Everyone wants to be associated with the Kilimanjaro Marathon being the biggest and most awaited international sporting event in Tanzania courtesy of the main sponsors, Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL) Group, through Kilimanjaro Premium Lager brand.
The firm has been backing the race for 18 years. Tigo and Grand Malt once again played a vital role in their respective race category sponsorship.
Immediately after Christmas and New Year festivities, the next big event is usually the Kilimanjaro Marathon which happens around either the end of February or early March.
This year the event took place on March 1, 2020 and attracted more than 11,000 participants.
The race drew nearly triple number of local and foreign spectators in and out of the Moshi Cooperatives University venue where the event took place.
Participants took part in the mighty Kilimanjaro Premium Lager 42km race, Tigo 21km event and the Grand Malt 5km Fun Run.
Kilimanjaro Premium Lager 18-year sponsorship
The Kilimanjaro Marathon was first held in 2003 and started with the 10km Fun Run (in subsequent years switched to 5km) where the organizers and a few other participants just ran for fun, plus 21km and 42km events.
TBL Group was interested to sponsor the race from the word go and the company has since then seen the race grow to one of the most attended and followed events in and out of the country.
A 10km race for persons with disabilities was also introduced for a number of years but was later dropped for lack of sponsorship.
The Kilimanjaro Premium Lager Brand Manager, Irene Mutiganzi, said they have been there since the race’s inception because of the people.
She disclosed the event has year in year out been bringing them closer to their consumers and with time the event has become international with over 58 nationalities battling it out in it and in the process making the face hugely popular.
“It is because of the strong linkage with our consumers that we have been keen to maintain this sponsorship for 18 years now,” she said.
She noted the organizers have also been consistent and always conformed with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) regulations hence making the sponsors comfortable.
“This is an IAAF accredited event hence all the important aspects are considered and this to us is key,” she disclosed.
Irene is also happy that the 42km race has become very popular over the years, pointing out entries have been selling out completely nearly two weeks before the deadline.
“We had over 800 runners this year in the 42km race and this to us was quite an achievement because the race has become very popular and it clearly indicates how most people are now determined about healthy living,” she noted.
She pointed out they set aside 23m/- as cash prizes for top 10 winners and the first Tanzanians in the male and female category.
She disclosed she is grateful to all Tanzanians who made it happen as without them there would be no event.
She pointed out sponsors are also glad that this year, some Tanzanians featured among the winners in the 42km and 21km races compared to the previous years where the races were dominated by foreign runners.
“We saw entries running out and this tells us how popular the event has become but people did not lose hope. They still came to have fun and cheered their colleagues plus enjoying the interludes of entertainment through the Kili Dome and at the stadium all of which were brought to them courtesy of Kilimanjaro Premium Lager,” she noted.
She pointed out they have been keen throughout the years to ensure there is popular entertainment that appeals to all.
Besides running, participants and spectators always look forward to the musical entertainment Kilimanjaro Marathon has to offer and it is a big attraction since they know apart from running, they will get treated with something extra as they enjoy their cold beers.
Among artistes who coloured this year’s event include Faustina Charles ‘Nandy’, George Mdemu ‘G-Nako’, Maua Sama, Marian Mdee ‘Mimi Mars’ and Omary Mwanga ‘ Marioo’ who together kept the huge crowd on their feet as they took to the stage at the Kili Dome and after the marathon at MoCU venue.
Irene noted they look forward to a much bigger event next year as the government has already promised to improve on the infrastructure in order to have wider roads that will accommodate more runners.
“This way the entries will not close early and we will have more people,” she disclosed.
The efficiency of Tigo Pesa
Entries closed two weeks before the announced deadlines as capacity was reached and the event could not accommodate any more participants.
The Tigo Corporate Communications Manager, Woinde Shisael, attributed this to most Tanzanians making use of Tigo Pesa to register and pay for the entries.
Tigo Pesa is one of the revolutionaries that Tigo has made in the registration process that saw the cumbersome paper work abandoned hence registration becoming faster.
“This saw the entries close two weeks before the deadline as the organizers could not accommodate any more runners. This is an IAAF accredited race hence there is need to adhere to the rules,” she disclosed.
She noted she is glad that Tanzanians have adopted a healthy living mentality and since Tigo took over participation in the 21km race has increased by over 100 percent as five years ago there were hardly 2000 runners in the 21km race.
” This year’s race was graced by non-other than the guest of honour himself the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Hamisi Kigwangalla (MP), who ran the full 21km course and finished despite the hilly terrain,” she added.
Woinde disclosed with improved road infrastructure, they are sure that the Tigo 21km race will get more participants and possibly double the current 5,500.
“More people would like to participate hence this will give them a good chance as we will have lots of extra entry forms as long as key sections of the roads are widened,’’ she noted.
Another achievement that Tigo boasts of, according to Woinde, is that the 21km race now features many Tanzanians among top 10.
She mentioned some of the runners as Joseph Panga, Felix Simbu, Emmanuel Giniki, Magdalena Shauri, Sarah Ramadhani, and Failuna Abdi who have recently made the brand proud by winning the race.
The telecommunication firm set aside a total of 11m/- as cash prize for the top 10 winners in the male and female category.
“They have gone ahead to do well in other international races like the London Marathon, Cape town Marathon and Tokyo Marathon,” she noted.
5 km Fun Run
The Grand Malt Brand Manager, Silvanus Mazula, pointed out this year they attracted more than 5000 runners who had lots of fun as they were led by a couple of leaders including the Minister for Information, Culture, Art and Sports, Harrison Mwakyembe (MP).
“People from all walks of life and different ages made us proud this year once again as they turned out in numbers and consumed their Grand Malt as they ran and walked during the 5km Fun Run,” he disclosed.
He pointed out the Fun Run has helped in enhancing healthy lifestyles among all the age groups as the race includes children and older people just like the drink itself, which can be consumed by all people regardless of their age.
Two ministers colour the event
This year’s Kilimanjaro Premium Lager Marathon was quite different as for the first time, it had two ministers in attendance.
Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Hamisi Kigwangalla was the guest of honour and he also took part in the Tigo 21km race and finished the race while Mwakyembe was the host.
They came with a mission- to promote sports tourism. This was greatly accomplished as the two ministers agreed to work together to attract sports tourism in order to generate more foreign exchange for the country.
“We will talk to our colleagues in government to ensure that the road infrastructure is improved by expanding the roads which are currently narrow and can only accommodate a certain number of participants yet there are many other people who want to participate hence more tourists as well,” Kigwangalla disclosed.
He said his ministry will work closely with the event organizers to ensure more success and that the number of participants and tourists go up.
On his part, Mwakyembe pledged support to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and emphasizes on the need for other organizers to emulate the Kilimanjaro Premium Lager Marathon and its efforts to promote sports and tourism thus boosting revenues.
He heaped praises on the race organizers and sponsors in particular Kilimanjaro Premium Lager as well as Tigo and Grand Malt in addition to water table sponsors for a hugely successful event.
The minister also praised the organizers Kilimanjaro Marathon Company and race coordinators Executive Solutions Ltd for a well-organized marathon.
“We will work very closely with my colleague Kigwangalla to ensure this is achieved by among others things pushing for extension of the roads to ensure that more participants can safely be accommodated by the organizers,” he disclosed.
He said the Kilimanjaro Premium Lager Marathon is a major international event.