Olympic champion Joshua Cheptegei yesterday excited hundreds of fans who turned up at Kigambira for the Run In The Wild activities.
This was after the athlete flagged off the the hundreds of runners who had gathered at the start point at inaugural Kigambira marathon in South Western Uganda.
Later, the celebrity runner took on a 10 kilometer challenge as guest runner.
Other participants included Mbarara City North Member of Parliament, Robert Mwesigwa Rukaari and Kigambira safari lodge proprietor Brig Charles Bakahumura.
“Along the way, I met some runners and I decided to run at their pace. We had an interesting conversation and I gave them tips on how they can become future champions,” Cheptegei, who was accompanied by his Coach Benjamin Njia, joked after the marathon.
“I enjoyed myself today and will return for the next Run in the Wild,” the UTB brand ambassador added.
One of the local runners praised the event organisers.
“Such initiatives should be held quite often. I crossed the finish line before a World Champion and that for me is all I ever dreamt about. I did not win the Shs 1 million, but I will forever cherish this moment,” he said.
Shs 1 million was the cash prize for the winner of the 10km run, alongside several other prizes.
“The marathon was organised to promote conservation in Lake Mburo National Park. We also wanted to awaken the desire of Ugandans to visit our game parks to enjoy their country after months of lockdown. Kigambira Safari lodge also reminds Ugandans to own their country and protect their national treasures,” the event organiser Mike Ssegawa said, adding “Working with champion Joshua, we are able to raise awareness about conservation, sustainable development, tourism and sports talent.”
The marathon, was organised by Kigambira Safari Lodge in partnership with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) and proceeds from the run will support beekeeping communities in Lake Mburo National Park which are being funded by Kigambira Safari Lodge which is owned by Karungi Crown Entreprises Ltd.
Lake Mburo National Park is the smallest of the 10 national parks in the country.
But what the 370 square kilometre park lacks in size, it makes up with its rich variety of plants and animals such as the eland, impala, buffaloes, hippos, warthogs, giraffes and klipspringers. It is believed to be home to the highest concentration of leopards and is also home to the largest population of zebras in Uganda.