Sierra Leone Marathon 2014

The Lithuanians are running!

The next installment of the Lithuanian tale from runner Ben Harvey...


Vilnius 1_2


So the Running For Change team have completed their first official run on Saturday - the Vilnius half marathon. The team, represented on this day by Mindaugas, Tomas, Oleg & myself, wore the Kiln/Street Child t-shirts with pride. We wanted to raise as much awareness of our project as possible so we tactically spread ourselves throughout the field. This time we let Mindaugas cross the line first in 1 hour 34 mins, followed evenly spaced by Oleg, then Tomas, with myself coming in exactly 22 minutes later. As agreed.


Not really.


This was my first half marathon and according to my training plan it would be straightforward. Well, that's not the word that was foremost in my mind as I closed in on the finish. Having now run 21km in the 20 degree "heat" of Lithuania, the reality of the challenge that is running a full marathon in the oven of Sierra Leone has kicked in. About bloody time, my wife would say. But hang on, it's not about the run.


Ever since I started out on this adventure I've always said to anyone who would listen that this is about something bigger. My two dogs are sick of hearing about it on our walks. "Don't focus on the run", I'd say. It's just a run, not a race. A run in the sun. A fun run. 


Raising money - now there's the challenge. This is a new model for Lithuania. It takes some explaining. And some faith!


Runners & Support Team & BOXWe started collecting donations at the end of February, and, like my run on Saturday, got off to a flying start, followed by a steady jog, with a few wobbles and the occasional burst of unexpected speed. Unlike my run, we are still expecting a strong, sprint finish.

We've had to register our own charity. We've created our team identity - Running For Change. And we can boast our own logo, website & facebook group.


But the legacy we really want, is to have funded the construction of one and ideally two schools in Sierra Leone. Schools that were "Made in Lithuania".


We've got some way to go.


We've appeared on radio & TV, and have had regular photos or articles in the press. Having our own local celebrity, Leo, in the team - the kind of celebrity your grandma would like - is a big help. As is Rytis, our World Championship silver medalist in Karate, and bodyguard to the Lithuanian President.


All our effort is paying off as many people have heard or read about our project. It's new, it's different, it's interesting. I'm proud of what we have already achieved.

Next on the horizon is the Druskininkai (no, no spelling mistake) half marathon on 6 May. This time the full team will be running. We'll be staggering our finishes again.






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