- Mustafa ‘Eskimo’ Kamara crowned 2016 Sierra Leone Marathon Champion

- More than 600 runners compete in the world’s most ‘worthwhile’* marathon

 29th May 2016: 118 British runners travelled to Sierra Leone this week to join over 500 Sierra Leonean competitors in the 5th edition of the Street Child Sierra Leone Marathon.

Laid out over four distances – 5k, 10k, half and full marathon – the runners weaved their way through the parched streets of Makeni in the north of the country. Braving hot and humid conditions, the surrounding communities were out in force to provide boisterous support for competitors from more than 15 countries worldwide, including those as far afield as Finland, Australia, China and Chile. 

Mustafa 'Eskimo' Kamara as he crosses the finish line as the winner of the 2016 Sierra Leone Marathon

Mustafa 'Eskimo' Kamara as he crosses the finish line as the winner of the 2016 Sierra Leone Marathon

But it was the Sierra Leonean nationals that swept the field, winning all four categories of both the male and female competitions. Mustafa ‘Eskimo’ Kamara, 21, was the first full marathon runner across the finish line to take this year’s title.

“This is my first time winning here at the Sierra Leone Marathon at this distance.” Kamara said. “I’ve only competed in one marathon event before in Nigeria so it feels good to be the winner. I felt comfortable across all of the course and I’m so glad to be here now as the champion.

'Eskimo' running the Sierra Leone Marathon

'Eskimo' running the Sierra Leone Marathon

“This event is for children in our country so that makes it special for us and for me as the winner: children that are in the streets, children that need help getting into school, children that have very little – knowing they will be supported by this event, I am glad to have taken on those 26 miles for that.”  

The first half-marathon runner to cross the line was Mohammed Bah Kamara, 18, from Waterloo.

 “It was Street Child that started this competition and I feel so happy to win the half marathon in my first year running this distance. Last year I competed in the 10k,” he said.

“I was feeling so happy during the race and there was no problem when I was running. I enjoyed it very much and I want to come back and defend next year. It is not easy to compete in events like this. I’m glad to have the chance because, really, it’s not easy as a runner here.”

This year’s marathon is supporting Street Child’s Girls Speak Out Appeal, for which all funds raised or donated will be doubled by the UK government to help ensure twice as many Sierra Leonean girls can stay in school and gain a quality education. Bearing in mind the fact that all runners were taking on this challenge to support girls’ education, the results of the female section of the event were more poignant than ever. 

The first female marathon runner across the line was Isatu Turay18, from Freetown.

“I’ve just finished so I’ll just say I feel okay!” said Turay not long after powering across the finish. “I did my first marathon here in 2015 and I came second. I’ve trained so hard for these conditions and I trained to win this year; and now I’ve done it.

“Since the marathon is helping support girls into school, girls that maybe don’t have a family or are struggling to go to school, to compete here and win is very special for me. Education is so important for girls in our country. If you are educated, people will be careful with you, they won’t be foolish with you. Girls need that help.” 

Fatima B Sesay, 18, from Freetown won the female half-marathon.

“I’ve been training so hard at long distance running and I felt very comfortable out there today,” said Sesay. “I’ve competed in the Sierra Leone Marathon four times, the first time in 2013 and it feels so good to be here this year as champion of the half marathon today. This event is a big one for us as we do not have much opportunity to compete.

“I am also happy to be running to support girls’ education in Sierra Leone. This is for their future and it is so important. Education for girls is very important because if we do not go to school we will really suffer.”

The first female to cross the line in the 10km race was Mariama K Conteh, 19, from Freetown.

“I feel so happy because I really wanted to win this year, my second time at the Sierra Leone Marathon,” said Conteh. “I’ve been training morning and evening for this event. It was very hard but I did all I could to complete the race in first place.

“This year the funds support girls’ education and that is very important for us as a country. So this race is great not just for the runners but also for the girls that will benefit. I hope next year everyone who is not here will come to join us.” 

Georgina Sesay, 16, from Freetown took first place in the female 5km.

“I feel very good to win the 5k because I have been training so hard for it,” said Sesay. “I felt good all the way round and I like competing in this event so much. This is my second time at the Sierra Leone Marathon so I’m so glad to come back and win.

“I’m also glad to know I have won my distance in this event where all the funds will support girls into school in my country. Education is very important because it represents success for us girls.”  

Street Child would like to say a massive thank you and a heartfelt congratulations to everyone that competed in this year's marathon. To those that have taken on this challenge and raised money to support the children, families and communities that you visited ahead of the race, we are incredibly grateful for all that you've done - and continue to do - to support our work. We look forward to seeing you soon... and to welcoming you back next year!