THE United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has stepped in to support this year's Kilimanjaro Marathon, set for Moshi on March 3.
UNFPA Representative, Mariam Khan told a news conference in Dar es Salaam that they have decided to partner with organisers of the event and use it as an entry point to raise awareness on reproductive health issues including HIV/AIDS, condom use and promote behaviour change among youths.
They also target to use the event to address the problem of early marriage in Tanzania, saying the country has one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in the world. She said on average, almost two out of five girls will be married before their 18th birthday in Tanzania She said as a starting point, they will support at least ten youths from the Arusha based Women's Aids Control Society, CHAWAKUWA, to take part in the race, which is increasingly becoming popular in the world.
"We want to reach out to the population and address the challenges facing the youths. We felt that the right platform to meet our target will be through the use of sports," she said, while insisting that the UNFPA recognise the potential of sports in improving access to quality information (visibility) and service.
UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.
The organisers of the Kilimanjaro Marathon 2013 have announced that this year's race will be run on the same route as last year. John Addison, the Managing Director of Wild Frontiers, organisers of the event said that the marathon route will start at the MUCCoBS Stadium and go down towards the town, and then along the main road to Dar es Salaam for approximately 8 to 9km.
They turn around and head back to the town of Moshi, tracking down into the actual town itself before turning toward the mountain and heading up a long, steady ascent towards Mweka. The uphill climb is gradual, but with Kilimanjaro towering above and all the local villagers out to cheer you on, the time passes quickly.
The turnaround point marks approximately 32km and the last section is a fast downhill run back toward the stadium. Regular water tables as well as "sponging points" and the odd "shower" keep the runners refreshed and cool along the entire route. The route passes through many small holder farms, villages, and parts of town, banana and coffee plantations and patches of forest, providing great excitement to the residents who give ample vocal support.
Executive Solutions are local coordinators while Co-sponsors of the event include sponsors Vodacom Tanzania (5km Fun Run), GAPCO (Disabled Half Marathon), Tanga Cement, CFAO Motors, KK Security, Keys Hotel, TPC Sugar, TanzaniteOne, New Arusha Hotel, Kilimanjaro Water, FastJet and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).