The Uganda Marathon
Everyone deserves the chance to make the best of themselves. The Uganda Marathon was founded with a vision to bring people from all over the world to Uganda. To build relationships with the wonderful people of a town called Masaka, and support them to help themselves – by running together to create massive, lasting change in a community.
Henry Blanchard was looking at the traditional model of charity challenges and adventures, and decided it all seemed too sterile. This frustration was transformed into action through his friendship with Moses – a Ugandan who had first-hand knowledge of the difficulties faced by his community. He knew just how much need, and disadvantage there was, and together, they decided to help him help his community.
Runners at the start line
We made not just a race, but a seven-day festival that would bring people from all over the world to Uganda. Not as tourists, but as friends. We wanted to create an experience that would place everyone as equals, working toward change together.
Starting in 2015, each year in May, visitors experience local life for a week, shoulder to shoulder with their new Ugandan peers and friends. Learning the challenges, and the hopes. Not ‘volunteering’, but immersing. And, most importantly, seeing exactly where their fundraising has gone, what it has achieved, and who it has supported and enabled.
The sponsorship model allows participants to choose exactly where their funds go, which specific projects and people to support, and then the opportunity to spend time with those exact people. To be able to walk into a school, and proudly be pointed out a desk, to find out that their fundraising had purchased that exact one. To run a race side by side with the young entrepreneur they’ve directly funded.
This idea of linking the fundraiser directly with the impact they have had, on such a granular, personal level, has created massive buy-in from all sides. The Uganda Marathon has helped people develop friendships, and created partnerships, breaking down stereotypes and ending aid dependency models. In broad numerical terms, the Marathon has an economic impact of over £2.1million in the Masaka region and beyond. 20+ jobs have been directly created, and many more indirectly.
A culture of running has also been created in Masaka – with the creation of the first runners’ club in the town – and this year, they launched the very first mixed ability race to take place in Uganda, in partnership with the regional disability association.
Over 20 projects are supported by the Marathon, and even when the funding for a specific project stops after the last milestone is reached, the team still visit, support and provide assistance and manpower where needed.
You can find out more at Uganda Marathon
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