Interview with an Expert: Running Clubs in Uganda

Running clubs aren’t as prevalent in Uganda as you might expect. Here we talk to Nsubuga Emmanuel (Emma, pictured below) from Masaka, a small town in southwest Uganda. Emma set up the Masaka Runners Club (MRC) earlier this year. The town’s first running club is already proving popular, here Emma tells us why running is so important to his community and the day to day obstacles for runners in Uganda.


Why did you start MRC?

I started this club in order to use running as a disease therapy. Through daily physical exercises, this will enable the community to improve on their daily healthy conditions and reduce on medical insurance costs. For example running improves on cardiovascular health and this reduces high risks of heart diseases. This club will be used as part of an overall strategy to reduce and prevent crime. This is to be achieved through organised evening and weekend running schedules especially targeting adolescents

By making them busy to avoid idleness especially after school or work, this will help them do away with unnecessary habits like gambling, drug abuse among others which may result into crime.

I am planning to use this club as a strategy to develop team work spirit among members. We share ideas after the run or before. MRC emphasises much on team work spirit. That’s why our motto goes, Together we can go far. In case one of our member gets stuck we have to join our hands and save him including the cheerleader.

How many members does MRC have?

We have 27 members that registered with us in the first two months we we started, but we still have hopes for other members our target is 10000 members.

What running abilities are the members of MRC?


How often do you run together?

Two times a week (Tuesday and Thursday) but we hope to extend our schedule to four days a week.


Why do you think there wasn’t a running club in Masaka before you started MRC?

People lack information about the rational of making exercises in their daily life. Poor government policies in Masaka, there’s is not much emphasis on sports activities especially in schools.

Why do you think running isn’t popular in Uganda?

Because we have not many running cubs in Uganda. The climate also sometimes hinders some exercises that is to say hilly areas and high altitude. Lack of sports education in schools, lack of running equipments like shoes, pants, shirts (very expensive) among others.

Do you think international running events in Uganda has encouraged Ugandans to run more?

It has indeed. It has encouraged many of us to improve on our fitness. To emphasise on this, Masaka runners club is one of the fruits of the Uganda marathon.

How has your own running improved since MRC?

My own running has improved a lot. Coz I can manage to run a full marathon now, I can manage to calculate my distance, I can manage to lead my team and track new safe routes for my members.

How has running changed your life?

I breathe well after a fantastic training. I make new friends in the runners Club and friends for life. I have lost weight from 64kg to 60 kg which is a great achievement. Am physically fit nowadays. Running has made me smart and many ideas. Am no longer bored on my day off coz I have somewhere to go, that is to run with friends. I have discovered new places during tracking of new routes.


What do you enjoy most about running?

I didn’t have any idea of being an athlete but I am very grateful that am now one of the fastest runners around town. I make many friends for life. It has made me discover new places where I have never been before like the pine ridge such a beautiful view.

Would you like to take part in a marathon in Uganda?

Yes I will coz its good for the body. And am planning to organise my team to compete for marathons in Uganda after all these fantastic trainings I feel much ready.

Are running clothes and shoes easily accessible and affordable in Uganda?

Well, not really!! It’s one of our biggest challenges in Uganda and am pretty sure that it’s one of the issues that stop people from trainings coz they have no equipments. We have few sports shops in masaka and very expensive and not durable. When we sensitive people some usually give an excuse that they lack equipments.

Why do you think running in Uganda is so special?

Running is so special because it brings people together. It is a kind of an exercise which is very cheap and doesnt need much coaching.

What is the most challenging thing about running in Uganda?

First of all the unsafe roads and without security lights for people who wish to run at night. The. High altitude and too much hills is also a big challenge in Uganda. Lack of proper coaching from experts of running. Running costumes and lack of sensitization in the field of sports

Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about MRC?

Am planning to set up small projects under this club especially charities, I just need your prayers. I also need some coaching coz I usually lead my team.

Masaka Runners Club Oyee!! Oyee!!! “Run together and go far”

Thank you Emma!

Emma and the Masaka Runners Club runners are currently training for the spectacular Running the Rift Marathon in western Uganda in November. You can join them by entering on the website.