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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  June 2014  /  Billy runs the Sierra Leone Marathon

Billy runs the Sierra Leone Marathon

Supporting Street Child’s “Every Child in School” appeal

Billy runs the Sierra Leone Marathon

Billy Fox, a UCL Geography 3rd year student, did his final year dissertation last summer in Sierra Leone and has just been back to run a marathon for charity.

The Sierra Leone Marathon is hosted by the charity Street Child of Sierra Leone in the small town of Makeni in central Sierra Leone. Its adventurous location, energy sapping weather conditions and charitable cause attracted almost 1,000 international and national runners this year. Billy describes his experience:

This year, the race kicked off at 6am on Sunday 25th May from the FIFA-donated AstroTurf football pitch in the centre of town. Just as dawn broke, the horn sounded and a mass of healthy-looking and excited runners filled the streets of Makeni.

At the beginning of the race, the weather was cool and the roads relatively smooth, but as we left the town the sun began to rise and the roads to disappear. The heat increased throughout the race, peaking at around 43 degrees, bringing a severe risk of dehydration and general exhaustion, prevented only through regular water stops at half-mile intervals.

Nevertheless, the children of the many villages we ran through brought temporary relief, running alongside us screaming “Ah-porto” “Ah porto” “Ah-porto” (In Creole, “White man”) and holding our hands, giving me many much-needed boosts!

The route through the jungle brought a sense of adventure and excitement, but the humidity intensified the sweating and exhaustion. Despite the grueling mental and physical challenge, the finish of the race did eventually come (5hrs and 6mins later!!). The atmosphere at the end was incredible, still with many excited runners, although looking considerably less healthy!

Making the run all the more worthwhile was the charity that we were running on behalf of - Street Child. Street Child of Sierra Leone was originally set up with the aim of reducing the population of children living and working on the streets of Sierra Leone following the devastating civil war. The most common cause of children having to work and live on the streets is the inability of many Sierra Leonean families to afford to care for them.

This means that one of Street Child’s most important aims is to set up families with an income that will allow them to look after their children. The organization’s success has led to growth in both the locations where it works and the projects it runs. Street Child now supports a range of projects including micro-finance, agri-business schemes, educational programmes and many more.

Billy concludes:

The work this charity has carried out, and continues, is truly exceptional, and is more than enough to encourage me to go back and race again. Despite the sweaty, chaffing, knee-shattering and generally exhausting experience, I would strongly encourage anyone and everyone to give this race a go. Moreover, if running isn’t your thing, then please sponsor me instead!!!

https://www.justgiving.com/account/your-pages/Billy-Fox1.

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Image

Billy Fox © Mark Gillett - Junglemoon Images 2014


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