Since returning to Rwanda in 2011, one of the highlights each year for me has been the Kigali International Peace Marathon. To be honest, I have only run the half, but given the altitude and hilly course, I consider this race an accomplishment for all runners – those running the 5K “Run for Fun”, marathoners, half-marathoners, and relay participants. It sounds silly, but everybody is a winner when they finish something like this in a place called “the land of a thousand hills.”
2013 marks the 9th annual race, which will be held on May 19th. This year, the organizers will introduce a new route in which marathoners will repeat the course twice, as opposed to four laps in previous years. Johnson Rukundo, the General Secretary of the Rwanda Athletics Federation, told me that the organizers set a target of 5,000 runners this year. Last year, over 47 countries were represented, and the Federation hopes to reach out regionally – and internationally – to an even greater extent this year.
The theme of the marathon this year is “Sport as a Pillar for Peace and Development.” The Kigali marathon began with the idea that sport could be a way of building peace after the events of 1994, and given the news from Boston this past week, there is a lot to reflect on in terms of racing as a peace-building activity. In my own experience, the camaraderie among runners is one of the reasons I keep coming out for more races.
According to Johnson Rukundo, the Federation likes to say “run for a reason.” There is a great deal of potential for this event to foster community participation and integration. The Athletics Federation uses the funds raised to sponsor widows, orphans, and those who were left behind in 1994. Every runner is running to support someone. Johnson says that “this year, we want to use funds to pay the tuition for one year of some athletes who are orphans but don’t have enough money for school fees.”
The Federation is planning a number of events leading up to race day, and is in the process of recruiting corporate and non-profit sponsors for the race. The Ministry of Sports and Culture, Bourbon Coffee, World Vision, the Soroptomist Society, Inyange Industries, SURFO Industries, and Adama International have so far stepped up to the plate. A mini “expo” will be held in a marathon village outside the stadium May 17th to 19th, as well as a concert prior to the race. Details on these events are forthcoming.
For more information, refer to any of the following websites and social networking sites or call Johnson Rukundo directly. Open up your wallet (real or virtual), take out Rwf 2,000 (Rwandans and residents) or Rwf 6,000 (everyone else) and sign up from today until May 17th. Since we are running for a cause, the race organisers have asked companies and organisations to sign up as groups of 30 and pay Frw 250,000 to really give their support. When you are registered, get your number and t-shirt from the Marathon Tent outside the national stadium closer to race day. Come and join the rest of us who are crazy enough to run these distances in the land of a thousand hills!
Now if only we could get a few more restaurants to offer up a nice post-race brunch… who’ll be up to that challenge?
All of the Details
Phone: For more information, call Johnson Rukundo, Secretary General of the Rwanda Athletics Federation, at 078 859 0136.
Facebook: Kigali International Peace Marathon
You can sign up by:
- Stopping by the Rwanda Athletics Federation Office at the National Stadium.
- Inquiring at your local Nakumatt Supermarket (Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda).
- Texting the federation with your name and the type of race you would like to run and paying using your mobile money account (MTN Mobile Money: 078 922 7303 / Tigo Cash: 072 294 0584 / Airtel: 073 058 8899)
Great to see that marathon running is becoming an important part of Rwandan culture.
We in the Third World development agency, Msaada.org, are also staging a marathon in Rwanda, in Rwamagana, each February. Next one will be 22 February 2014.
It would be great if you could help to spread the word of our event, which raises funds to provide in-calf dairy cows for widows and families who survived the genocide.
Marathon details on http://www.rwandamarathon.com