MTN Marathon: Tracing the History of Uganda’s Oldest Marathon Event

FDC ironman Dr Kizza Besigye has announced the beginning of what he described as a “defiance campaign” against the government of President Museveni with the view of “liberating our power back to the people.”

Renowned for leading a series of violent protests in different parts of the country in the last ten years, tadalafil Besigye’s remarks after his nomination as a presidential candidate at Namboole by the Electoral Commission herald the start of possible violence in the country.

“It is not an ordinary campaign of a candidate asking for power from the people, viagra ” Besigye emphasised in an authoritative tone, viagra order adding, “people have no power, what can they give?”

He then put his point, succinctly: “It is a campaign of us together with the people seeking our power back.”

A controversial figure in the Uganda opposition politics, Besigye broke ranks with the ruling government which he helped capture power in 1986 after a military struggle, in 1999.

He would later question the ability of president Museveni’s government to live by the core principles that took the NRA to the bush, saying the movement had deviated from the objectives of its foundation.

President Museveni has since dismissed Besigye’s accusations, saying he did not spend enough time with NRA to appreciate its ideology.

Earlier today, Besigye first refused to abide by directives of traffic police to use a specific route to Namboole only to be overwhelmed my security forces.

ChimpReports understands that military police have been deployed at Kireka where Besigye will be subdued should he reject orders from police.

“This is why I have said without any shed of doubt, that this is a campaign of defiance not of compliance. We cannot have a compliant campaign complying with a dictatorship. It’s going to be a campaign of defiance so that we liberate our power,” said Besigye in a press briefing at Namboole today.

“This campaign is about seeing that power goes back to the people and institutions become institutions of the people of Uganda and serve people of Uganda,” charged Besigye.

“That’s what this campaign is about – first and foremost– the liberation of our country, the taking back of our power from the few people who monopolise it using instruments of terror.”

Besigye addressing supporters on his way to Namboole

Besigye addressing supporters on his way to Namboole

He said his campaign will move in three phases.

“The first phase is liberation – once power has been liberated, the next phase is reconfiguration of the state so that we now have institutions of the people,” said Besigye.

The trained medical doctor-turned politician said Uganda has a police force “which is not a police force of the people but a force which people run away from.”

Besigye said people should run to the police not the other way round.

He further revealed that the second phase will entail reconstruction of the state and later “transformation of our country so that citizens can live in a country in which they are proud to be.”


Besigye said he intends to ensure Ugandans have “equal opportunities and share equally in the wealth and opportunities we have in the country not few people as it is today.”

He maintained that he is driven by the desire to have a “broad-based development not development for a handful of people.”

“You hear the regime saying growth by 6 percent, but growth by who? Of those who are begging? It’s by a handful of people. We must have broad based economic development that benefits all,” he added.

Besigye said FDC will “banish humiliating poverty of our people and universal unemployment that we have today,” adding, the youth “wake and wander along the roads hopelessly. This is going to be the final success of the people’s struggle.”

Besigye being welcomed by EC PRO Jotham Taremwa to the EC headquarters

Besigye being welcomed by EC PRO Jotham Taremwa to the EC headquarters

Besigye did not spare the Electoral Commission, describing it as a walking stick of President Museveni and his government.

“I want you understand that I have absolutely nothing against the fine ladies and gentlemen that occupy the offices of Electoral Commission,” said Besigye.

“But we have a problem with the institution of EC as it now. We would like to have an independent EC. Independent not in name but in every respect that can fairly manage electoral processes in this country,” said Besigye.

However, EC spokesperson Jotham Taremwa said the institution has developed enough capacity to deliver a free and fair election.

“Our determination to conduct free and fair elections remains unshakeable. We have the capacity needed in terms of human resource and equipment to ensure the success of this exercise,” said Taremwa.

Clad in a blue tie, black suit and white shirt, Dr. Besigye arrived at Namboole stadium at 11:10am, accompanied by a mammoth crowd of his supporters.

Gen Muntu gives opening remarks ahead ahead of Besigye's press briefing

Gen Muntu gives opening remarks ahead ahead of Besigye’s press briefing

FDC’s top officials who escorted the aspirant included the party President, Mugisha Muntu, Nabilah Naggayi, Ssemujju Nganda, Salamu Musumba, Wafula Oguttu, Ambassador Birigwa, Nandala Mafabi, Cecilia Ogwal among others.

DP’s Erias Lukwago, Allan Ssewanyana were also part of the entourage.

Besigye is expected to address his supporters at Nakivubo stadium where he’ll expound on his manifesto.
By Albert Mucunguzi 

Ahead of the Pope’s visit next month, adiposity all roads will lead to Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala as an expected 20, 000 people will grace the 11th edition of the MTN Marathon.

While the winners will have UgS 100 million to share amongst themselves, participants have found various reasons to be part of the marathon, beyond the prize money.

“It started as a normal marathon event. But over the years, it has evolved into a lot of things: to some people, it is a social event; to some corporate companies, it serves a team-building purpose while to some other people – especially those interested in philanthropy– it is a way of giving back,” noted Aggrey Kagonyera, one of the MTN Uganda staff that conceived the idea.

The Marathon was launched in 2004, and has been held every third Sunday of November since – with the exception of the 2007 edition which had to be adjusted to cater for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Uganda that year.

While the inaugural edition attracted just 1,500 participants, subsequent editions have averaged 20,000 participants. MTN limits participation to 20,000 in order to allow for seemless traffic traffic flow around the city on the day of the Marathon.

The 2004 marathon had 1500 runners, 2005 had 2500 and the numbers kept increasing each year. The last four years have had 20,000 runners.

“On average, the leading participants take about 37 minutes to run the 10KM race; by which time some participants are still getting ready to leave the starting point. So the numbers need to be managed to maintain systematic flow, both for participants and the rest of the road users,” added Kagonyera.

The proceeds from the marathon are used for good charity causes, ranging from resettling families that formerly resided in IDP camps to providing safe water in the Karamoja region.

Most of such proceeds come from MTN and other corporate companies that take part in the event. About 18000 – 20000 participants register every year to take part in the event.

At last year’s launch, MTN CEO Brian Gouldie noted that the success of the MTN marathon is testament that Ugandans care about others.

“It is not us who contributed the money but the thousands of runners, who made sure that they touch people’s hearts. We take pride in seeing that the participants of the MTN Kampala marathon make a difference in the lives of people of Karamoja,” said Gouldie.

Among other key milestones, the Marathon prides itself in having acted as a platform for local athletes that have gone on to perform exceptionally at the global stage.

Reigning Olympic marathon champion, Stephen Kiprotich was won the MTN Kampala Marathon before going on to win gold at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Dorcus Inzikuru, one of the pioneer participants at the maiden Marathon in 2004 also went on to win the inaugural world title in women’s 3000 m steeplechase, as well as the first Commonwealth title in the event.

The 2015 Edition will take place on November 22nd, a week before the highly anticipated visit of the Pope. Registration opens on October 20th 2015.

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