Kampala City Marathon on, MTN Kampala Marathon off

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Kampala City Marathon on, MTN Kampala Marathon off
Victor Kiplangat is the reigning world marathon champion

The new event signals end to MTN Kampala Marathon, which had been a staple for Kampala's social scene from 2004 until last year when it went cold

Minister of Sports Peter Ogwang has unveiled the Kampala City Marathon tamplate, emphasising its significance in enhancing tourism and investment in Uganda.

Ogwang said the government aims to showcase Uganda's socio-cultural and economic richness through the marathon while also promoting public health through regular physical activity to combat non-communicable diseases.

"The Kampala City Marathon aims to highlight Uganda's cultural and economic heritage while encouraging physical activity to prevent non-communicable diseases," Minister Ogwang declared during a media briefing.

The new marathon leaves the MTN Kampala Marathon, a signature annual event with a charity backbone, in limbo given the timing.

The MTN Kampala Marathon, which attracts international runners, had taken place annually since 2004 when it was launched except for the two Covid-19-affected years.

However, last year, the organisers went cold on the event, saying they were taking a step back to realign their vision and "innovate around how to distinguish ourselves and become more impactful for the years to come".

"We will therefore not be having the MTN Kampala Marathon this year but will soon announce the next transformative chapter in this remarkable journey that we have all come to cherish," MTN said last year.

But with the Kampala City Marathon already launched, the chances of MTN's highly successful event returning on the city's calendar are slim.

Minister Ogwang outlined the marathon as a decade-long project aimed at branding Kampala City and Uganda as premier tourist destinations, thus boosting revenue generation.

Minister Ogwang projected the participation of over 65,000 individuals throughout the decade, urging Ugandans to actively engage in this national initiative for mutual benefit.

The marathon, poised to become one of Africa's top races, is anticipated to attract tens of thousands of visitors, showcasing Uganda's renowned long-distance running tradition and celebrating its unique beauty and diversity.

"The Ministry of Education and Sports, in collaboration with the Uganda Athletics Federation, the Private Sector, and relevant Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, will organise the marathon," Ogwang said.

Scheduled for December 2024, the marathon will feature races covering distances of 42.195km, 21.097km, 10km, and 5km, welcoming both elite and recreational local and international runners.

"The Ministry envisions the participation of over 65,000 individuals in the marathon over the next decade," Ogwang emphasised.

The marathon's events will serve as platforms to showcase Uganda's natural beauty and cultural diversity, providing opportunities for the local business community to exhibit their products and services globally.

In addition to entertainment and a cultural festival, the marathon will include Safari packages to various tourist destinations following the marathon weekend.

While the government takes the lead in organising the annual Kampala City Marathon, it calls upon all Ugandans to actively participate to maximise the associated benefits.

Funding for the marathon's organisation will be provided by the President of Uganda, underscoring his commitment to promoting physical activity as a means to prevent non-communicable diseases.

Following the initial four years, the marathon is expected to become self-sustaining through contributions from the private sector and event proceeds.

"I urge all Ugandans to join the Government in participating in the marathon within their capacities. With the support of the public and private sector, we aim to foster a conducive environment for public health through physical activity," Ogwang said.

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