The Sierra Leone Marathon - one of the world’s toughest marathons
We departed for Sierra Leone on Thursday 23 May to take part in one of the world’s toughest marathons - the eighth hardest according to Runners World.
Flying into Freetown, no one knew what to expect and we were nervous but excited to start the three-hour drive to Makeni - the main community the foundation has been supporting since 2017.
The heat was intense, sanitation was poor and the side effects of the malaria tablets were kicking in. We arrived exhausted but the warm welcome from the local people lifted us up and we couldn’t wait to see the impact of our investment in the community.
The next day, we visited our first Street Child school in an isolated area in the north of Sierra Leone. It was incredible to see The Altum Academy in action. Funded by our 2018 Experience, this Altum Foundation school educates 310 children from six surrounding villages. Meeting the children and seeing their enthusiasm to learn was rewarding and humbling.
The headteacher and the local Chief talked to us about the impact of the two schools we have built and it renewed our motivation to complete the race on Sunday.
Race day dawned on Sunday 26 May and despite the 6am race start, the heat was intense - 34 degrees with 87% humidity. Running on such uneven terrain, up steep inclines and dealing with the effects of the sun made this the challenge of a lifetime.
We’re proud to say that 16 team members completed the full marathon and four completed the half marathon.
The incredible support we received on the route made it the experience of a lifetime - something we’ll never forget. We wear the Street Child Sierra Leone Marathon medal with pride!
Raised for Street Child.
"The thing that struck me most about our trip was the warmth and welcome of the people. The people of Sierra Leone have been through so much but this has not dampened their ability to make visitors to their country feel welcome.
The work that Street Child are doing In Sierra Leone is truly amazing. Our visit to the schools the Altum Foundation has helped fund has left a lasting impression on me. The children there are receiving an education and that is the most valuable thing they could receive.
I left Sierra Leone with a real feeling of wanting to help disadvantaged people more. I hope I can do that in the future".
"I just wanted to personally say a HUGE thank you for giving me and all of us the opportunity to be a part of such a once in a lifetime event. As soon as I got home yesterday I burst in to tears because the realisation of everything we did and saw really hit home and it’s hard to be able to relay that to anyone else who wasn’t there. Honestly it was the most unique and inspiring journey I’ve been on so thank you a thousand times over for offering the chance to have this experience and organising the trip so well."
"The Sierra Leone trip was an unbelievable experience that nothing could prepare me for. I fell in love with the people there, who were so generous, welcoming and happy despite having very little in the way of material goods. The trip was arranged meticulously and every part of it was brilliant. As well as visiting the schools I found the amputee football game particularly inspiring. The marathon itself was the toughest (but possibly most rewarding) experience of my life and nothing will beat the feeling of finally seeing that finish line and my colleagues waiting for me with a beer.
Thank you Daleen for arranging such an amazing trip. It was really incredible and I will never forget it."