The Sierra Leone Marathon organised by the London-based charity Street Child UK has helped bring tourism to Sierra Leone and raise much-needed funds for some of the countries poorest children.
2018 Was the seventh running of the Sierra Leone Marathon and a whopping £150,000 was raised to fund access to education and provide support. Britons made up a 97 strong international contingent, taking on the roads of the northern city Makeni, alongside 500 local athletes. Sierra Leone is no easy feat with temperatures soaring to 30C and humidity at a sticky 98 per cent. 26 Year old Jess Cotton from Romford was the first international woman home in an impressive 3 hours 53 minutes. Jess managed to raise more than £22,000 together with some of her colleagues at City Insurance firm Tokio Marine Kiln.
Jess commented, “I wasn’t expecting to win. I’m chuffed. The scenery was amazing but no one warned us about the hills. The kids came up to me when I was having a panic attack. I was on my own and it was a bit bleak, but the kids ran from the side of the road and ran with me.”
Sierra Leone's GDP took a 20 per cent knock in 2015 and 2016 due to a fall in commodity prices and an Ebola outbreak. The key to rebuilding Sierra Leone's economy is tourism.
“We’re one of Sierra Leone’s main draws for tourism. We take people to see our work but I think everyone leaves loving Sierra Leone,” said Tom Dannatt, chief executive of Street Child. Through the 1,000 schools project, Street Child aims to raise £10 million over a five year period to give 100,000 children a chance to learn.
The woman's race was ultimately won by Isatu Turay from Waterloo, Freetown. Local man Charlie Usman won the men's race for the second year on Sunday in a time of 2 hours 39 minutes. The first British man home was Matthew Geleta from Cambridge in a time of 3 hours 20 minutes.
“It is incredibly important that organisations like Street Child – it’s not the only one – actually try to make a difference in Sierra Leone,” commented Countdown presenter and Street Child patron Nick Hewer.
Sierra Leone has so much to offer, and we would love to show you what the excitement is all about, so why not drop us a line and let's share our experience with you.