Each year, the Bui International Marathon begins in Kumbo, Cameroon. From the starting line in crowded Mbveh District, athletes run 13 miles south on roads (sometimes paved, sometimes clay, sometimes loose gravel) to Jakiri Village and back.
The race is part of the MilanoKumbo Sports Academy’s Summer Vacation Sports finals. For this year’s August 23rd date, Himalayan Institute Cameroon (HIC) donated the use of its van. HIC volunteers drove behind the runners as an ambulance, assisting those who were injured or otherwise unable to finish. They parked near the village of Sop (the halfway point between Kumbo and Jakiri) to hand out water. On their return trip they picked up five runners.
Later that day, after a muddy football championship at Tobin Municipal Stadium, Executive President of MilanoKumbo Roland Mbenkum kicked off the awards ceremony.
The top three teams or individuals in each event received cash awards, but the most sought after prizes were the pairs of sneakers donated by HIC. Twenty-four-year-old Eric Mbacah, first place overall in the marathon, certainly earned his pair.
Eric and three other athletes, Justilin Foimi, Januarius Bongkiyung, and Immaculate Wirngo, were presented with additional awards for their performance in the 2008 Boston Marathon. Last April, these four runners and their coaches stayed at the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, to acclimatize themselves before the race.
Immaculate’s sister Nadeche, an accomplished runner in her own right and winner of the day’s female half-marathon title, accepted the prize on her behalf. Immaculate is currently training in Ethiopia.
Mbenkum said, “Nadeche has won the prestigious Mount Cameroon Junior Title in 2006, in 2007, and in 2008. She is the current national champion in the 5,000 meter event. She missed qualifying for Beijing 2008 by eight seconds. We know that she will compete in London 2012. Because of this, we encourage her to accept this award on behalf of her sister Immaculate.”
In addition to the athletic events and football match, MilanoKumbo hosted finals in basketball, handball, and table tennis.