The Freetown Fashpack Runners (FFR) were the undeniable champions at Sunday’s Sierra Leone Marathon in Makeni. Every single team member made Fashpack proud with sterling efforts, admirable sportsmanship and of course smoking hot team uniforms. While it’s not all about winning, the FFR dominated with a sweep of medals and too many outstanding results to mention.
This is the team before they hopped on the bus at the National Stadium in Freetown bound for Sierra Leone’s marathon city – Makeni. Despite a late departure and sub-standard bus, our runners still managed to punch the air and do the Azonto in a show of sporting excitement.
The 5km dream team start their warm-ups. And yes, it was so freaking early the sun was not yet up!
Resident rapper Nex Lu led the athletes in a chorus of “Freetown Fashpack Marathon is lively, hit the start line with some energy, show some energy, show some energy..YEAH”. There he is on the left looking ecstatic about the 4am start alongside up-and-coming rap talent and 5km star I.B Love.
The start line was well represented with the courageous Freetown Fashpack Runners. On the right there is Sierra Leone marathon record holder Idrissa Kargbo, preparing to defend his title as the marathon and half marathon competitors wait for the start gun.
In perhaps the most emotional moment of the day, FFR superstar George Windham who was also the only wheelchair athlete in the race stood at the line and shook hands with His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma bringing tears to the eyes of his Coach, the Global Fashpack staff and all his fellow runners. George introduced the lovable leader to the crowd saying ‘This is my father’. Yep, George is totes down with the Prez.
Not to be outdone by George, the Global Fashpack Director, jumped in and had her moment with the President. ‘I love your headband Jo’ were apparently the words that came out of the President’s mouth when she threw herself in front of His Excellency. She responded with ‘…and your tracksuit is rocking Mr President, good luck in the race’.
The race produced so many champions it’s hard to know where to start. In a shock defeat Idrissa Kargbo took second place in the men’s marathon when his team mate and friend Chris Johnson beat him to the number one podium. Both runners ran disappointingly slow times and Idrissa’s national record from last year still stands. Idrissa was gracious in his defeat and Chris was jubilant about the wood elephant carving he was awarded for first place. Joseph Kamara on the right completed this magical Fashpack trifecta coming in third.
The Fashpack winners weren’t grinners in this particular shot but that was mainly because of the wood carved trophy being handed to the first place getter, that’s unabashed jealousy right there on their faces. Fashpack ladies again did the team proud with Animata Sesay scooping second and Adama Sesay securing a third in the women’s half marathon.
Best mates and Faspack’s friendliest team members Mohammed Mansaray and Augustin Momoh were chuffed to achieve a second and third respectively in the 5km race. While Fashpack congratulates these fine runners on their result, special mention must also go to race favourites Uzman Jalloh, Thomas ‘Tenderman’ Kamara and Ibrahim ‘I.B Love’ Kamara. These three national record-holding runners were leading the pack in the early stages of the race at such a length that they confused race officials who assumed they were part of the marathon and half marathon pack who had left half an hour earlier. Through no fault of their own the three were misdirected on the wrong path and ended up losing time before they were re-directed back to the 5km circuit. In a sporting travesty the dream team lost their lead but still managed to gain respectable positions despite running several hundred meters further than the rest of the field. Tenderman was awarded 4th place, Usman 9th and IB Love 6th. Boys, we commiserate your misfortune but will stand by you next year when you take on the field for victory.
And it’s another trifecta with the Fashpack ladies sweeping the gold silver and bronze in the women’s 5km. Aminatu Sesay was the noble victor, standing next to team mates Victoria Bestman in second and Fatima B Sesay in third.
Fashpack film crew never let that camera stop rolling capturing all the joy, tears, drama and emotion of the year’s greatest race. Acclaimed British Director Leanne Welham worked tirelessly through the race and in it’s lead-up with trusty side kicks Ibrahim Kabia and Victor Bestman (who also achieved a 4th place in the 5km) by her side. Thanks guys, Fashpack owes you all big time XX.
The Fashpack Management Team finally relax with a few beers behind the merch desk after the race. And for those in Freetown it’s not too late to purchase Fashpack bags, posters and postcards. Just email email@example.com and we will sort you out. All money raised goes towards the Freetown Fashpack Runners and their trip to Makeni. For further recaps of the marathon, check out the Global Fashpack Facebook page.