Despite everything that has happened, The Sierra Leone Marathon will, as revealed in the Evening Standard, be held for the fourth time, on the 24th October 2015. As ever, the event will return to Makeni in the north of the country in a bid to raise much needed funds, this time of course to support the vital recovery effort.
The marathon is expected to take the same route as in previous years, which poignantly includes running through several villages devastated by Ebola – villages where Street Child has been providing vital aid. There will also be a half-marathon and 5km events as in previous years.
Tom Dannatt, Street Child’s CEO, said: "The disease has been terrifying and had a devastating effect on the country. But cases are now very low, schools are open and by October we expect Sierra Leone to have defeated Ebola and it will firmly be time to rebuild. This marathon will be raising funds directly for the orphans and other victims of Ebola and we predict a lot of British and overseas runners, of course alongside hundreds of nationals, will take on this challenge to help out."
He added: “The Sierra Leone Marathon has always been about two things: firstly, it is about fundraising - in a unique way, because it involves you actually going to the place and meeting the very people your fundraising effort are supporting; secondly, it is about this huge sporting challenge that also showcases the beauty and potential of Sierra Leone.
“As we hopefully move towards an end to this tragedy, both these goals have never been more important. When you think of the orphans, the children who are not yet in school and so many others who have has suffered in the past eleven months other – the need has never been greater.
“But, as importantly, by October especially, it will be more vital than ever to be telling the world that Sierra Leone is open for business & a wonderful place to visit and invest in. The image of Sierra Leone has taken a terrible bashing and it is time to reverse that.
“There is of course still work to be done to get to zero cases and that challenge is not under-estimated – but we are sure Sierra Leone can achieve this well before October.
“It is my sincere hope that this event will attract the same, or more, enthusiasm we have seen in previous years. It would be impossible to overstate how important that enthusiasm is at this difficult time."
Further details will be announced in the coming days.
Click here to read the Evening Standards's 2-page report on the 2014 marathon.