2023 Berlin Marathon: 22 Ugandans share stage with Kiplimo, Kipchoge

Team Uganda pose for a picture at their send-off party in Kampala. PHOTO/COURTSEY 

What you need to know:

As per World Olympics, over 800 marathons of 42kms are organised every year, but only six including Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City carry the title of World Marathon Major.

Sunday in Berlin is mostly about Eliud Kipchoge, the Kenyan and world marathon legend. 

At the 2023 Berlin Marathon, he will be competing against himself. Make no mistake, compatriots like Amos Kipruto and Jonathan Maiyo, the two runners on the start list with the closest times to Kipchoge, will relish the opportunity to push him.

But in Berlin, Kipchoge rules. It is in Berlin where he won four out of five marathons, claiming two world records along the way.

His current world record came in 2022, when he ran 2:01:09, lowering his 2018 world mark by 30 seconds.

On Sunday, September 24, 2023, he will be at it again, pushing the limits.

No human is limited

Among those helping Kipchoge push his mantra of “no human is limited” will be Uganda’s long-distance runner Jacob Kiplimo.

Kiplimo, 22, is back after recovering from injury that ruled him out of the Budapest World Athletics Championships last month. 

The two-time Commonwealth champion, Kiplimo - also the current world record holder and champion over the half-marathon distance, will pace the elite field led by Berlin reigning king Kipchoge over the 42km distance.

This will be the second time that Kiplimo, who is soon expected to debut over a full marathon, is a pacer for Kipchoge. 

Kiplimo was part of the 41 pacemakers for Kipchoge during the successful INEOS Challenge in Vienna, Austria in 2019.

Greatness within

While Kiplimo could be the only elite Ugandan runner you will see, he is not all that the Pearl of Africa has to offer. 

Privileged to share the stage with greatness  are 22 other runners from Uganda, who are inspired to continue searching for their own greatness inside them by running these prestigious races.

The group from Uganda was prepared by Team Matooke, a popular running club that organises regular monthly runs (21-42 kms) from Kampala to Entebbe.

These non-elite Ugandans may have a chance to glance at Kiplimo and Kipchoge before and after the race, for the latter pair will be out of sight as soon as the start-gun goes off.

But in Kipchoge’s encouraging words “no human is limited,” they - all running 42kms in Berlin - will be with the legend throughout their race. 

These Ugandans include those in their early days of marathon running and those that have even run in other World Marathon Majors and the famous Comrades Race in South Africa.

Evelyn Mulinda Okecho, for example, ran her first full marathon in July this year when she participated in the 50kms Great Escarpment Run in Hoima.

“I used Hoima as a testing ground for the Berlin Marathon because of similar terrains - all road and more or less flat route,” she told the Daily Monitor.

Four months earlier, Mrs. Mulinda had run the 2023 Kilimanjaro Marathon, and a year before she completed the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathons. She ran in the 21kms category for both.

“So, for me it’s been a gradual build up to a full marathon with trail runs in between to spice up my running,” shared Mulinda, a wife and mother of three.

After running the Berlin Marathon on Sunday, she will do this year’s Nairobi Marathon next month for yet another 42kms.

Why run?

Mulinda, in her 40s, started taking running seriously last year when she signed up for distances beyond 10kms, including the Source of the Nile Run, where she did 25kms, among others.

“The friendships developed along the way kept pushing me to do a bit more each time and here we are,” the former president of the Rotary Club Of Kampala Naalya added. But what pushed her into running?

“I really started running to clear my head and think through work,” she explained, “I’m a marketer with a strong leaning in research and business intelligence.

“I deal with data and information every day and when my brain gets overloaded in trying to find solutions or get the story out of the data I run.

“And when I get back from the road I either have a fresh perspective or solution.”

Mulinda says this is now a lifestyle. “So today I run to start my day before the rest of the world awakes. As I run I think through and plan my day.” Her ambition is to complete all major World Majors. 

According to the World Olympics website, over 800 marathons of 42kms are organised every year.

But only six including Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City Marathons carry the title of World Marathon Major. For Mulinda, it will be one down on Sunday!

Team Uganda (Team Matooke) at Berlin Marathon

1. Ronald Amega

2. Juliet Evelyn Bataringaya

3. Daniel Musaasizi Bbosa

4. Tony Eddie Balega

5. Roger Izimba

6. Ronald Kanyike

7. Herman Kasekende

8. Agnes Kasule

9. Patricia Kamungalo

10. Newton Mbaziira

11. Noelina Edith Mulokwa

12. John Musiime

13. Ronald Namugera

14. Henry Nsubuga

15. Evelyn Nyaburu Mulinda Okecho

16. Robert Bellarmine Okudi

17. Albert Marvin Onyia

18. Tony Ssali

19. Robert Mukasa Ssozi

20. Girum Fisseha

21. Reuben Tumwine

22. Nathan Elly Ssebadduka