Jan 7, 2009, 6:26 AM
The event nicknamed the Brufut Run started in 1994 through the enthusiasm of several passionate Gambian runners who decided to support their community through sport, primarily by mobilizing resources for assisting women horticulturalists in the purchase of seedlings and fertilizers.
Ever since, the run is themed in such a way as to bear on the socio-economic welfare of the Brufut community and increase public awareness of key development issues relevant for the country as a whole.
There has been a run against the spread of HIV/Aids, deforestation, malaria, illegal migration, drugs and alcohol abuse; for a clean environment, accelerated industrial development or education.
In 2010 the event was themed for the second time Run against Hunger to re-echo the national call for food self-sufficiency and the fight against hunger through socio-economic development.
It was organised in collaboration with World Runners against Hunger, who have been regularly represented by athletes from abroad and is regularly supported by The Friends of The Gambia Association.
Initially handled by an ad-hoc committee the organization of the Run has experienced significant transformation and growth into a professional registered non-profit organization – the Brufut Marathon Association (BMA) - the members of which all work on a voluntary non-profit basis.
Thanks to the generosity of its partners the event has experienced a significant success over the years.
Since its formation 17 years ago, the Brufut Marathon Association has been able to gradually increase the interest of the Gambian public for long distance running. The run has experienced significant growth in terms of the distance covered, number of participating runners and mobilised resources year after year.
Covering initially a stretch of 8km in 1994 - 1998, the length of the run increased gradually to 10km (1999 - 2007), 15km (2008-2010) up to 21km as currently planned for 2011.
The increasing distance was paralleled by a growing number of participating athletes with an average participation of 200 – 350 runners annually, both from The Gambia and abroad.
Similarly, the Brufut Marathon Association was successful in gradually increasing the amounts of funds raised through theme based donations, fundraising events and long term partnerships, reaching a peak of 150,000 Dalasis in 2007. In addition to ad hoc contributions BMA secures core funding amounting to 50,000 Dalasis annually.
Funds have been regularly secured through donations from private companies, the Government, prominent Gambians, individual philanthropists, fundraising side-events as well as membership and participation fees.
Underscoring the success of the Brufut Run are the ample opportunities it gives to inspiring young athletes to excel and to showcase their talents both domestically and abroad. Most notable among them are Ansu Sowe, Jay Secka, Sanu Gomez and Mariama T. Jallow, all of whom have become national athletes of high standards.
With support of Gambian businesses and the Government they were given the opportunity to build on their achievements and start a successful career in long distance running, receiving athletic scholarships at universities abroad and serving as proud ambassadors of The Gambia internationally.
In the years to come, the Association plans to organise the first 42km
Reflecting the current success trend and increasing organizational capacity of the association is our growing ability to enhance the socio-economic development and human well-being of the Brufut community by supporting several mutually linked development objectives: from helping fight hunger, supporting school attendance to improving essential health care for its most vulnerable members.
For 2011 we have set an ambitious goal to raise 1 million Dalasis (US $ 34,000) of which we plan to allocate 80% to community development through three components of intervention: food security, education and health. The remainder of the proceeds will be used to cover the vital logistical effort for organizing the 2011 Brufut Run, including all relevant side-activities and promotion.
In order to ensure accountability, transparency and effectiveness of donated funds, specific funding windows have been designated to enable support for each development and logistics component through concrete activities and specific budget estimates. These will give interested donors possible funding options to pick their desired type of intervention; allow for tracking of allocated donations as well as enable the actual impact made in the community to be measured. In addition to that, the public is invited to sponsor any athlete who wants to support any individual charity of his choice through the run.
The organisation of the 21km half-Marathon and the supplementary short distance runs in 2011 will require a major increase of logistical effort and devoted resources on part of BMA, greatly outpacing the organisation of the event from previous years.
Given the scale of this year’s Run, the funds devoted to a good organisation of the entire event are envisaged to peak to GMD 200,000 (US$ 7,000). This will be paralleled with an increase in voluntary manpower and involved stakeholders to ensure that the welfare and security of the participants and the public are adequately and professionally catered for.