Hundreds of participants turned up for the 5th edition of the Uganda Wildlife Marathon that took place on the 23rd February at the Uganda Museum. This year's marathon was aimed at raising funds to educate children of fallen rangers. This activity held annually is one of the activities that mark the commemoration of the United Nations World Wildlife Day to be held in Kisoro on 3rd March.
The Deputy Speaker of parliament Hon. Jacob Oulanya the chief runner flagged off the various races under categories of 5km, 10km, 21 and 42km. Several participants, including individuals, corporate institutions and schools turned up to run for the conservation cause.
While flagging off the runners, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Hon. Jacob Oulanya emphasized that the marathon was aimed at creating awareness about wildlife conservation. Flanked by the Ministers of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities; Col. Tom Butime, State minister Godfrey Kiwanda Suubi, UWA and Tourism officials and partners, Oulanyah promised to engage parliament to conserve wildlife. "Our flora and fauna are one of the best in the world and we should do whatever it takes to protect it. Parliament has a task to continue improvement of policies that favour the development of tourism in Uganda." He thanked Ugandans for being very passionate about wildlife and for joining hands to conserve.
The Minister for Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities Hon. Rtd. Col. Tom Butime congratulated participants for taking part in this year's marathon. He noted that the run was for a good cause and thanked individuals and companies for considering taking part in it. "The purpose of this marathon is to engage the nation in raising awareness about the importance of wildlife and generate resources to support the children of UWA servicemen who lost their lives in the line of duty to protect Uganda wildlife. Today we continue to celebrate the lives of these heroes who stake their lives to conserve our wildlife," he said. Col. Butime noted that Uganda is exceptionally endowed with abundance and diversity of wildlife resources. "Wildlife is a fundamental pillar for Uganda tourism development among other several ecological and environmental benefits we get from wildlife," he observed.
The Executive Director Uganda Wildlife Authority Sam Mwandha re-echoed the importance of the run as being critical in awareness creation of wildlife conservation and its protection by all stakeholders on top of giving hope to the children of the fallen rangers in line of duty. He noted that marathon is specifically a good avenue because it is a mass involvement team building sport and appreciated the support and commitment of partners to ensure it happens annually.
The early morning run began with a warmup session that enabled participants to get ready for their races and ended with another round of entertainment as a cool off. This was shortly proceeded by the awarding of the winners. Winners of the various races were heavily awarded, the best took home a cash prize of one million Uganda shilling, seven hundred and three hundred thousand respectively for the second and third winner.
Entertainment was part of the 2020 wildlife marathon as participants enjoyed great performances from several groups including renown Ugandan artists John Blaq and Spice Diana. The two artists pulled off great performances causing excitement with participants rising on their feet as they danced to their favourite songs. The electrifying performances by John Blaq and Spice Diana were coupled with cultural and school performances, and acrobats.
Mityana based Robert "Jajja" Lubega won the main men marathon (42KM) with a timing of 2 hours, 27 minutes and 24 microseconds ahead of Julius Kabagambe and David Solima.
In the women category, Jackeline Cheruto crossed the finishing line ahead of Hellen Chemutai and Adiri Nyakeso emerge the best.
UWA's Salim Kwemoi won the men's 21KM coming first ahead of Paul Korir, another UWA runner and Brian Adams Paul Ategeka of Uganda Athletics Fans Academy (UAFA).
Another UWA runner Annet Chesang crossed the finishing line fastest in the 21 KM run ahead of Shauline Chelengat and Police's Slyvia Chelengat.
Abu Mayanja ran 10 Km in 31 minutes and 22 seconds ahead of UAFA's Gonzaga "Kongo" Ssebuma who covered the same distance in 31:47.
UWA'S Dickson Kimwor was third.
UWA sponsored runner Eliot Siwa won the 5 KM men race. Siwa was faster than Mbuya's Farid Wambutwa and UPDF's Richard Amand. Prisca Chesang of Old Kampala SS was first in the women 5 KM race, beating namesake Ndiwa Chesang, Primary Seven pupil from the athletics Bukwo area. Mpigi's Grace Nassimbwa was third.
Winners in Corporates category
- Daniel Herera (Judiciary)
- Allan Maholo (Africa Wildlife Foundation)
- Florian Kintu (Uganda National Bureau of Standards – UNBS)