Today Mengo, the official seat for the Kabaka of Buganda was a scene of a sea of roaring crowds, elite athletes, amateur runners and charity fundraisers to create one of the most memorable birthday celebrations for Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.
The marathon used as a curtain raiser ahead of the 13th April birth day of the Kabaka geared at fundraising for Fistula patients.
The marathon was flagged off by the Kabaka at about 7:20am. “Commemorating the birth of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi 60 years ago, the Kabaka Birthday Run is one of the most inspirational road races in the country. This year’s running has ‘special meaning’ as it caps a variety of activities marking the 60th birthday for the Kabaka of Buganda,” said Charles Mayiga, Buganda Prime minister With over, 60,000 spectators flocking to the palace grounds to cheer on over 20,000 runners, is an atmosphere that few races are able to match.
The course its self is a relatively long one with sites like Kabaka’s lake, Bulange, Kasubi tombs ,Rubaga and Namirembe cathedrals and the Uganda Museum every turn, culminating in a spine tingling home stretch along Bulange lane .The race attracted the best runners from the country ,musicians ,artists ,politicians and people from the corporate world.
“The marathon was organized to honour the memory, celebrate life of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, and proceeds from the run are to sustain fistula patients. The event isn’t about running, but about life,” said Prince Wassajja.
For Catherine Nagawa a fistula patient, attending the Kabaka birthday marathon made her feel lively. Her brother Joseph recommended the race during her treatment for fistula Christine endured after giving birth to her child. “You are already going through the ultimate test of endurance” her brother told her. “Next to that, the marathon is a piece of cake”
Not fairly. Finishing the marathon was the second hardest thing Christine had ever accomplished.
“I am still afraid of the marathon,” Sandra Walusimbi an elite runner from Airtel, told me as she was training for 21 mile race. Even for professionals, the marathon is a humbling experience, its distance unpredictably torturous on the body and mind. The run was in categories of five, 10 and 21 kilometers.
Mrs. Walusimbi used her fear to motivate her. As a child she always ran in defiance of limits others imposed on her.
For Fred Balunywa, a financial analyst running with a T-shirt emblazoned with the words: “Kabaka’s Birthday Run 2015, Happiness continues” said that, Kabaka Birthday Run helps him reinvent himself and improve his image and health.
Grace Nakku who is nurse at Nsambya Hospital appreciated the Buganda Kingdom for organizing such event which according to her will help to create awareness regarding fistula. Alice Mwebaze, a recovering fistula patient and mother of three was grateful for the marathon. Throughout the race she felt buoyed by the crowd and knew she was back on the right path. “I feel like a superstar, at the beginning.
I thank Buganda management for the preparations and awareness created about the disease. The lessons from the marathon are enduring, and variations,” Ms Alice said. For her fistula is deadly and expensive disease to cure, and all other competitors, the finish line didn’t just represent an ending, but rather these themes replay every year in mothers and champions, recovering patients and average runners who are anything but.
The marathon was sponsored by Airtel, CBS, Bukedde, and MAAD advertising Agency and many others.