Sierra Leone Marathon
At Coworkation we like travelling. We like spending time with inspiring people. We like being healthy. And we like doing good. This is exactly why we have teamed up with the NGO Street Child to run through Sierra Leone!
CHALLENGE – run 5km, 10km, 21km or a full marathon.
EXPLORE – lush green landscapes,
RELAX – on stunning beaches.
VISIT – bustling markets
PLAY – football with local kids.
WITNESS – the charity’s projects.
CHANGE – children’s lives, and maybe your own!
Street Child in Sierra Leone:
In Sierra Leone, less than half of the children go to secondary school. Poverty is one of the largest barriers to education. Poor families cannot afford the cost of sending their child to school. Without hope of learning to read and write, children are stuck in cycles of poverty.
Street Child aims to break that cycle by helping parents create profitable businesses that enable their kids to be educated.
About the Run / Marathon:
Voted ‘Best International Event’ at the 2017 Running Awards the annual Sierra Leone Marathon raises funds for the Street Child projects in the country. This award-winning event is the only international marathon where runners are united behind the same fundraising goal and where you get to meet the children you are supporting by running it. It’s a unique and truly special event that brings participants together in running 5 km, 10km, a half or full marathon.
About the Trip:
Participants visit the different villages and causes around Sierra Leone that are directly being helping with the money raised via the marathon. See the ‘itinerary’ tab below for more details.
Coworkation for a Cause
This is a non-profit event. 100% of the money raised goes to Street Child in support of their projects in Sierra Leone.
Day 1 – VILLAGES & SCHOOLS
Explore Sierra Leone’s lush green landscape on your way to one of Street Child’s projects in a remote rural community. Play with the children who are now in school thanks to Street Child, and learn about the work being done to rebuild schools and train teachers.
Day 2 – MARKETS & BUSINESSES
Discover charming towns, wander markets and visit the businesses that Street Child has helped build, meeting the parents who can now afford to send their kids to school.
Day 3 – WORKSHOPS & FOOTBALL
Join a workshop with the Street Child team on-the-ground to learn more about the work that they are doing. Then, football like you have never witnessed before, played by the local amputee football teams. At night, exactly what is needed the night before a long run… a pasta party!
DAY 4 – SCENERY & STRUGGLE
Do something you never imagined doing… run through Sierra Leone! From 5km through to a marathon, the distance is up to you! Be greeted by locals and give high 5’s makes the pain all worthwhile!
DAY 5 – CHILL & BEACH
If you ever deserved to relax on a stunning white sand beach, this is the moment!
DAY 6/7 (OPTIONAL) – COWORKING DAYS
Extend your stay and spend two days catching up on work, relaxing, enjoying and connecting in a beautiful resort on the beach of Tokeh. Look out to the sea in front, or mountains beside, from beside the pool or stunning restaurant.
Sierra Leone’s charm extends far beyond award-winning races. It’s stunning tropical coast is a little-known treasure and the perfect way to reward your marathon efforts. Join us for an extra two days of rest and relaxation (or catch up on some work) at The Place in Tokeh. With panoramic views of either sea or mountain, a stunning restaurant, untouched sand and a refreshing pool you won’t want to leave! £100-120 per night, per double room.
Last year’s runners told us that the hardest part of the trip was having to tear themselves away from this tropical paradise and head back to the office after race day so avoid the disappointment and book yourself in for an extra two nights of picture-perfect holiday. Given that the Sierra Leone Marathon package is set to officially end on Monday 28th May after the beach party, the beach add-on gives you the option of staying in this beautiful beach town until Wednesday 30th May!
Q Where does the race take place?
A All distances whether the marathon, half marathon, 10k and 5k will take place around a city called Makeni, the economic centre of northern Sierra Leone and the capital of Bombali District. It lies about 120 miles east (a 2-3 hour drive) of Freetown.
Q What is the route?
A We are changing the route this year but for an idea of the kind of landscapes you will be passing through, check out our Marathon Day page.
Q When does the race take place?
A Races will start early to avoid the worst of the sun, usually around 6am.
Q What is the terrain like?
A The Sierra Leone Marathon will be run on both urban and rural roads. The majority of these are hard-packed mud roads, but also some tarmac. The route will take in some of the most beautiful scenery of Northern Sierra Leone.
Q How can I register?
A You can register for the 2018 race here.
Q Who is managing the race?
A An experienced team of Street Child’s UK and local staff will be organising the event along with other volunteers from UK and Sierra Leone.
Q I’m not a runner but still want to go, can I volunteer?
A Yes! We have lots of opportunities for non-runners. This year you can walk, jog or run any of the distances. We are also offering the option to become a Race Day Volunteer. Example tasks include; helping on the start /finish area giving out medals or recording results, manning the water stations, helping the medical team or assisting with transport. You will still go on the amazing project visits and travel this incredible country with the rest of the runners. It will be on days 3 and 4 when you would be asked to join the operational team, helping in the preparation and smooth running of this spectacular event.
Q What facilities will be available en route?
– Regular water stations (some with with rehydration sachet/drinks)
– Fixed and mobile medical support
– Live music at certain points
Q How should I prepare for the race?
A See our Training page for more information.
Q How much do I need to raise to be eligible to take part?
A Other than covering your costs to take part, we ask that you raise as much as you can! Every participant is required to fundraise a minimum of £1000 per person. Street Child’s experienced fundraising team and mentors will work with each participant to ensure they reach and go beyond this target. Part of participants’ experience will be seeing where their money will be going and meeting some of the children we have already helped.
Q How much of my package goes towards the charity?
A The cost of your package covers the cost of your accommodation, transport, food and race costs. The charity does not make a profit on your package.
Q Where does my money go?
£10 can provide a school uniform
£30 can send a child to primary school for a year.
£100 can provide textbooks for a whole classroom of children in a rural school.
£250 can provide a mother with a business grant and training so they can afford to send their children to school
£500 can fund training for 10 teachers and raise teaching standards
£1000 can provide all the necessary classroom furniture and resources for a village school
£2000+ Funds the construction of a first-ever temporary class-room or mini-’school’ in a rural village. It also gives us time to start work on a permanent structure which can take up to 3 years to build.
£5000+ Funds the construction of a village school with 2 classrooms for 100+ children: the first proper school that village has ever had.
Q Should I be worried about Ebola if I want to attend the marathon?
A The World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared Sierra Leone free of Ebola on 7th November 2015. The Sierra Leone Marathon is confident that the marathon poses no risk to runners in the areas we will be travelling to.
Q Will you cancel if Ebola returns to Sierra Leone?
A We will take advice – and we certainly won’t ask anyone to take unnecessary risks..
Q Are there currently flights available?
A Yes: Air Maroc, Air France, KLM and Air Brussels are all running a service at the moment. We also hope a direct UK route may open up soon. Please contact the Sierra Leone Marathon team for advice before booking your flights.
Q I’d love to come but I’m worried that I can’t afford it?
A This event is first and foremost about raising money for our critical work with vulnerable children. If you think you could raise a great amount of money we really want you there, no matter what!
Get in touch to discuss this option further.
Q How will I get around the country?
A All in-country transport is provided. This includes transport from the airport and to our project visits.
Q What will the climate be like in May 2018?
A Sierra Leone has a tropical climate, warm temperatures and high humidity. The rainy season is about to begin at the end of May. The run will be hot – but with a dawn start to avoid the worst of the heat and regular water and re-hydration stops, hopefully not too hot!
Q Do I need a visa for Sierra Leone?
A You will need a visa, unless you are from West Africa. Street Child can help organise this and once you are registered we will issue a letter of invitation to accompany a visa application form. A single entry visa costs £109 and can be obtained in person or by post from the Sierra Leone High Commission in London. Visas are valid for 3 months from date of issue. Please do not apply for visas before 1st March 2018.
Q Travel health
A See a travel nurse and doctor at least 6-8 weeks before travel. You should visit your local GP for advice if necessary. Unless you travelled recently to a similar destination it is almost certain you will need a few vaccinations. Two absolute must-haves are a vaccination certificate for yellow fever which is required for entry into the country and anti-malarial medication. Please bring your yellow fever certificate with you to Sierra Leone.
Q Travel and health insurance
A This is the responsibility of every individual runner. Make sure you are covered for sporting events of this nature and that it covers Sierra Leone. We ask that you make sure you are personally covered for your trip and will not allow you to take part in the event without travel insurance.
Q What money should I bring?
A Bring cash. Stirling notes are easily changed, as are dollars. Credit card use in Sierra Leone is very limited – worth bringing a credit/debit card strictly as a back-up only (the banks in Makeni have chip and pin machines for emergency withdrawals). Big denominations of cash get better rates – but avoid pre-2006 series Dollars as they are rejected by many businesses and some banks.
Q Where will I stay?
A We offer a range of travel packages from local guesthouses to hotels depending on your preferences. Prices start from £299 (non-inclusive of flights and visa) including all meals, in-country travel, project visits, race entry and beach BBQ.
Q What should I pack (apart from my running kit)?
- Torch and batteries.
- Umbrella and a rain coat.
- Mosquito repellent with 50% DEET.
- Favourite food and snacks
- Anti bacteria hand gel – dramatically reduces your chances of travellers tummy
- Mosquito net (a double one is recommended as there are few single beds) and a sleeping bag liner.
- Swimming costume/ shorts
- An old unlocked mobile phone – so you can buy a Sierra Leone sim and use the top up cards out here (massively cheaper than using your UK phone).
- Rehydration Salts (Dioralyte)
- Immodium – Your digestive system is likely to be a bit unsettled, prepare in advance!
- Insect bite cream.
- Antiseptic cream and plasters.
- Cards, games, activities for the evenings (electricity is not guaranteed)
- Money belt (not essential but a good idea)
TRUE TRAVELER PACKAGE
- Stay in hostel-style accommodation with shared rooms, bucket showers and electricity at night. This is for the true adventurer
- Stay in a basic Sierra Leonean hotel with refreshing bucket showers, electricity and fans. Shared accommodation available.
- Our most popular option; stay in a traditional Makeni guest house or hotel with your own private bathroom, including showers, electricity and guaranteed fan or air-conditioning. Shared accommodation available.
- For those after a little more, enjoy hot showers, electricity, WiFi, air-conditioning and a hotel swimming pool.