I Heart Freetown Fashpack Runners

The highlight of the international sporting calendar, the Sierra Leone Marathon in Makeni, is almost upon us. As we all know, the race is a major fundraising event for Street Child attracting 100s of international runners from the UK and beyond. It’s also an important race for Sierra Leone’s best local runners.

The Freetown Fashpack Runners are a team of 40 of Freetown’s best long and middle distance runners who are supported each year through the fundraising efforts of Global Fashpack to run in Makeni and other prestigious international marathons.

Pink headbands were the main reason behind the team’s success at the 2013 Sierra Leone Marathon.

The team has competed in the past two Sierra Leone Marathons and has achieved outstanding results on both occasions, blitzing the field of internationals and gaining places in all races. The best of the team went on to compete in the 2013 Liberian Marathon in August, returning with a swag of medals.

Marathon record holder Idrissa Kargbo competed in the New York Marathon last November where he battled freezing temperatures to run a courageous race. Last month he was joined at the London Marathon by Sierra Leone’s best female marathon runner, Mamie Konneh “Runaway” Lahun, they both clocked incredible times – personal bests and national records with Idrissa placing 61st in the entire field and Mamie 20th in the women’s section of the race.

You’re impressed right? Well here’s your chance to be part of their success. This year we are appealing to Freetown folk to sponsor a Freetown Fashpack Runner. For just Le100,000 (less than a block of low-grade camembert cheese at Freetown Direct), you will give a local athlete one of the only opportunities they have all year to compete. The race is a BIG DEAL for the team and they are determined to run their best times.

In exchange for your generosity you will receive a special edition, personalized, hi-tech, state-of-the-art, polyester Freetown Fashpack Runners vest which we encourage you to wear in the race if you are competing.

Thank you models Ibby and Idrissa, not only are these vests super attractive but they are perfect for running 42.5km in.

And from the back even better. Imagine if one of those names was replaced by yours? How proud would you feel?

For those keen to sponsor but have no interest in owning a polyester running vest, you can opt for the ever popular ‘Totes Amazeballs Tote Bag‘.

Look at those colours! look at that design! It’s the perfect cloth Africana bag exclusive to Global Fashpack.

All items will be delivered by the reliable Ibrahim ‘Ibby Fixer’ Kabia next week before the race in exchange for sponsorship payment. You will be acknowledged on the Global Fashpack Facebook page (‘like’ us if you haven’t already) with a photo and ‘thank you’ message. For those running, you are also invited to a punishing coaching session with the Freetown Fashpack Runners at Lumley Beach next Thursday (starts at Family Kingdom at 6pm). It’s a great opportunity to hear champion athlete Idrissa Kargbo scream at you to keep up the pace while half marathon rocket Usman ‘Super’ Challey will be there to give you the side eye of death when you start slowing down.

Come on! Do you want to get your ass whipped by Sierra Leone’s best on the 25th May? Of course you do! Dig deep people and let’s make sure Sierra Leone is properly represented at the race.

If you want to support the runners email me (jo@freetownfashpack.com) the following details:

  1. Name:
    2. Phone:
    3. Shirt or bag or both? (A shirt and bag sponsorship package is Le120,000.)
    4. Extra bag? (Le50,000 each)
    5. Shirt size – S/M/L if you’re down with the shirt
    6. Day time delivery address:

For those not in Freetown but want to throw some money at this great cause, a very generous Freetown lady will be running the marathon herself to raise money for the Freetown Fashpack Runners. Check out Kate Wood’s fundraising page here. If you donate, be aware that half your donation will go to Wel Bodi Partnership, another great Freetown-based organisation.



Stubborn yet stylish

It may be the silly season, but it’s also the season of sports carnivals in Freetown. This means that on any given afternoon, you can visit the National Stadium and watch schools from across the peninsula compete their asses off in an all-in sporting orgy. What usually happens is that the students dress in their ‘house’ colours – either blue, green, yellow or red. This is the same system we had when I was in primary school, wow nothing has changed in 55 years!

Ali is in fact breaking a very serious school rule right here in front of us by not wearing his house colours. He is part of the red house but has different ideas about his colour chart. “I don’t like red, I like pink so I wore all pink. I feel good in these clothes”. And what did Ali’s teacher have to say about this? “Ali is a very stubborn boy who is not following the system”. Thank you Mr Kargbo. Ali, you may be blatantly ignoring Mr Kargbo but you look damn fine while doing it.

Freetown Fashpack Runners were fashionably victorious at the Sierra Leone Marathon

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.

First Photo_Low_resThis 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.

Random_Photographer_low_resThe international media were there to send the team off. This young broadcast journalist deserves mention merely for the fur coat he was determined not to remove despite the stifling humidity.


The 5km dream team start their warm-ups. And yes, it was so freaking early the sun was not yet up!

Nex_Le_low_resResident 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.

LowresjoandmeghanThe Fashpack Management Team can’t hide their excitement (or their shiny skin) despite the early start.

startline_low_resThe 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.

George_and_prez_low_resIn 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.

JoandPres_low_resNot 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’.

mensmarathon_low_resThe 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.

Aminata kargbo_low_resThat’s Aminata Kargbo with an African Minerals big wig doing it for the ladies as she collects her third place certificate in the women’s marathon.

Tejan_Jalloh_Low_resAnd there’s Tejan Jalloh accepting his third place award in the men’s half marathon. The Marketing Director from Gambia Bird is excited to be in the presence of such sporting greatness.

second_mens_Half_lowresAlpha Kamara bought home the silver for Fashpack in the men’s half marathon. Half Marathon winner Usman Challey (who was not running for Fashpack) is clearly thrilled by his wood carved trophy.

Women_Half_winnersThe 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.

5km_Victory_low_resBest 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. Dream_team_Low_resIn 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.

Girls 5km_low_resAnd 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.

Filmcrew_low_resFashpack 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.

Merch_low_resThe 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 jo@freetownfashpack.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.

An ‘It’ bag you can’t live without

Throw away your Birkin, burn your Celine, stomp all over your Marc Jacobs there’s a new ‘It’ bag on the block. Introducing this season’s Fashpack ‘Totes Amazeballs Tote Bag’. Made from 100% waxy West African cotton by local tailor Unisa Jalloh, the TATB is currently available for a bargain Le 30,000 exclusively in  Freetown by emailing me at jo@freetownfashpack.com. If you live elsewhere and you need one now, looks like you’re going to have to book a flight to Sierra Leone and pick one up in person, which would be totally worth it. Otherwise you can wait for our international distribution service which will hopefully take off in the coming months (or years, let’s be realistic).

IMG_1789 Adorable model Ibrahim Kabbia displays three different designs, all using a powerful clash of prints which are guaranteed to clash with whatever it is you’re wearing. All sales will help support the Freetown Fashpack Runners to compete in the Sierra Leone Marathon in Makeni on 26 May.

Disco inferno on the streets of Freetown

As the temperature in Freetown soars, so do the fashions on the street. The boys seem to be all over the headphone while the ladies are opting for the sizzling spray-on disco tight. And why not? They’re sexy, shiny and utterly booty-licious


Beyonce doppelganger Adama is burning my retinas in her shiny pink tights, so cleverly matched with her shoe laces. She was spotted at the national stadium, cheering on her favourite team at her school sports day.


Mariama jumps on the pink tight disco train, this time with a casual T, some very fetching earrings and blingy sandals.


It’s another stadium outfit, this time worn by Mavis who is supporting the yellow team. Her expression may be stoney but she’s already to party in her black tights teamed so well with a yellow top and laces. And that hair piece seems to be this season’s must-have accessory in Freetown.

Dress like a butterfly sting like a bee

Last Friday night, the National Stadium in Freetown cranked up the generator, wheeled in a temporary ring and hosted a tournament of world-class boxing. While the action in the ring was compelling, some of the bad boy fashions in the crowd also proved a knock-out.
Black Leo’s gangster rap look was a popular ringside uniform. But what set these threads apart is the Coogi tracksuit top. For those not familiar with the label, Coogi is to Australia, what Burberry is to the UK or what Dolce and Gabbana is to Italy or what Unisa Jalloh is to Sierra Leone. An iconic fashion force that is utterly recognizable and completely unique. A walk through any Australian international airport is not complete without a quick poke around the Coogi shop. Black Leo however found his at the Congo Market.
Die-hard boxing fan Sevalie is 16 rounds of hotness in his statement headwrap which is hiding a big old bunch of dreads.
Malaika’s paired-back navy suit is a refreshing shift away from the gangsta aesthetic. The simple white beads are a shift towards my mother’s wardrobe from 1981, but somehow it all works beautifully.
Match referee James plays by the rules in his standard ref’s uniform. What I would like to know is, beyond the uniform, why do boxing referees look the same the world over? Small frame, somewhat short and most often bald?

Mr T sports the same haircut as his namesake

Freetown boxer Mr T has drawn inspiration for his look from 80’s TV soldier of fortune ‘B A. Barracus’ from the hit series The A-team played of course by the original Mr T. This Mr T is sporting a genuine mohawk, not a faux hawke and definitely not a weave. He told me that the original Mr T is his hero because he is also a great boxer. My memory of the original Mr T did not involve boxing. After wasting half an hour on the net searching for a boxing link I found nothing. Mr T – your mohawk is cool but you need to check your facts. I did however discover the following interesting fact about the original Mr T:

He gave up virtually all his gold, one of his identifying marks, after helping with the cleanup after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He said, “As a Christian, when I saw other people lose their lives and lose their land and property…I felt that it would be a sin before God for me to continue wearing my gold. I felt it would be insensitive and disrespectful to the people who lost everything, so I stopped wearing my gold.”

What a generous guy!

And a close up of Mr T. Look closely and you can see how he has shaved his name in the side of his head.

Sports fashions don’t always have to be uncool

Fashion and sport. In many ways it’s an awkward relationship. As we saw repeatedly at the recent London Olympics (hello weighlifters, synchronised swimmers, shot putters, volleyball players and basically anyone wearing lycra or a tracksuit), function seems to always trump style when it comes to sports fashion. At the national stadium in Freetown however the story is different. It’s a carnival of cutting edge functionality uncompromised by gold medal style.


Tommy leads the pack in this off-the-shoulder onesie in red which he fashioned himself simply by pulling one of the straps down to reveal a secret weapon – his right peck.


Bintu is the fastest girl in her class. And it’s no wonder with these pink two toned bike shorts.


Pocket rocket Edward psyches out his competitors in these blue spotted lyra shorts. He can run 200 meters in 29 seconds, a very respectable time which he attributes to relentless training and of course his shorts.


Usain…is that you?


Ah no…its his more fashionable Sierra Leonian rival Claudius Bolt who can almost beat his world record time while wearing a beanie.