A collaboration between the Brufut Marathon Association in western Gambia and Friends of the Gambia Association, a UK registered charity, has allowed two runners to make successful inroads on the UK racing scene. As winners of last year's Brufut half marathon, Mariama T. Jallow and Lamin Sanneh were awarded an invitation to compete in the UK and, since then, have taken full advantage by setting two national records.
The duo, both from the Gambian Police force, were initially invited to take part in Sheffield half marathon in May. Impressively, Mariama and Lamin managed fourth place finishes in their respective categories and in the process set new national records with times of 1:22:08 and 1:11:23. Following this, the pair have broken their national records over 10k, with Mariama completing the Great Manchester Run in (37:27) and Lamin taking second place in Sunday's Forth Bridge 10K with a time of (33:35).
With assistance from the Gambians in Scotland Community Association (GAMSCA), Inspiring Gambians and cooperation from his employers, Lamin has enjoyed an extended stay in Scotland. Over the course of the last couple of months, Lamin has used his time to meet with other elite athletes, learning new techniques, nutritional advice and ways to improve performance through engineered training.
This, plus competing in events across the UK, has been with a view to passing on the information when he returns home and to help develop the Brufut Running Club and distance running in The Gambia. Lamin has also been offered the opportunity to visit the Glasgow Commonwealth Games venues with a view to assisting the Gambian team as they prepare for 2014.
He hopes to return to Scotland next year and compete in the Commonwealth Games marathon for his country. As it stands, the country has only one medal to its name, with Sheikh Teejan Faye securing bronze in the High Jump in Edinburgh, 43 years ago.
The Brufut Run was established in 1994 is one of the most popular running events in West Africa and organisers are hopeful of staging a full marathon by 2015. The Brufut Marathon Association (BMA) is a registered non-profit making organisation engaged in seeking funds to help socio-economic development and community projects in the area.
Partners of the run hope to use the event as a blue print for the development of distance running in The Gambia. For further details on BMA and to see how you can help or enter, visit their official website. You can also follow Lamin's progress on his Facebook page.