Somaliland is located in the Horn of Africa and proclaimed itself as a state on the 18th May, 1991. Since then it has been striving to be recognised worldwide and is yet to receive official recognition as a separate state from the international community. Somaliland has by and large escaped the conflict that has ravaged much of the rest of Somalia for the last 25 years.
Running a marathon in this fascinating country, where the local’s hospitality is legendary will be an unforgettable experience. Through our charity partner, and the funds raised by runners, some young Somaliland adults will get the opportunity to receive a university education, which otherwise may not be available to them.
As Somaliland is one of the least visited countries in the world, you won’t find any crowded tourist spots here. Hargeisa, the capital city, is the perfect base from which to explore this self-proclaimed republic. From here it’s possible to go on a trek to the twin summits of Naasa Hablood – or Virgin’s Breast Mountain – located in the scrubby desert area of Woqooyi Galbeed province. Alternatively, a three-hour drive will take you to the port city of Berbera on the Gulf of Aden where camels roam free on beaches and one can discover the old buildings and history from the Ottoman era or left behind by the British when it formed the capital of their Somaliland protectorate. In the deserts north of the capital are the remarkable cave paintings of Las Geel. Las Geel means “camel watering hole” in Somali and 6000 – 9000 years ago the people of the region covered a nearby rock outcrop with hundreds of stylised petroglyphs.
The Jubba Airways Somaliland Marathon welcomes all runners, regardless of sex, creed, colour, or national origin and aims to promote sport in Somaliland through the organisation of an annual marathon and 10km race in the capital, Hargeisa. As well as encouraging more Somalis to participate in sport, the marathon will showcase this wonderful and hospitable country to visiting foreign athletes.
Enda Nevin – Race Director
Enda, who is from Ireland, has lived and worked in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he worked as a project manager for an international organisation. He has travelled extensively through the horn of Africa and has run two marathons in Beirut, one in 2016 and the other in 2017, raising funds to build a playground in a Palestinian refugee camp and a community centre in a temporary settlement for Syrian refugees.
Enda works and lives in Beirut. He is a logistics and procurement manager for an International Non-Governmental Organisation. He has been based there for the last two years.
James is the founder of Untamed Borders, an adventure travel company providing unparalleled access to some of the world’s most interesting and inaccessible places. The company specialises in trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, former Soviet Central Asia, the Caucasus, Middle East and East Africa but also arrange bespoke trips to other off-the-beaten-track destinations. James has guided hundreds of people in hard-to-reach destinations including Somaliland as well as other parts of Somalia including Puntland and Mogadishu. In 2016 he led the first commercial trip for over 25 years to the lighthouse on the tip of the horn of Africa. His talk at the RGS about this trip can be seen here.
He is also one of the organisers of the Marathon of Afghanistan.
Olly Sills – Partner Liaison Manager
Olly Sills has worked in education his whole working life, both as a private tutor and previously as a manager of study centres for disadvantaged children in London. He represents the Darlington Gacmadheere Foundation, the main charity partner of the Marathon of Somaliland, and has a strong family connection to Richard Darlington, (Gacmadheere) who gave up much of his adult life to the field of education in Somaliland. Olly has visited Hargeisa and travelled around the surrounding area. He has also just completed an Ironman triathlon.
Ahmad was born in Hargeisa, Somaliland. He travelled to the UK when he was 14 years old to finish his high school. Ahmad is a keen footballer and while in the UK, Ahmad played football for Cardiff School Boys and Cardiff South Wales Boys for Football. Ahmad went on to study chemistry and completed a Masters of Chemistry from the University of Salford. Ahmad now lives and works in Hargeisa, where he, along with other investors, established the first cooking oil company in Somaliland. Ahmad is an active supporter of our charity partner, the Darlington Gacmadheere Foundation and is our man on the ground of the event.
The Darlington Gacmadheere Foundation is our official charity partner and is a charity which promotes and supports the education of students in Somaliland. The foundation uses funds raised to allow young adults attend university in Somaliland. The approximate cost of this four-year course is $1,500USD, which will allow them the opportunity to continue their education into adulthood. If you choose to raise money for the Darlington Gacmadheere Foundation and successfully raise the $1,500, you could personally enable someone to gain a university place and the Darlington Gacmadheere Foundation will cover your entrance fee. More details are given on this page.
Untamed Borders will be providing logistical support to the Somaliland Marathon, as well as arranging packages for people wishing to compete. Untamed Borders are an adventure travel company providing unparalleled access to some of the world’s most interesting and inaccessible places. They specialise in trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Middle East, East Africa, former Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus, but also arrange bespoke trips to other off-the-beaten-track destinations.
They have been running trips to Somaliland as well as Mogadishu in Somalia for over five years