When we say Running the Rift is 'more than a marathon' we're not only referring to the other activities we plan as part of the trip, or how challenging the race is. We really mean the event means so much more than the personal effort of completing a tough race.
It means friendships, exploring an unspoilt part of the world, bringing responsible tourism to Uganda, meeting local people and running alongside them, helping a charity that does real good.
For Paul and I it's also helping people to discover a wonderful culture and a beautiful part of the world. And being responsible for people's lifelong happy memories!
We don't see the #RiftMaz ever becoming a huge, commercial event. The intimate nature of it, how well everybody gets to know each other and how well we manage to look after everybody, is something we hold very dear and won't be changing ever. And for that to continue, as we grow a little, we are aware we need to make the event more robust, for its own sake.
This year, because of the ol' liver transplant in January, I had to fight pretty hard to get my doctors - yes I have a team of them ;) I'm pretty fancy in the word of livers - to agree to me coming out for the 2017 event. This was an eye opener that it's probably time we got the Rift to the stage where we are a big part of it, but not crucial to it. I know this sounds obvious, but this project really is like a child to us, so letting go is hard! I imagine it's like the first day of school. And I'm the emotional wreck sobbing in the car.
How to keep the Rift right
Actually we didn't have to think about this too much, our runners told us exactly what to do - THANK YOU RUNNERS! The most consistent feedback from 2017 was:
1) More free time to chill out
2) More time at the amazing lodge
Improvements for 2018
The feedback, coupled with things we'd flagged ourselves, have led to some changes we're bloody delighted with...
Rather than using a mix of accommodation at the lodge and hotels in town, for 2018 we're taking over the lodge big-time and all our runners will be staying there together. We've got different sleeping options for different tastes and budget, and now everybody can make use of all the impressive facilities at the lodge and enjoy all their meals together too. And, us organisers, can concentrate all our efforts and time with you in one place, win win!
We've also changed up the itinerary a treat, with a few key activities going on and more freedom and independence to pick and choose what you want to do. We'll have a shuttle service going back and forth into Fort Portal town so you can hop on whenever you fancy, withdraw money, visit a local cafe and shop for souvenirs at leisure (the souvenirs in Uganda are brilliant - and just in time for Christmas!).
Our 2017 runners were also blown away by how much there was to do in this part of Uganda, so we've added in a couple more optional adventures (trekking with chimps and hiking in the mountains, as well as the safari). We're on the doorstep of the best place in Africa to see primates so it makes sense to say hi! The mountain trek we're especially excited about, as Paul and I have spent a huge amount of time in Fort Portal over the last three years, always staring wistfully at the mountains but never getting into them - so you've got our company for that adventure!
Changes to the Races
Finally we've mixed up race day itself...whaaaaaat!!! Don't worry, this change is a gooden! Read more in this blog post: The Great Rift 10k