Counting down…two months until Street Child’s Sierra Leone Marathon 2019.
With only two months until the 2019 Sierra Leone Marathon takes place on Sunday 26th May, runners’ preparations are well underway to tackle the race through Makeni’s tropical jungle.
Over 100 international runners have already signed up to travel to Sierra Leone to take part in the race. Many of this year’s participants will be competing in their very first marathon with the attitude that if you’re going to bother to train for a marathon why not take on one as impressive as the Sierra Leone Marathon! At the other end of the spectrum we are as excited as ever that Josh Ord-Hume will once again be returning to Makeni to run his 8th Sierra Leone Marathon!
One more experienced runner joining us in Makeni this year is Liz Warner. Liz will be running the Sierra Leone Marathon as part of her 786 mile ‘Run to Reach’ challenge where she aims to run 30 of the world’s toughest marathons during 2019 and 2020, raising money for Street Child and other organisations. Liz has 13 marathons under her belt already and will come to Makeni just a couple of weeks after running the Silk Road Marathon in Kyrgystan. We asked interviewed Liz to hear her thoughts on taking part in the Sierra Leone Marathon:
Have you been to Sierra Leone already? If yes, what are your memories of it? If not, what most excites you about the trip?
This will be my first trip to Sierra Leone! I am really looking forward to uncovering such a different side of Sierra Leone than the biased image so often presented in the media. With its stunning landscapes, amazing wildlife, and vibrant traditions, this trip could not be more rewarding on a purely tourism level. However, I am most excited to learn about Sierra Leone through the perspective of Street Child’s incredible work there. I cannot wait to dive into this mind-expanding adventure that will undoubtedly change my life forever.
You've run some challenging marathons before, how do you think you will cope with the heat and humidity in Sierra Leone?
I am definitely most nervous about the humidity. I hope to ask runners who have participated in previous SLM marathons for any insider tips on how they managed to get through it! But like any other challenging marathon, I plan to just run at a slower pace and focus all of my energy on enjoying my surroundings and reflecting on just how lucky I will feel to be running in this beautiful country.
We've heard it said that the Sierra Leone marathon is the 8th toughest marathon in the world. Do you think that's a fair assessment? And why?
I’ve heard first hand just how tough the heat and humidity can be during the SLM, where it feels almost impossible to cool down. I am sure it is a fair assessment, especially since most runners who travel to Sierra Leone for the marathon are unable to properly train under such trying conditions. But again, I think the key will be to not start out too fast and to go at a slower pace than normal. My goal will be just to finish and have a blast interacting with my surroundings and the cheering local Sierra Leoneans along the way.
What appeals to you about Street Child's work?
What appeals to me most about Street Child’s work is its high level of transparency in all of its missions and all the different interventions they use to try to resolve key issues specifically facing Sierra Leone. I am a huge proponent of “effective altruism” and Street Child could not be more aligned with all of the criteria necessary to be listed as a highly effective organization. By posting a number of its reports online, Street Child allows the public to see just how effective it is in conducting research in the country and how it aims to tackle the issues raised in its studies.
Since a number of the organizations I am working in my Run to Reach campaign are focused on female empowerment initiatives, I felt a very strong connection to Street Child’s Girls Speak Out campaign. In so many ways, this project is a perfect example of one that provides the tools and resources for vulnerable women to become empowered individuals by helping them access an education or build a business to better support themselves or their families.
It is clear just how closely Street Child works with the thousands of children and families it provides opportunity for, by tracking its successes through the number of children who remain in school, or family businesses that are sustained after its support has ended.
I am looking forward to being completely fully blown away by the experience of traveling to Sierra Leone and seeing first- hand the incredibly positive impact Street Child has had on the country.
If you are reading this and haven’t yet signed up for Sierra Leone Marathon but are tempted to give it a go, there is still time to register - get in touch with Angela via firstname.lastname@example.org .