Ahead of the Pope’s visit next month, 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 Shs100million 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.

Year No of Runners
2004 1500 runners
2005 2500 runners registered
2006 3500 runners registered
2007 6500 runners registered
2008 18000 runners registered
2009 22000 runners registered
2010 18000 runners registered
2011 20,000-Capped
2012 20,000-Capped
2013 20,000-Capped
2014 20,000-Capped


“On average, the leading participants take about 37minutes 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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