Meet the Team
Race & Event Director
Race & Event Director
Uganda & Event Director
Well we've put off writing about ourselves long enough - this is the last bit of the website to be completed! Here's our story and the story of the #RiftMaz...
What Makes the #RiftMaz so different?
Some people may look at our website or social media and think: yeah yeah, just another international marathon. But having been involved in a few, we can assure you this is so different from the others.
Running the Rift Marathon is made with love. This isn't just another international marathon because we are not just another couple of race directors. This isn't just another trip to Africa because we want you to see the real side of Africa, the real people, the real food. That's what makes Running the Rift different.
By the time our runners join us in November, we know them all through email conversations. We meet them at the airport. We know the names and roles of every helper, marshal, chef, hotel manager, matatu driver and medic that is involved. We know the route inside out, we've designed the itinerary and trips, we've watched the medals being made. We've spent time with the KCDC kids and staff, we've obsessed over the layout of the booklets we hand out. We smile all the time - because we're having the time of our lives - and our runners better be too or we're not doing it right!
Why Fort Portal?
Ellie was out in Uganda helping to set up a different race out there. Paul came out to visit and together we ventured to Fort Portal in western Uganda because we'd heard it was fan-bloody-tastic. We went for a trek one day and that's when we saw, for the first time, the UNESCO Rwenzori Mountains (Mountains of the Moon) falling away into the Great Rift Valley. Neither of us had ever seen a view like it. The scale of it! That's the moment we fell in love with the place.
Why the Kyaninga Child Development Centre?
Later we went to Kyaninga Lodge to nose about and met Steve. Steve, or Michael Ball to some is the mastermind behind the lodge. Him and a team of 250 people from neighbouring villages spent four years building it. Steve likes a challenge. While chatting over a G&T we learnt about his not for profit organisation - the Kyaninga Child Development Centre (KCDC). The story behind the KCDC is pretty special in itself: Steve has lived in Uganda for years and years. He and his Ugandan wife Asha had their first baby, Sydney five years ago. Sydney was born with disabilities and neither Steve or Asha could find the help he needed in Uganda. So they flew to Steve's homeland - the UK. Not wanting to move there permanently they found Fiona, a physiotherapist, who travelled back to Fort Portal with them to provide Sydney with ongoing care. Now, when you meet Fiona you'll see she's a force to be reckoned with and together, her, Steve and Asha created the KCDC to offer therapy to other disabled Ugandan children. It's only been going for two years and it's growing by the day, helping hundreds of children and their families - help that just does not exist otherwise.
Making the Decision
Steve and Fiona are constantly fundraising to keep the KCDC going and that's where the RiftMaz comes in! So, over our G&Ts we all agreed to create a marathon finishing at Kyaninga Lodge to raise funds for the KCDC. Although one of the biggest decisions of our life, it was exceptionally easy to make: we knew about the organisation and loved it. We couldn't get enough of Uganda. And most of all, we couldn't stop thinking about that view of the Rift Valley and the total joy of running through Ugandan villages as locals cheer you on, run alongside you, hold your hand!
Making it happen
It took 18 months of hard work to make Running the Rift Marathon 2016 a reality - and a success. Everything was on a very tight budget (it's quite a motivator to save when you know the money you don't spend directly helps disable children!). That meant everything was done by us: from the marketing and itinerary, to driving the police around the course (it was a bit of a squash - see pic below), designing t-shirts and organising medics - and hundreds of jobs in between. Thankfully on race day we had lots and lots of helpers and the atmosphere was like nothing we've ever known.
Planning is going great guns for the 2017 event, being based in the UK we cannot wait to get back out to Uganda in October, ready for the race in November.
"We challenge adventure seekers to discover an untouched Africa and run the race of a lifetime. We have partnered with local businesses to bring six days of real Africa with the safety and support of experienced event organisers. Sharing our excitement for this undiscovered country and the utter joy of running in East Africa while supporting and raising funds for an incredible charity is our vision."
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