What to bring, health tips, being in Sierra Leone
There are regular flights to Freetown, Sierra Leone from mainland Europe. We will advise on recommended flights as part of your marathon preparations. As part of the marathon package, we will pick you up from the airport in Sierra Leone and transport you to marathon HQ. Please be aware that we can only organise transfers for flights arriving during daylight hours (including early evening).
What to bring.
Race day kit.
•Running vest or t-shirt
•Running shoes (trail shoes not necessary) and socks
•Hydration pack/water bottle
•Sun hat with rear nylon cloth attachment (a back-flap!) to prevent sunstroke/sunburn.
•Gels, electrolytes & snacks as preferred
•Lightweight and loose (linen is king!). T-shirt and shorts for the day, longer sleeves and loose trousers for the evening to prevent mosquito bites!
•Women will need to cover their legs up to knees (except on race day).
•Swimsuit for beach or pool (at Premium accommodation)
•Sunglasses & sun hat
Toiletries and first aid.
•Anti-bacterial hand soap
•High strength mosquito repellent (50% deet)
•High SPF Sun cream
•Basic first aid kit (plasters, anti-septic, paracetamol etc.)
•Imodium (or similar)
Sierra Leone - food, money and climate
Sierra Leone has a tropical climate, warm temperatures and high humidity. The end of May is on the cusp of the dry season moving into the rainy season so it is very hot and humid. Waterproof jackets or umbrellas are advised but you won’t be cold, just wet if it does rain. Sun cream is essential as you will be outside a lot.
Basic food will be provided for all runners within the 5 day traveller’s package. We will make an effort to ensure food provided before the event is as non-spicy/familiar as possible! It is likely to be based heavily around staple carbohydrates such as pasta and rice. If you have any allergies or dietary requirements please inform the SLM Team. We strongly recommend that you bring your own pre-race breakfast to ensure that you are used to the food. You can get fresh milk in the minimart in Makeni but it will not be available at your hotel.
After the event you may wish to be more adventurous with your eating so we will be providing a post-race BBQ. Note that you may well have an unsettled stomach at some point during your stay. Using hand sanitiser before eating will help reduce your chances of an upset tummy however we highly recommend that you bring rehydration salts with you.
You will need to bring cash for the duration of your stay in Sierra Leone. Credit card use in Sierra Leone is virtually non-existent so it’s only worth bringing your card strictly as a back up. Instead, bring cash in either pounds or dollars to change once you arrive. Big denominations of cash get better rates but avoid pre-1996 series dollars as many businesses and some banks reject them. Pounds are easily changed, dollars even more so (but not so much so that it is worth changing pounds into dollars).
You will be able to change your money on the first evening that you arrive at the Clubhouse.
If you wish to buy food or drink outside of what is provided as part of your travel package, we have written some guide prices for you below:
•Soft drinks - 70p
•Local beers - £1
•Imported beers - £2
•You can buy good local food for around £3 a plate.
•International food usually costs around £5 a plate.
In addition to this, short taxi rides along fixed routes cost around 20p and it costs around £3 to charter a taxi across town. There are souvenirs to buy such as elegant woodcarvings, wooden & beaded jewellery, and some excellent materials and tailoring.
If you are staying on at the beach you will need to bring enough cash to pay for lunch and dinner (except night 1 when we will organise a BBQ on us)!
Health- before and during the trip
It is your responsibility to ensure you have received all necessary medical advice before you travel to Sierra Leone. You are advised to see either your local GP or a travel nurse prior to travel. Unless you have recently travelled to a similar destination it is almost certain you will need a few injections.
West Africa has one of the most virulent strains of malaria (falciparum), which can be protected against using standard anti-malarials. You must take anti-malarial medication throughout your stay in Sierra Leone, as per the prescription. We advise you to take your own mosquito net, insect repellent with 50% deet, and long-sleeved clothing for the evenings.
Yellow fever vaccination is a requirement for entering the country and you must bring the certificate with you. Failure to produce a valid yellow fever certificate at the airport will result in refusal of entry to Sierra Leone.
Please note that we understand post-exposure immunoglobulin for treatment of rabies is only available in Dakar or Accra, not in Sierra Leone. You may therefore wish to discuss vaccination against rabies with your GP/travel clinic.
As a condition of entrance to the event, all runners take responsibility for having trained appropriately and had any health concerns checked by a medical practitioner.
Please visit: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/sierra-leone.htm for more information.
In Sierra Leone
•With over 100 runners travelling and eating together everyday hygiene is a key issue. To prevent upset stomachs ensure you’re washing your hands as regularly as possible and use antibacterial hand wash.
•Don’t be shy: notify a trip medic or a member of staff as soon as you start to feel ill.
•Pack ample supplies of both rehydration salts and Immodium (or equivalent). You will sweat a lot and need to replenish your salt levels!
GETTING SICK OR INJURED:
We have a team of UK medics to support all runners when in Sierra Leone. They are hugely experienced race and expedition medics and will be on hand 24/7 for the whole trip, not just race day.
There will be evening clinics at the Clubhouse where you can speak to the medical team confidentially about any medical issues.
We will do our utmost to assist runners and visitors particularly during the race itself, but in the end your safety is your responsibility. Be vigilant, sensible and take appropriate precautions. The vast majority of travellers to Sierra Leone enjoy a trip free of incident. Make sure you do everything you can to ensure that your trip is the same.
It is very important that you recognise your part in ensuring your own safety during the entirety of your time in Sierra Leone. Do not take unnecessary risks. In particular:
Do not walk around at night. We don’t allow runners to walk alone at night for safety reasons and we can’t be held liable if your phone or valuables get stolen if you chose to do so.
Don’t do anything or go anywhere you are uncomfortable with however much inconvenience it causes to others. If you are unsure about anything, ask. Do not feel like any request is too much especially when it pertains to safety.
Your safety depends on your decisions. Even if you have asked someone’s advice, do not blindly follow it if you feel uncomfortable – evaluate your situation independently and decide what you think is right.
If you don’t like a driver’s driving, say so (politely is best!) – don’t grin and bear it. If necessary, ask the driver to stop so you can get out and take another vehicle (this is particularly pertinent to those travelling independently of the Travel Package).
Be careful about displays of wealth – Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world and it is unwise to display your wealth openly, especially in Freetown. Cameras and mobile phones are just as big a target as cash, so look after these as well as you look after your cash.
Travel in groups where possible. Look after one another and stick together. You will have more fun and reduce the risk of incident.
Consider registering on LOCATE, the free online Foreign Office service, which helps them find you in case of emergency in Sierra Leone.
If you wish to carry your mobile phone during the race then please make sure it is securely attached to you, and not just kept in your back pocket or in the top pocket of your rucksack.
MAKE SURE YOU ARE VACCINATED AND INSURED!