HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – on Friday the 21st of February the Somaliland National Stadium in Hargeisa became truly cosmopolitan as citizens of all ages and genders from 14 countries mingled together.
This was courtesy of the now annual Somaliland Marathon dubbed Dahabshil Somaliland Marathon 2020 which attracted an international participation of 350 runners among them 30 from Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Apart from locals who were the majority visiting participants came from New Zealand, Australia ,japan Denmark, Norway , France , South Africa , United Kingdom and the USA while six others are expatriates living and working in Hargeisa
As since inception the Somaliland Marathon had events being the 42km marathon and the 10km race whose start and finishing point was the Somaliland National Stadium.
The 42km Marathon which had the largest number of participants was an only male affair with the three top spots taken by local competitors namely Winner Mohamed Husserin Ahmed , runner up Mustafa Abdiqadir Mohamed and third was Abdilahi Aden Farah. Most poignant of this race was the fourth spot taken by a Japanese runner who was among a group of three from the far eastern country.
The 10km race was won by Said Farah Omar with Abdiqani Hamud and Yahye Mahmud Ibrahim coming in second and third respectively.
Of interest was the 10km women race that attracted 60 participants as well as bulk of foreign runners that was won by Hana Muktar followed by Hamda Abdi Dahir and Iido Rush Arab all youthful locals and first time participants.
The Event sponsored by Dahabshil group of companies, Sagal jet, Dasani water also ensued with the nine winners receiving hefty awards including medals and cash prizes.
Dahabshil contributed $800, $500 and $300 to 42kms race winners with both female and male winners of the 10kms event received $600 , $400 and $250 each respectively while Sajal jet awarded all the nine winners medals.
While Dasani water saw to it that bottled water was in plenty for all not only at the stadium but along the entire marathon route, Edna Adan Hospital which is a full partner to the Somaliland marathon had 30 medical professionals distributed along the entire route as well as inside the stadium proper.
Thanking participants, Volunteers, organizers and members of the public for their full support the Somaliland minister of youth and sports said that the government is committed to ensuring that the event in its third year becomes a permanent fixture in the country’s sporting calendar.
Representing the Dahabshiil group of companies was Hibo Mohamed Warsame the sales and marketing manager of the group’s Hyundai cars sales department revealed that Dahabshiil shall continue to fully support activities of the Somaliland Marathon as part of its corporate responsibility agenda.
“most importantly is the desire to see that youthful Somalilanders have avenues to not only compete locally but instill a hunger for aspirations to international arenas” said Ms. Hibo adding that top and world beating athletes in long distances are from neighbnouring Ethiopia and Kenya thence Somaliland can do it too if opportunities are made possible.
Thanking event organizers, partners, sponsors and participants was chairman of Darlington Gacmadheere Foundation the beneficiary charity organization Prof Eid Ahmed while revealing that the foundation appreciates contributions from the marathon that have made it possible to increase the number of university scholarships to needy bright Somaliland students.
Along with being a great opportunity to compete in this unrecognized country in the Horn of Africa nation, participants also support the work of the Darlington Gacmadheere Foundation, a British-based charity which promotes and supports the education of students in Somaliland;
“The Somaliland Marathon now in its third consecutive year welcomes all runners, regardless of sex, creed, colour, or national origin and aims to promote sport in Somaliland through the organisation of an annual marathon and 10km race in the capital, Hargeisa”
This is according to Olly Sills who adds that “As well as encouraging more Somalis to participate in sport, the marathon will showcase this wonderful and hospitable country to visiting foreign athletes, while assisting needy and bright Somaliland students nurtured by Darlington Gacmadheere Foundation.
Olly Sills who is brains behind the founding of the marathon also acts as the annual events Liaison Manager and represents the Darlington Gacmadheere Foundation, the main charity partner of the Marathon of Somaliland, and has a strong family connection to Richard Darlington, (Gacmadheere) who gave up much of his adult life to the field of education in Somaliland. Olly has visited Hargeisa and travelled around the surrounding area. He has also just completed an Ironman triathlon.
The youthful Briton is incidentally the son of Mr. Richard Sills and Dr.Susan Sills who are treasury and secretary respectively of the Darlington Gacmadheere Foundation and currently in Hargeisa fir the event.
Though he has been involved in the marathon from inception in 2015 all the way to first event in 2018 the glory moment for Olly Sills was seeing his mother Dr.Susan Sills “not only take part in but completely the women’s 10km race” “this alone has not only rejuvenated my ambitions for the Somaliland marathon but added an impetus to my personal morale” says Olly who aspires to traversing the entire country in pursuit of popularizing the event thence increasing local participation.
To partner Olly Sills in founding the Somaliland Marathon in 2015 and its local logistics officer is Ahmed Mohamed Ali who is a Hargeisa born UK citizen who went to school in Cardiff before joining University of Salford where he garnered a master’s degree in chemistry. Ahmad now lives and works in Hargeisa, where he, along with other investors, established the first cooking oil company in Somaliland. Ahmad is an active charity partner of the Darlington Gacmadheere Foundation .
This year’s huge participation by women both locals and foreigners is credited to Asma Saed who is Women’s Liaison Officer for the Somaliland marathon.
Asma was raised in Hargeisa, Somaliland, where she now works as Head of Finance for a research company. She loves sports and is a community motivator for women’s participation, providing support to women and girls looking to improve their health, nutrition and physical activity levels. She co-founded the Somaliland Lions Women’s Football Initiative and has organized matches across Hargeisa.
The company behind logistics for all foreigners participating in the Somaliland Marathon is Untamed Borders.
Founded by James Willcox who is Somaliland Marathon Travel & Logistics Partner, Untamed Borders is an adventure travel company providing unparalleled access to some of the world’s most interesting and inaccessible places. The company specializes in trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, former Soviet Central Asia, the Caucasus, Middle East and East Africa but also arrange bespoke trips to other off-the-beaten-track destinations.
The race director and deputy who assisted by the above officers and a large pool of local volunteers as well as ministry of youth and sports personnel are Enda Nevin and Savannah Simons.
Enda, The Race Director, is from Ireland, has lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he worked as a project manager for an international organisation. He has travelled extensively through the horn of Africa and has run two marathons in Beirut, one in 2016 and the other in 2017, raising funds to build a playground in a Palestinian refugee camp and a community centre in a temporary settlement for Syrian refugees. Enda works and lives in Beirut. He was logistics and procurement manager for an International Non-Governmental Organisation and is currently working with the UN in Beirut. He has been based there for the last tree and half years.
Savannah Simons the Deputy Race Director has lived and worked for a Somali organisation in Hargeisa for over 3 years. In Somaliland, she co-founded the Lions Women’s Football Initiative and organised community events including Activity and Sports Days. Previously ranked in the top 100 for GB tennis, she works at sporting events including Wimbledon and the French Open. She is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Behaviour Change, with a view of applying behavioural insights to participation in sport.
All eyes are in 2021 a year in which main sponsors Dahabshiil group of companies has promised more input while organizers utilizing lessons learned from the three events now aspire to bringing onboard world beating marathoners .