Interview: Gill from the Rwanda Challenge Marathon

Rwanda Challenge Marathon

Gill got in touch with me awhile ago to tell me about this fun marathon in Eastern Rwanda in support of the Msaada Cow Project. Check it out! Get involved! You can find more information on their Facebook page.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re doing in Rwanda.

My name is Gill East I am a keen runner and a member of the Gillingham Trotters running club in Dorset, England. I have 3 sons and they all came out to run the half marathon last year in Rwamagana and had to admit they had a great time. I have travelled extensively in Africa and I am always looking for an excuse for a visit, so organising this marathon in Rwamgana gives me a chance to visit Rwanda each year and meet up with the people I have met over the years.
I have been involved with farming in the U.K and the Msaada cow project ticks all the boxes as a sustainable way to alleviate poverty and enables me to sell the marathon idea to anyone who will listen.

How did you end up getting involved in the marathon?

After returning from running a half marathon in Kenya I was asked by Billy Kelly from Msaada to establish a marathon and half marathon in Rwamagana to enable visitors, both runners and their supporters, to see the good work done in Rwanda by Msaada and establish a connection with the Rwandan people. Helping to organise races in the UK has enabled me to transfer knowledge gained, particularly from my local running club, the Gillingham Trotters, who organise The North Dorset Village Marathon voted the 6th best marathon in the UK by Runners World in 2013. As a keen runner in the U.K I have always been fan of running races abroad to travel with a purpose. The experience of visiting the place that you are raising funds for is immensely satisfying and ensuring that the money raised is being used in a responsible way is very reassuring.

How did the Rwanda Challenge Marathon come about?

The first Rwanda Challenge Marathon, half marathon and 10k took place in 2010 as a fundraiser for Msaada, a charity started in 2004 by Billy Kelly and Fergal Keane who reported on the genocide.

How many Rwanda Challenge Marathons have there been?

2015 will be the fifth marathon and there is also a half marathon and 10k race.

What will funds raised from the race be used for?

Funds are raised for the Msaada Cow Project bringing in calf heifers from Ireland to Rwanda where they are donated to widows, immediately taking them out of poverty, with spare milk to sell, manure for their crops and methane can be used for cooking.

How do the cows adapt to life in Rwanda?

The cows adapt remarkably well and all recipients are trained in their care with the first heifer calf passed to another family and so the gift grows in a self sustaining way.

Where does the race take place and who enters?

The race starts from Avega East in Rwamagana at 07:00am to avoid the heat of the day and there are serious runners as well as fun runners and volunteers are welcome to come along to help or just support the runners

What is the course like?

The course is all off road through stunning scenery and is a tough challenge but the course is well marshaled with plenty of water and banana stops.

What trophies are there?

All finishers get a T shirt and a medal and there are trophies for male and female winners in each race

How do you enter the race?

Entries can be made on the day but registration closes at 06:45am so it is best to register in advance

What would you say to someone considering the race?

Just come along and join us either as a runner or supporter for a great day out!





About Kirsty

A Canadian who left in 2001 to wander around the world in search of sun, beautiful views and goat brochettes. Found Kigali in July 2010 and it seems like the perfect fit. I expect to be here until I get kicked out for defiantly walking on the grass while wearing flip flops.