s version of the Kigali International Peace Marathon, a couple of wonderful moments and memories were lived.

Ann, Flavia, Annet, and Mary, at the Genocide Memorial in Gisozi, Kigali, Rwanda. 1/2

Ann, Flavia, Annet, and Mary, at the Genocide Memorial in Gisozi, Kigali, Rwanda. 2/2







Importantly, an increment in the number of marathon tourists, those travelling to a marathon hosting city, was noted. We, as the Hikes And Runs East Africa community, grew from a figure of just two runners in 2016, to; 35 Tanzanians, 17 Ugandans, 7 Kenyans, 4 Congolese, 3 Rwandans and 1 Burundian whom we, as Hikes And Runs East Africa, either travelled with, or helped to register, or connected with on this same trip.

Timothy (Rwanda), Annet (Uganda), Omar (Burundi_, Franck (DRC), Jeff (Rwanda), and Felix (Kenya), in an inclusive moment after the marathon.

It was a joyous collection of enthusiastic runners who gave meaning to the International in the name of the marathon and illustrated the involving nature of the Kigali marathon. There were several kinds of new runners too, as some of them were either running their very first marathons or their first half marathons.
The tour of points of interest that we had, the moments we shared, and the people we interacted with while in Kigali helped us realise and savour the never ceasing beauty of Kigali, Rwanda.

The Marathon

The start took what seemed like rather quite a long while before we, the Half Marathoners, were flagged off, at 7:20AM C.A.T, by H.E Margaret Kenyatta, the first lady of the Republic of Kenya. She was to, later, cross paths with us as she, together with her host, H.E Janette Kagame, participated in completing the 7K that were the Run For Fun race. While at it, she, H.E Margaret Kenyatta, was, an invigorating spirit, one whose smile and wave – to me, on recognition of the Kenyan cap I was donning – were more effective than most of the day’s cheerleader’s efforts.

The two first ladies, H.E Kenyatta, and H.E Kagame, before they flagged the marathoners off.

The finish was, like with most marathons, a test in itself. The promise of crossing the finish line, as resulting from the sight of the Amahoro Stadium floodlights quickly turned into a false one for we had to run – for what, on now much heavier legs, felt like additional kilometres – through the Kisementi/Remera surburb, then towards another named Kimironko, before running around the Stadium to finish within the stadium from whose belly we had started.

The route

We never received a route map in what had been prepared for us as this year’s marathon kit for the Kigali International Peace Marathon 2017. That, eventually, did not matter. Those of us who have run Kigali before relied on past memory, while those of us who were doing it for the first time followed the flow.

Irrespective of whether they were new or otherwise, the infamous – for runners – Rwandan hills evidently took their toll on all runners. The marathon was tough enough to leave both classes of runners with either stitches, or strains, or collapsed on the route and in the need for urgent medical attention.

A Room For Improvement

The biggest room in the world, we are repeatedly told, is the one for improvement. We believe that the Kigali International Peace Marathon could, in the future, use some improvement.

We, for example, noticed that, just before we were flagged off, there was an unfathomable sense of disorganisation. There was, when some runners were trying to align themselves with the registration officers, no tent from where they could make their inquiries or be helped. Those who were helped somehow managed themselves to race cards originally prepared for other races.

Before we set off, there was confusion on which of the three collection points we were standing at was the assembly or the starting point or if one of the two banners was the finish line.

The starting time went beyond a 7AM we had anticipated, and resulted into us suffering under a scorching sun from the start till the end. With unprepared handlers at the first water point, which was at a point about 5K from the start, and no water at the penultimate water point, we were left to deal with our own hydration challenges which inevitably slowed us down. It was also rather intriguing that the 42K runners were set off after the 21K ones, even though that was the case in 2016 when they started at 8:15AM. The normal general rule of thumb, to say, of the 42K race starting before the 21K and any other is broken here.

Along the route, there were, apparently, no dedicated marathon marshals, no toilets, and no medical personnel. I chose to appreciate this handicap as a blessing in disguise for using well positioned mobile toilets would have meant that we lost much needed running time on our scorecards, that belief in medical personnel would make us go out in a quest for pampering, and that the additional numbers – to those availed by the organisers – given by the soldiers and policemen meant more protection for not only the two first ladies but us as well.

The finish was quite interesting as well. On the first moment of Kigali Marathon’s issuing of medals, some of us fought for ours, while others paid for theirs.

The thrill

We all agreed, when were done, connecting, and heading home, that the Kigali International Peace Marathon is indeed a tough thrill. Thankfully, one we will always be glad to participate in as the years go by.

Jeff, Omar, Dennis, Alexander, and Timothy, before their 21K race.

Certainly, I was not wrong when, in a 2016 Hikes And Runs East Africa blog post on the same, I described the Kigali International Peace Marathon as the most challenging marathon that I had ever done. Whether you were a gentle geriatric or a sprinting star, we all placed our right and left feet after the other, and repeated the drill till the finish.

Left Foot, Right Foot. Repeat!

It is always wonderful finding a cheerleader(s) along the route, like this lovely lady, especially when they encourage you to: “Touch Here For Power”.


#KabakaWange: Seven Severe Summits.

Kampala is renowned as the city of seven hills. This write-up is not about those hills – the bosozi bwe’mpala. This is about the seven severe summits that – good or otherwise – characterised the Kabaka’s Birthday Run 2017.


  1. The Culture

#KabakaWange was the second, and my first, Kabaka’s Birthday Run. The first happened when I was not anywhere near Kampala. I got to know about it after it had happened. My pals – Kenyans – and I thought about, waited, and prepared for the subsequent one; this one.


A not so good image of the Lubiri, on the race day.

One of the reasons for the love we had/have for the Kabaka’s Birthday Run was the love that he, the Kabaka, enjoyed/enjoys from his subjects. We wanted to experience what it felt like. So, we travelled, from Nairobi, Kigali, and Masaka for this year’s run.

For a run that begins and ends in the compound of his residence, one that is run on some roads named after past Kabakas like Mwanga, famous roads like Kabaka Anjagala road, the straight stretch which connects Lubiri and Bulange, one that is run past monumental Buganda Kingdom structures, like Kasubi Royal Tombs; one in which we run with the one of the royals, the marathon tourist and patron that is Prince Wassaja, and, importantly, sharing the same space with the Kabaka himself was/is exciting. It is not something that happens every other day.

  1. The Reason

Lately, my favourite running and jogging apparel has been Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon’s Run For A Reason shirt from the 2016’s marathon. Every step that I make should make sense as I move closer to the finish line. I was delighted to see Prince Wassaja, another marathon tourist running in the same Run For A Reason shirt.

Most of the “charity” driven events, marathons or otherwise, have not been targeted towards health-related concerns. Last year’s Kabaka Birthday Run was organised to help reduce the impact of fistula. This year’s run was organised to contribute to bettering the health of those affected by sickle cells anaemia.

It is, therefore, impressive that Kabaka’s Birthday Run was/is organised for a cause as worthy as running against sickle cell anemia.


The promotional image for #KabakaWange

Sickle cells has fundamentally affected several people, some of whom I call brothers, others sisters, others family, others friends, and several others unknown to me. I have, through studying with them, paying them visits on their sick beds, and chatting with them seen, known and experienced how they have been affected by sickle cells. Some have held on, others have, sadly, not.

My run and blog about this year’s Kabaka Birthday Run were/are both dedicated to Joel Benjamin Ntwatwa, a.k.a Nevender, a friend of mine who labours under the challenge of this terminal illness, one whom I have grown to call my brother. I pray for him and others like him every other day and hope that they get better. My love for him, and others like him, is timeless.


  1. The Newbies

Weekend before the Kabaka flagged us off, I was satisfied and excited that the people, some of whom I had unsuccessfully persuaded, for long, to participate in a marathon, due to reasons like “we cannot pay money to run”, had finally yielded to participate in this year’s Kabaka Birthday Run. Some of them ran, others did not, but, at least, they participated and contributed respectively. Their involvement is an illustration of the transcendence of a phenomenal summit in building a running culture. Thanks to the influence of the Kabaka, these newbies have participated in their first marathon, and are now interested in hitting the road for another run elsewhere.


Job, who was running his first marathon, Dennis, who traveled from Nairobi, and myself, after our races.











This was Raymond Lule’s first marathon.



  1. The Route

The routes, of 21K, 10K, and 4K were, at least, for the 21K that I ran, thrilling. We were properly guided by  chain of interested marshals, policemen, and army men who lined the route or made themselves visible at what would have been troubling, confusing points as the marathon had so many of those.


The map for the Kabaka’s Birthday Run, 2017.

We left the compound of the Lubiri – the Kabaka’s main residence – and turned, sharply, left onto Lubiri Ring Road, before using the straight stretch that is Kabaka Anjagala Road, after which we turned right onto A;bert Cook Road, Balintuma Road, Nabulagala Road, at whose end we made a sharp turn somewhere near the Kasubi Royal Tombs, by way of Masiro Road, after which we joined Namirembe and Makerere Hill Roads, got past Makerere University, into the Wandegeya area, and wound up at the Mulago Roundabout. It was on these roads that we competed the first five kilometers, the very tough first five kilometers of the run.

The most interesting (re: consuming) part of the marathon started from the Mulago Roundabout. Yusuf Lule Road seemed longer than usual. By the time we got to Garden City, those of us who had had enough took drastic decisions, like humping the backend of an ambulance, an ambulance which whenever it stopped, they approached its windows to ask for glucose. Ingenious! Then the turns began.


This to me, was, as a runner, the equivalent of doping, These folks should have stayed home.

We went through a couple of turns. The first turn was onto Nile Avenue, the second was onto Speke Road. After the Independence Monument, we joined Nakasero Road which took us uphill towards Akii Bua Road, after which we turned right, and then left onto Muwafu Road, further left onto Lourdel Road, and further onto Nakasero Hill Road, after which we turned, onto a longer stretch that was/is Lumumba Avenue.

The other turns were onto the The Square 1, Buganda Road and the other onto Kyagwe Road. The next turn was onto Rashid Khamis Road, Ginnery Road, Gaddafi Road, Matia Mulumba Road and the final road being Muwanga Road.

For the about ten kilometres that we ran on these hills and turns, we spent more energy than the usual, and that is partly because the ever-intense Kampala humidity was even more intense. Burning energy, or rather dehydrating is always expected. Hence it should be matched by an equivalent or close amount of hydration. Unfortunately, there were only three water points on the entire 21K route; they were at the 5K, somewhere like 10K, and roughly at 17K. Those were, like I keep saying, not enough. The standard, especially in a town with the humidity the levels of Kampala, should be a water point every after 3K. The average Rwenzori water bottles are way too big. Make disposable tumblers available and ask the marshals to pour the water into them. It either makes the water more available or multiplies the water points. It was disappointing that the officers at the last water point had “retired” from their duties when we got to them. They were not interested in handing over bottles of water or, in the interest of saving time, opening them. A new running mate, one who was doing their first marathon, and participated in the 10K said that when they got to the second and last of the water pints on their route, there was no water left.

  1. The Patronage

A security guard at one of the registration points told me that the reason kits ran out was because they were made by a one Kabushenga, the MD at Vision Group. I have heard his name being mentioned, for good and not-so-good reasons, during the preparations for some of the most notable events in the country – including heading the organising committee for the recent Pope’s, Pope Benedict’s, visit to Kampala, Uganda.

It is a wonderful thing that a name like his is involved in marathons, too. I know he is because I have run past him in the MTN Kampala Marathon 2016 and the Kabaka’s Birthday Run 2017 – in which he seemed to enjoy the attraction he drew from the captivated media houses and fellow runners who kept up with a pace he set for them.

However, his and other like-minded, influential, indulging people should be well aware that running is more that either just a social event, or a money-making enterprise; it is a culture, one upon which I/you/they can build a business. Their involvement should, absolutely, bring with it attention to detail and a concentration on standard, standards which can attract IAAF certification to/for Ugandan marathons.

We hope that they will remember to read, and, even more importantly, listen to these Hikes And Runs East Africa blogs, because we those who have been lucky enough to learn and take notes from the other marathons we have participated in, are well aware that we can definitely do better.


  1. The Services

I learnt, from a marathon tourist friend of mine who was visiting from Nairobi, Kenya, for his second Kabaka’s Birthday Run, that this year’s run was much better than last year’s.

However, we both agreed, as we have run several times together before, that we could do better. The literature, and map, about the marathon were not detailed/available up and until a few moments or hours before the marathon started. I did not understand how and why with all the efforts invested in publicising the run, there was not much done in respect to responding to our queries.


There was this.

  1. The Dis-Organisation

Besides the selling out, or rather running out of the marathon kits, and the conflict in the fees, the UGX 20,000 on the flyer, and the UGX 10,000 that was being paid, there was the most unfortunate one of them all; that of miscommunication between the orders giving authority, the orders sharing communicators, and the orders receiving enforcers.


Some of the kits.

Cheap/affordable marathons will always attract many people. Even better, a marathon or any event affiliated to the Kabaka, marathon or else, will ultimately result into massive enrolment. When the Kabaka calls, his subjects answer, and positively.

Thus, when a few people are catered to, and others not, especially in a set up without any known/highlighted deadlines, more than a few others are bound to be as inconvenienced and embarrassed as we were – details being spared. The Kabaka would not approve of such. I believe. Thanks to the running out of kits, some of us who travelled to Kampala just for the Kabaka’s Birthday Run, were bounced at the entrance into the Lubiri’s gates (we were labelled security threats) by minions, policemen, and army men who were, apparently, under strict instructions to keep us out.

Airtel, one of the organisers, is popular for, amongst others, their clientele focused products, like branded T-shirts. All they could have done was/is avail T-shirts labelled with an emblem of the Kingdom of Buganda, or with words to that effect, or printed out marathon related stickers which could have been stuck on any other piece of apparel that those who did not get kits came with. But, alas, when those who could get got, those who did not did not matter. A miscommunication between the arrangers and the enforcers was wholly responsible for barring runners who were there to run alone, a passion, an experience that surpasses the event some exploited to publicly get a handshake from the Kabaka.

Regardless, it was a thrilling experience, and we will return for the next. We hope it will proceed to be much than this years.


Alexander Twinokwesiga, on finishing his 21K race.




2017 Calendar Of Major Marathons In East Africa.


Alexander Twinokwesiga (Uganda), Claire Baker (England), and Felix Ombura (Kenya) after the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon 2016.


2016, in medals.








February 19, 2017 Rwanda Challenge Marathon Rwamagana Rwanda
February 26, 2017 Kilimanjaro Marathon Moshi Tanzania
March 26, 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala Uganda
April 15, 2017 Kayunga District Marathon Kayunga Uganda
May 13, 2017 Ngorongoro Charity Marathon Karatu Tanzania
May 21, 2017 International Peace Marathon of Kigali Kigali Rwanda
June 04, 2017 Uganda International Marathon Masaka Uganda
July 12, 2017 IAAF World U18 Championship Nairobi Kenya
June 24, 2017 Safaricom Marathon Lewa Wildlife Conservancy Kenya
June 25, 2017 Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon Moshi Tanzania
August 2017 Maasai Mara Marathon* Maasai Mara Kenya
September 2017 UAP Ndakaini Half Marathon* Thika Kenya
October 07, 2017 Kenya Wildlife Marathon Taita Hills Tsavo West National Park Kenya
October 29, 2017 15th Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon Nairobi Kenya
November 2017 Running The Rift Marathon* Kyaninga Lodge, Fort Portal Uganda
November 2017 14th MTN Kampala Marathon* Kampala Uganda
November 2017 Serengeti Marathon Serengeti National Park Tanzania
November 2017 3rd Kigali Half Marathon Kigali Rwanda


*Date to be confirmed


Kilimajaro Marathon, 2016.


Kampala, Marathon, 2016.


Nairobi Marathon, 2016.











If you know of, or organise a marathon that you would fancy we add onto the 2017 and future calendars, please do let us know.

Willing participants who opt to prepare for any of the hereby scheduled events through us are kindly requested to email us ( or WhatsApp us (+254714306507) or call us (+256776010990) at least two weeks before the event day so that we can proceed to help out with quoting for them convenient packages which include bookings for their residence while in the host town, registration for the marathon, preparation of their kits, a guided tour of the host town, and attending to any of their other or related inquiries.

Stay in the loop about news and exclusives by connecting with us on Twitter and Facebook by following @hikesandruns, our username.


The #MTNMarathon in Kampala, Uganda: We can do better!

The Genesis

Suddenly, no major city was complete without its own Marathon and a lot of minor cities got in on the act too. Inclusiveness was the watchword, as many cities tried using Marathons to boost their tourist industries. In a marked turn-around from pre-New York days (1979), women, as well as men, were welcome. – The Experts’s Guide To Marathon Training, Hugh Jones, 2003.

The Essence

The #MTNMarathon Kampala is, without a doubt, the highlight marathon and/or athletics event on the Ugandan calendar, at least in contemporary times. It attracts participants from all walks of life and from all corners of both the country and the world. It is an opportunity to bring people together, to participate in an event which they all believe – or are made to believe – will help contribute to making another person’s life much better. It was before the Kampala City Festival, and will hopefully be in the future.

As such, it is more than just important that we pay particular attention to every little attention that pertains to it. Here is probably why…


Some of the participants in Kampala’s #MTNMarathon.

The Calendar

Africa is postulated as a continent of holiday or vacation – thus, travel. East Africa, on the other hand, is as a region that gives birth to the world’s best runners. Be they popular or elite or otherwise, when they travel from one city to another, for the major marathons in the region, they are marathon tourists.

The marathons calendar for the region, which is Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Marathon every February, Rwanda’s Kigali Peace Marathon every May, Kenya’s Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon every October, and Uganda’s MTN Marathon Kampala every November. Irrespective of the host city, when they travel from one to the other, their expectations of each are as high as they ought to be.

The Region

It begs the question, is Kampala aware of what is happening elsewhere or, rather, does Kampala live up to the most basic expectations, especially after making a name as one of the most disorganised marathons in the region?

2015, for example, was such a mess that it is intriguing to imagine that I even found the time to write about it. Thankfully, I concurrently noted what I thought was wanting and what improvements I hoped we could make.

In that article, I highlighted and detailed thirteen pointers, those which I believed could help Uganda organise a better marathon. Have they been able to make any improvements?

The Improvements

The only way we can tell if there have been any improvements made, is if we juxtapose them against what transpired during the most previous year.

  1. Registration

Information on registration this year was as wanting, and where not, as confusing as last year. Even for a difference of UGX 2000, it was impressive that they enabled a Mobile Money payment system as an option available o the participants. However, it took inquiring from a couple of ICT geeks on how to make the most of it as that knowledge was not publicly available. It did not help that a service provider at the service station I went to did not help me save that UGX 2000, and made me pay the full fee, just like I had not used my Mobile Money function.

The limited number of registration points meant that the queues were long, even on the deadline day, which brought with it an expected rush.

  1. Literature

Literature detailed for the benefit of the participants is still as good as nonexistent. While registering for a team of visiting foreigners, I asked the lady who attended to me why the kit did not include at least a map of the routes. She responded that “they would tell us when we go to Kololo – the starting point.”

It took my own efforts, later, to search for and find the map, the assembly and start times on images that were left on Twitter.

  1. Kit

On receiving my kit, I was convinced that, with the benefit of hindsight, the best thing about it would be the squeeze bottle which came with what was the kit. It was smaller and chic, and rightly fit in my backpack. I hoped that it would not be. This year’s kit did not include anything significantly special from last year.


Felix Ombura (Kenya), Dennis Mugambi (Kenya), and Alexander Twinokwesiga (Uganda) before their 21K run.

  1. Races

2016 was different. It had only three races; the 10K, the 21K and the 42K. It did not have the Fun Run, or the 5K, or the Corporate Run. As a matter of course, I did not know what informed that decision, but when we ran, I thought that running past a panting CEO of the Vision Group, Mr. Kabushenga Robert, was not a bad idea, although he could have paid a lot more than the rest of us to run together with equally big spending corporate runners.

This year’s races had the same assembly times and the same start times. The text messages which were sent out on the eve of the marathon did not specify at what times which races would start. It was left to us to find out for ourselves where and when we would start. A phone call from a visitor, who said they were “up here”, to mean Upper Kololo Terrace, did not help direct us any better as we did not know where that is or was and as the directions there were, for an international or city marathon, being made in Luganda.

  1. The tracks/routes

Just like last year, this one had the same old obstructions of traffic including boda-bodas, cars, and non-runners along the route. To runners, it is burdensome to split your mind in an attempt to compete for space with such unnecessary obstructions.

  1. Toilets, water, first aid, and massage points.

That one big tent, which I only noticed when I walked further from the stage in order to find a quiet spot to make a call, could be “split” into several units along the route. If so, it would, for example, help that one runner.

  1. Volunteers

It was impressive of the organisers to place marshals at different, key points along the route. With the exception of those who simply sat by the roadside, or those who lost concentration at the Garden City roundabout, to the point that runners had to abuse one of them in order to remind her to do her job, they did really well. The addition of cones, and policemen along the way was a great, notable improvement from last year.

  1. The aftermath

As compared to the rest of the region, the Kampala marathon has been characterised as one people go to only if they are assured of access to a food and drinks availing tent after the marathon. I heard that before registration and after the marathon. That did not change. The music, the show, too, was as loud as ever before.


Dennis Mugambi (Kenya), Chrispus Mutabuuza (Uganda), Maggie Kembabazi (Uganda), Timothy Kariuki (Kenya), Felix Ombura (Kenya), and Alexander Twinokwesiga (Uganda) after their different races.

  1. Name

Even with the knowledge that the hash tag #MTNMarathon applies to other marathons in countries where MTN is present, the folks in Kampala have refused to change it something more specific, like my suggestion of Kampala Marathon, from last year. I still believe that it would not be a bad one to consider.

  1. Internationally recognised standards

I read a pre-marathon article, one which boasted that the 2016 #MTNMarathon Kampala was/is the first and only digitally timed marathon in Uganda. That is, sadly, true, but have we imagined how much better we could be.

When we started off, we did not run over a timing board. The only timing devices I noticed along the 21K route were the one atop a vehicle which was leading the 42K runners, and at the finish line. Whether they worked well or otherwise is not certain. I am certain that most did not pay attention to them.

As far as everyone can see, the #MTNMarathon Kampala is not yet an AIMs or an IAAF certified marathon. Like I opined last year, I still believe that we should get there, especially if we set our sights on attracting more marathon tourists. Until we do, our attempts at organising a marathon will remain a public demonstration of our incessant mediocrity.


Timothy Kariuki (Kenya) and Joy (Kenya) who traveled to Kampala to participate in their first Kampala #MTNMarathon, with Felix Ombura (Kenya), who was running his third, and Alexander Twinokwesiga (Uganda) who was running his first 21K race of the Kampala #MTNMarathion.

  1. Results and rewards

The organisers have not yet thought about medals for all 21K or 42K finishers. They might think that that is out of reach, but here is an idea within their reach; instead of handing out peakless caps before the marathon, they could design them in a close fitting way, add the word FINSIHER onto them and hand them over to whoever crosses the finish line. A different colour or print for each race – 10K, 21k, 42K – would not be that difficult to do either.

  1. Fees

It is never that easy to put a figure to a convenient registration fee, but I did talk to people who noted that some people are not willing to pay UGX 25,000 to run. That UGX 25,000 is still below my suggestion of UGX 30,000 or UGX 40,000. That is still a decision that they would need to make in the future.

  1. National Appeal

The #MTNMarathon Kampala is Uganda’s highlight marathon, one that happens once a year. However, it is marketed as a “RUN FOR KAMPALA” event. It is my fervent hope that they will, someday, find and make use of my suggestion to go national. Only then, would those who cannot make it to Kampala get an opportunity to participate. Rotary tried and successfully did it with their 2016 CANCER RUN, which took place on the same day and in different towns.

In 2016

  1. The service providers who attended to me when I registered were characteristically slow, disorganised, and unbothered.
  2. It is safe to assume that the route is not mapped. That assumption will occur to you especially when you approach the very last stretch, right after the Jinja Road roundabout and run towards Lugogo Mall.
  3. Whether they were riding after the leading 42K runners – somewhere outside Fang Fang Hotel or interrupting runners when crossing the roads – from Industrial Area into the Nakesero area, the bloody boda-boda bastards were an unnecessary obstruction all over the route.
  4. The role of KCCA is yet to be determined. What do they really do in contribution to the #MTNMarathon Kampala? They “own” the roads, and, thus, have the control and/or management over them, which should extend to closing them for the few hours that the marathon is happening. Using cones to create a smaller section of the road for the benefit of the runners, who use it in the same flow of traffic, has proven insufficient and ineffective.

In Conclusion

The organisers might not know, but it is bothering to be running while you are pissed off at things that could have been avoided if attention was paid to detail. As runners, especially those who travel to different laces to do so and invite others to Kampala to do the same, we have high expectations of the essentials that pertain to the actual running. When they are not catered to, we cannot be blamed for blacklisting that particular marathon. If the 2016 #MTNMarathon in Kampala is anything is anything to go by, we did it for the love of Kampala, and, importantly, to complete the region’s athletics calendar.

On the bright side, it was both challenging and thrilling. Of all the Kampala #MTNMarathons that I had done, this was my forst 21K. It was tough, but familiarity with the route, from the Lions Clubs Marathon earlier this year, made it easier to navigate. The improvement from the unfathomable disorganization of last year was noted and generally fair enough. It is my fervent hope that Hikes And Runs East Africa will encourage and enable more marathoners to visit and tun in Kampala in years to come.


After crossing the finish line in the last of eleven East African marathons in the year 2016.






Running The Rift Marathon: A Tough Lollipop


The undulating hills of Fort Portal.

The Call

Most of the news coming out of Uganda lately is that of strife and more of the same. When there is an opportunity to savour the best the Pearl of Africa has to offer, through a call to, for example, participate in a marathon happening in the depths of its most beautiful destinations – where the Rwenzori Mountains stand proud ahead of you, the Rift Valley opens wide and reaches for miles, eventually disappearing from view in a haze that melts into vast Lake Albert on a colour day – you respond, and positively so, irrespective of where you come from.

The Promise

For the visiting, foreign runners, who arrived n the host town of Fort Portal, a day before the November 5 race day, and their local colleagues, all a total of 200 and more runners, the first ever Running The Rift marathon was billed as a running malarky or a trail runner extraordinaire, and one that would absolutely delight them.

It, thankfully, did not disappoint. The three courses took the runners northwest of Fort Portal. We run through villages and trading centres, and enjoyed some of the most spectacular surrounding we could have possibly imagined.

Be In The Know

Even for an inaugural marathon, Running The Rift was quite organised. All the information that we could have needed, about the event and our stay while there, was well detailed on the both colourful and informatory Running The Rift dedicated website. When we found the organiser’s contacts, we were detailed on the particulars that we might have missed.

When race day started to dawn on us, we found ourselves at the race’s starting line, which was at the luxurious Kyaninga Lodge, a venue where we joined the overly expat and local runners. It was there that we were checked in and flagged off, at 7:30AM for the full marathon and 9AM for the half marathon for the challenge that beset us.

The Route

Before we set off, the route was described to us, over a megaphone, as to take the shape of a lollipop, one that would take us, the half marathon runners, about 6KM on what turned out to be an extremely muddy path, before turning right onto a much, much, better murram or laterite road, before leading us into a plethora of energy consuming hills, before taking us atop the spectacular Great Rift Valley, before getting us up and down a few other hills, before returning us to the stick of the said lollipop, and finally back to the finish line which was at the same spot that we had started.

We were concerned about a 9AM start, but for fears were, thankfully, allayed by an accommodating sky. It was conducive enough to, at least, get started. We were not sure about what our finishing would be like. All we did was pray that we could accomplish that before the sun came out.

Underfoot, we interacted with a route that took a while to leave an impression. Personally, I had to follow the lead of those before me by running as close as possible to the hedges or on the edges of the gardens just to keep the water and mud from soiling my shoes.

The steep slopes looked insurmountable and, indeed, they were, especially for those who would normally choose to avoid running up them. I did notice that most of the runners, either leading or following me, had chosen to instead walk them. You would be right to think that Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro, Lewa, Ndakaini, and Kigali are the tough marathons in East Africa, but Running The Rift will make your reconsider. Mark Rujumba, a running buddy of mine, who had travelled from Kampala, was to tweet a common sentiment, one to the effect that Running The Rift could have been the toughest marathon that he has ever run.


Mark Rujumba and I when we met at 1500 meters above level.

Having not seen this particular part of the Rift Valley before, I was motivated to keep running towards or into or into it. I thought I had seen it, whenever I caught the undulating hills of the inviting countryside, but I had not. I became sure when I found the ENJOY THE VIEW sign. Only then was I certain, so certain, that I decided to do as asked. Pictures and selfies were a must.








Running through the chilling clouds.


The People


Ms. McAuley, who was joined by some of the local children.

As if the beauty of the Rift Valley was not enough, the villagers did very well in matching it. From the cute cheering toddlers, some who run along some of us, to the encouraging bicycle and boda-boda riders along the route, to the strange braless mothers who handed out to some of us, to the grannies who participated by waving back to us, and to all those who came out of their dukas (shops) or houses just to see us run, I loved how they all helped to push our pulses. Indeed, it is true what they say; a place is only as good as the people you meet there.


The cute, cheering children.

The Finish, The Cheer, And The Crowd

The best thing about a marathon is, very often, that final step across the finish line. It felt like it had taken me a lot of effort to get to there. The resounding cheer as I approached the finish line was, therefore, pleasing. It could be compared to swimming in a pool of ice cream on a warm, sunny day.


Alexander Twinokwesiga, photographed by Eugene Kavuma, as he approached the finish line.

The cheering crowd was made up of mostly expats and locals, some of whom had not run, but, like the helpful marshals, keen doctors, and officers at the water points, we met on the route, were there to make sure that everything went as planned, or, simply, to cheer on and boost the morale of their friends or spouses.

Every finisher was awarded a finsher’s medal, irrespective of whether they took part in the 10K, 21K, or 42K runs. The most notable of them all being Brent Weigner, the old man with number 27, who, it was announced, has run in more than 100 marathons worldwide.

The Aftermath

It was not that easy to leave the venue as it had a lot to offer. There was a sumptuous post marathon BBQ, new connections to be made and opportunities to be crystallized, and crater trail to a nearby crater to be taken. The trail back uphill to the venue might have been steep, but while I finished with it, I was convinced that Running The Rift was both the toughest (since Ntare School, 2003) and most beautiful (since Uganda Marathon, 2016) run that I have ever done. I will see to it that I travel with more runners to the beautiful West-Ugandan town of Fort Portal for future Running The Rift marathons.


The after race BBQ.


Flashing the finisher’s medal, while on the Crater Trail.