Thousands run. Many briskly walked or jogged as soon the race started. While hundreds did not break any sweat and instead stood in awe.
The 10th edition of the Airtel-sponsored Kabaka Birthday Run was proclaimed as the biggest ever staged in Uganda, with more than 100,000 tickets sold as the loyalists braved an overnight Sunday morning shower to pace around Buganda’s capital, Mengo in Kampala.
The mass participation race, which offers no prizes and official timing, concluded on Sunday as Kabaka Ronald Muwenda II celebrated his 68th birthday.
Held at multiple venues across the headquarters of the 18 counties that make up Buganda Kingdom, the combined number would comfortably eclipse the 52,812 people who finished the 2018 New York Marathon, the current record for a marathon.
David Birungi, the Public Relations Manager at Airtel Uganda said the event is key to bringing key health messages to the people of Uganda.
“The Kabaka Birthday Run is a beacon of light. We hope this encourages people to go out and know their HIV/Aids status. We are also happy for the big turn up. We hope it’s a great moment people can continue looking forward to,” Birungi said.
Over the 10 years, the Run has grown in prominence though the door has been left wide open for elite runners.
The testing time was during the Covid-19 pandemic when races were run virtually alongside a skeletal number that was allowed to join the Kabaka in his Mengo Palace.
Putting ourselves to the test
Started in 2013, the Run has tackled health issues like fistula and sickle cell disease in the past. The Run is now focused on the fight against HIV/Aids following Kabaka’s Appointment as Africa’s Goodwill Ambassador in the fight against the AIDS epidemic by UNAIDS.
The Kabaka, who looked strong, emphasised accountability among his subjects and taking necessary action in his brief remarks.
“We renew our commitment to supporting the wellbeing of those with HIV, as well as those at risk for infection. Everyone should get tested for HIV and know their status,” the Kabaka said before flagging off the race.
The third Sustainable Development Goal (SDG-3) has a target to end the epidemic of HIV/Aids by 2030. This will be achieved when the number of new HIV infections and ‘Aids-related deaths’ decline by 90 per cent between 2010 and 2030.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.
I&M Bank steps in
I&M Bank joined thousands of runners Sunday morning for the Kabaka Birthday Run as it reinforced its commitment to supporting social causes and giving back to society.
The bank’s staff joined thousands of other runners to contribute to the cause, demonstrating I&M’s commitment to being part of the fabric of the communities it serves and making a positive impact in people’s lives.
I&M Bank Uganda launched its operations in Uganda in November 2021 following the acquisition of Orient Bank.
Speaking about the bank’s participation in the event, the Ag. Managing Director, Sam Ntulume said the Kabaka Birthday Run was an excellent opportunity for I&M to contribute to a worthy cause.
“We are proud to be a part of the Kabaka Birthday Run and to support such an important cause. Our participation in this event is a reflection of our commitment to our customers and the communities we work with,” said Ntulume.
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