Ugandans dominate top spots at MTN marathon

Ugandan runners won the 42kms, 21kms and 10kms races as hundreds of runners turned up Sunday morning to participate in the MTN Kampala marathon focused on fundraising cash to improve maternal health in the country.

This is a wrap up of the marathons that the organisation has run in different regions this year.

Denis Cherotich won the men side for 10kms while Sauline Chelangat won the females race. Each received a Shs 1.5m prize.

On the 21kms, Jacob Kiplimo and Juliet Chekwei took the race, with each receiving Shs 4.5m

The 42kms race was won by Phillip Kiplimo with 02:13:56 on the clock. Nyakisi Adero won over the female side in the 42kms.

Kenyans participated in the race but were all beaten to the prize.

Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN Uganda, CEO said he hoped this was a chance reduce an estimated 336 deaths per 100,000 live births in Uganda.

Dr Ruth Aceng, the minister of health and the chief guest who flagged off the marathoners, said hailed the support and said “no mother should die while giving life to a child.”

For most people, the marathon was an avenue for having fun.  As soon as they were flag off, a host of them were seen taking selfies to post on social media for their friends.

A cross section of the crowd that turned up for the marathon

For most companies that sponsored the marathon, the sheer numbers of the people that turned up gives them a pie on brand recognition. Huawei, a Chinese phone maker and the main sponsor, gave up tens of awards like t-shirts, power banks and phones.

Although MTN Uganda has not yet announced proceeds from the MTN Kampala marathon, Ministry of Health says they received prior commitment from the company that part of the money would go into renovating the Neonatal Unit at Kawempe National Referral hospital.

The neonatal unit admits both premature babies and full term but sick babies who are below four weeks of age.

Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the State Minister for Primary Health Care said that their plan is to remodel the unit  such that more babies can be accommodated since they are often overwhelmed by numbers to the extent that numerous babies have to share one bed.

She said in addition to the marathon money, they have already received donations from other companies for the unit. She cited giving Café Javas that handed them incubators worth Shs 40million last Monday.

Early this year, Kawempe hospital was put on the spot when a picture of babies in the neonatal unit bundled on one bed and others on plastic chairs leaked on social media.