Amani Festival’s Ekiden marathon took place this Sunday in the centre of Goma. A large number of teams from around the region took part. As is the case each year, the aim was to promote cohesion, team spirit and comradery.
It is 7am in Goma, a group of people are gathered next to the Signers roundabout. Teams from businesses, sports clubs, humanitarian workers, and running enthusiasts are geared up for the start of the race. There are around sixty teams, of six people, present for this 42km relay race.
Nathalia Michevic is a part of the “La Croquette” team. For this young Frenchwoman, who is new to town, the marathon is an opportunity to familiarize herself with the festival which promotes diversity, peace and coexistence. Gervais Paluku and Yves Bahati on the other hand, are regulars at Ekiden. These two Goma youths dream of one day winning the marathon. This Sunday they did not succeed, but they are already preparing themselves for next year’s edition. “With every passing year, I am more motivated”, says Gervais.
A team from Gisenyi wins
This Sunday, it is the Gisenyi Athletics masculine team and the Kirotshe feminine team who win the marathon. They each receive $400 from the Amani Festival, as well as numerous prizes from sponsors. Felix Uwimana is a member Gisenyi Athletics, for this young man from Rwanda, winning “this marathon is a reminder that no challenge is unsurmountable”.
Esperance Bandu is the fastest woman at this year’s Ekiden. For this 18-year-old from Kirotshe in South Kivu, winning this marathon is just a first step. She dreams of representing the DRC at the 2020 Olympics in Toyko, Japan.
The organizers are planning to hold this event next year as well. “It is a strong moment of conviviality”, highlights the Festival director, Guillaume Bisimwa. So, see you next February!