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Mount Rwenzori Tusker Lite Marathon Launches Second Edition

, Mount Rwenzori Tusker Lite Marathon Launches Second Edition, eTurboNews | eTN
Tourism Minister Mugara and Amos Wekesa - image courtesy of T.Ofungi

The Rwenzori Marathon taking place in Kasese, western Uganda, has been launched as an event to kick start World Tourism Day 2023.

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Dubbed The Tusker Lite Rwenzori Marathon, the run will take place on September 2, 2023, in Kasese district at the foothills of the snowcapped 5,109-meter Ruwenzori ranges in western Uganda. According to the main sponsor of the marathon, Tusker Lite, the aim of the marathon is to promote healthy living, boost tourism to the region, and support local communities through the power of running by bringing together local and international runners.

The event hopes to showcase the stunning landscapes of the Rwenzori Mountains and Queen Elizabeth National Park, including its famous glaciers, towering peaks, lush forests, and expansive savannah. The ultimate goal is to make the Rwenzori Marathon a must-attend event for runners and outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. The event also aims to create a lasting impact on the region, supporting local communities and promoting sustainable development.

Unveiling the event on Thursday, August 24, at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel, Uganda Lodges CEO Amos Wekesa addressed members of the press and the tourism fraternity at large in attendance including the Honorable State Minister for Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, Mugara Bahinduka; Uganda Tourism Board CEO, Lilly Ajarova; Uganda Wildlife Authority Business Director, Stephen Sanyi Masaba; representatives from the private sector; and influencers including motor mouthed kick boxer Moses Golola, musician Pasaso, Fina Masanyaraze, et al.

In an impassioned speech  to the audience, Wekesa said: “I ran the half marathon in ‘Kili’ (Kilimanjaro) this year, and I know what the impact of what that marathon does. So we thought okay, Kili is doing about 65,000 people climbing that mountain, Mount Rwenzori which is the most iconic mountain on the continent was doing less than 2,000 foreigners in a year. We thought, how do we push this agenda for it to be actually competitive? We have 65,000 people climbing every year, each of those paying an average of 5,000 dollars; we are talking over 300 million dollars that is earned in the economy of Tanzania.

“Kili is pretty much a walking mountain. The most technical mountain is actually The Ruwenzoris with 16 peaks, 5 of which are among the top 10 highest peaks on the continent. I climbed Rwenzori last year, I lost 7 kilograms in 7 days.”

“There is nothing that can prepare you for the challenge just like there is nothing that can prepare you for the beauty that you see on that mountain.”

“Why are people below it poor? How can people below it get out of poverty? So that was the thinking behind the Ruwenzori marathon. So last year we started pushing the agenda of the Ruwenzori Marathon. We’ve been on it consistently, and I can tell you that there is no event like the Ruwenzori marathon that is being pushed.

“Last year we had 800runners, 150 Ugandans who are our models are targeted. So far we have 1,500 registered. We intend to have about 2,500 runners next weekend. That is what the impact of this marathon is going to be. Right now as we speak, all the hotels in Kasese are almost booked out, Fort Portal is now starting to fill up. Last year, supermarkets on September 3 ran out of chicken, ran out of eggs, of everything, and they had to go to Fort Portal and bring more food. That is what encourages the economy to grow.” 

Wekesa recognized the big supporters including Tusker Lite producers of beer contributing about a billion shillings, Stanchart Bank contributing 100 million shillings, UNDP (United Nations Development Program) put in over 300 million shillings, along with more from Coca-Cola, etc. He added that the Ministry of Tourism is very happy to come on board: ;…they’ve put in about 50 million shillings, we’ve had UWA (Uganda Wildlife Authority) putting in some money, giving us buses for that, and we are pushing it. This year we want to spend about 500 million shillings  just to market Ruwenzori outside Uganda. We have hired a marketing firm called Pindrop and you saw we were number one in the USA. If we didn’t have the ‘gay bill’ passed, we would have over 500 English people coming. As we speak now, we have people registered from 13 countries across the world. Nine of the countries are actually African countries. We have Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia, and all these places. So we are looking forward to seeing you guys…”

The Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Honorable Mugara Bahinduka, thanked the influencers and the press present. He recognized Bonifence Byamukama,, Chairman, ESTOA (Exclusive Sustainable Tour Operators Association), and Jean Byamugisha, CEO, Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA), among others. He also  paid tribute to his predecessor, Honorable Godfrey Kiwanda, for promoting domestic tourism. He recognized the contribution of foreign tourists by bringing in more money but noted that it is also important to promote domestic tourism so they can be able to sustain this sector. He acknowledged the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and Ebola but said that the only way they can overcome such challenges is by promoting domestic tourism. He thanked all in the domestic campaign to promote domestic tourism dubbed “Tulambule” where  the campaign has been taken to eastern, western, and northern Uganda. He thanked those who have continued to visit and “Explore Uganda” even after the campaigns.

The Ruwenzori Marathon

Last year, Mt. Rwenzori topped the list of some of the world’s most beautiful half-marathons assembled by Outdoorswire USA today media describing the snow-capped mountains so close to the equator and gorilla tracking.

The Ruwenzori Marathon  is set against the backdrop of the majestic Rwenzori Mountains, also known as “Mountains of the Moon” boasting the third highest peak in Africa, Margherita Peak (5,109 meters ASL).  

Nestled in the western region of Uganda, the Rwenzori region offers stunning landscapes, unique flora and fauna, and unparalleled adventure opportunities. From the towering peaks that rise above the clouds to the crystal-clear glacial lakes and dense forests that dot the landscape, the Rwenzoris’ are truly a natural wonder.

Since the ancient Greek scholar Ptolemy claimed that these legendary “Mountains of the Moon” were the source of the Nile, the Rwenzori Mountains have captured the imagination of adventurers and explorers. To register for the marathon, click here.

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Tony Ofungi - eTN Uganda

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