KAMPALA - Organisers of the MTN marathon plan to make this year's race an occasion worthy of an event marking Uganda's Independence golden jubilee.
Besides attracting East Africa's long distance elite, the organisers are doing everything in their means to ensure the event also has a record entry.
A total of sh 112m in cash prizes will be on offer for the nine competition categories. The two winners in the 42 kilometre event will walk away with sh14m each.
"An entry of at least 20,000 participants is expected for the marathon which also serves as an opportunity to involve as many Ugandans as possible in charitable causes," said MTN chief executive Mazen Mroue.
This year, the marathon, whose theme is 'Run with your heart' will have its proceeds going to provision of clean water to the people of Bududa in Mt Elgon.
This, will be in partnership with Red Cross through which MTN has previously channeled such funds for projects in northern and eastern Uganda.
MTN has this year added Uganda' top media house-Vision Group through its flagship brand, New Vision, to its partners. "As official media partner, we assure Ugandans of in depth daily coverage," promised the Vision Group's top executive Robert Kabushenga.
Kabushenga, a regular entrant in the 21km race, caused laughter when he challenged Mroue and MTN chairman Charles Mbiire to a contest in this year event.
On a serious note, Kabushenga noted that sports activities like these, are a big relief to any country's health bills. "Running is the cheapest way of keeping health insurance."
Huawei Technologies, a top information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider, kick-started the fundraising campaign with a sh168m cheque.
"The African culture is said to be a communal one, and able persons often desire to reach out and help the less privileged in their communities. The MTN Kampala marathon presents such an opportunity for us all to actualize that desire," said Huwaei Managing Director Eric Yang.
As a sign of our commitment as a socially responsible corporate, Huawei will sponsor this year's marathon with 168 million Uganda Shillings and continue investing with life changing initiatives of this kind.
Uganda Athletics Federation boss Domenic Otuchet was full of praises for the organisers.
He said such partnerships contributed to Uganda's sparkle at the London Olympics that had Stephen Kiprotich winning gold in the marathon.
He however appealed for an extension of the support to other federation activities.