The 2023 Tusker-Lite Mt. Rwenzori Marathon exceeded expectations as thousands thronged Kasese for the second edition held on Saturday.
Over 2000 runners took part, including locals, an overwhelming increase of numbers from 800 that graced the inaugural edition last year.
Parents and children, youth and experienced, rich and poor, Corporates and politicians, fun and seasoned runners, enthusiasts among others, braved the wee hours of the morning for different missions.
The locals were familiar with the course, many from Kampala were seen taking selfies while running yet some especially from Kapchorwa came for just one mission – money positions.
Runners came from 14 countries, with Vitalis Kwemoi (42km, Men), Viola Chemos (42km, Women), Abel Chebet (21km, Men) and Dorcas Ajok (21km, Women), main winners.
Since Friday, businesses were booming. Hotels, lodges and guest houses were all fully booked. Restaurants, Chapat guys, Boda-bodas, shops among others were all busy throughout.
“Many foreigners came a bit earlier and some will remain behind to continue spending money in this economy,” said Amos Wekesa of Equator Hikes, the organisers of the event.
“Everyone is happy, starting with the runners, Sponsors, the locals. This region has so much potential that no one from this region should be poor.
“As organisers, it will take us about five years to break even, but we are glad that the population here is benefitting.
“We had some few challenges, including limited water supply at some point, but we promise to get better and better.
“It’s been very exhausting, we are very grateful to God that this has ended, there are few mistakes made that we need to correct, but it has been a learning curve, altogether it’s been a well organised event.”
The Winners Smile Away with Millions:
Kemoi completed his 42km race in 2 hours, 17 minutes and 21 seconds. “I am very happy to be the day’s winner. The course and weather haven’t been favourable for me but I thank God I have managed to come first.”
“I need to become like Joshua Cheptegei or Victor Kiplangat, I want to represent my Country in International events.”
He revealed that he had prepared for the Marathon for two months ago when his coach notified him about the event.
Bernard Cheptoch was beaten by a second by Kwemoi while Abraham Kiplimo came third (02:17:37).
The Women’s 42km winner, Chemos, said that it was a tough course but it was God’s will for her victory.
“This is not only my first time in Kasese, but also my first ever Marathon I have ever taken part. I have been doing Half marathons that is 10k and 15km. I am just happy, and want to make more marathons going forward.”
The 30-year old Bukwo born, from Arua Athletics Club, beat Rosina Jepkosgei (02:50:32) and Priscila Chelangat (02:52:01) who finished second and third respectively.
Chebet (01:02:56), Ben Chelimo (01:02:57) and Norman Kipyeko (01:03:02) took the podium places in Men’s 21.1km.
In the Women’s 21km category, Ajok (01:16:24), Belinda Chemutai (01:16:30) and Annet Chelangat (01:16:32) took the top honours.
The number one in 42km in both genders took home Sh8m each. The others from 2nd to 5th got Sh5m, Sh3m, Sh2m and Sh1m in that order.
The winner of each gender in 21km got Sh5m while the other top five got Sh4m, Sh3m, Sh2m and Sh1m.
Andrew Kilonzo, the Managing Director of Uganda Breweries Ltd who are the flagship sponsors of the Marathon, said the event is targeted at improving lives in Kasese.
He commended the Kasese people for being very hospitable and also credited the Government for improving infrastructure since they last held the first marathon last year.
“Last year, this street was a murram road, but after that Marathon, the road has been tarmacked and many more roads and buildings are being worked on,” Kilonzo said.
“As Uganda Breweries, we want to improve livelihoods and we are glad that the Tusker Lite Mt. Rwenzori Marathon is a vehicle for economic empowerment in the Kasese region.”
He added: “A lot of money has been poured into Kasese this weekend. This is going to have a repeat effect as more and more people are going to be visiting Kasese.
“Tusker-lite is about lifestyle, with low carbohydrates, it’s speaks to those who are looking for fitness. We are happy that we are giving them the product that will give them enjoyment thereafter. We always give back to our consumers. This will be a big catalyst to the development of this region.”
Kabugo Emmanuel, the Marketing of Uniliver Uganda LTD, speaking after finishing the 5km, revealed: “We are happy to be in Kasese for this Tusker Lite Rwenzori Marathon, it has been an amazing experience.”
“We have managed to interact with the people here who have now understood that our products are not only of good quality but also affordable.
“We want to thank the organisers for allowing us partner with this event so that we can try and change the livelihoods. It has been a good experience overall.”