The Insurance Challenge

Sierra Leone Marathon - Street Child - 2012

The London market reveals its altruistic side as runners and fundraisers prepare for the second-ever Sierra Leone marathon.

Sending 200 insurance professionals to Sierra Leone to race side by side under the African sun? It is a feat that could really only be dreamt up by the London market. Among those insurers sending teams to the West African country are Kiln (last year’s title sponsor), Talbot, Chaucer and Novae. City running club Ravens is also sending a team.

Former Kiln CEO Edward Creasy took part in the first Sierra Leone marathon in 2012, raising £6115 in sponsorship. He remains heavily involved in this year’s event: “The insurance industry is really going to benefit from sending out teams to participate in the marathon,” he says. “Not only because they will be sponsoring an excellent cause with a charity that is doing superb work in Sierra Leone, but also because the people they send out and the teams there have to show teamwork and enjoy each other’s company.”

“It involves using skills like communication and collaboration - which the insurance industry really relies upon in the London market,” he continues. “So you’re playing to your strengths as a runner in Sierra Leone and as an employee in the London insurance market.”

The insurance challenge

Following the success of last year’s marathon – Sierra Leone’s first ever marathon – organisers Street Child of Sierra Leone have challenged the insurance industry to raise £200,000 by recruiting teams of runners to take part in the 2013 event, which takes place on 26 May.

Money raised from the event will go to Street Child, a charity set up to reduce the numbers of children on the street in Sierra Leone by getting them back into home and school. Last year, 386 runners took part in the race.

“The marathon gives people a good reason to visit Sierra Leone and to raise money for the charity,” says Lewis Aldridge, race director of the Sierra Leone marathon. “And they get to see where the money is going to be spent, to visit the projects, meet the children, go to the schools and I think that’s what really sets it apart.”

“Last year the charity raised over £1m,” he continues. “And the largest proportion came from the marathon – £320,000. We didn’t expect it to be that successful. It was the first marathon and probably the first ever running races they’d had in Sierra Leone, so it was a completely new concept which I think took a lot of people by surprise.”

The route runs through Sierra Leone’s countryside – a course that takes participants through the hard-packed mud streets of Makeni – the country’s third-largest city – and from there to numerous villages that dot the landscape in the Bombali District.

Team building experience

“This year we wanted to broaden it, to invite more insurance professionals to come along and so we came up with the ‘Insurance Challenge’,” says Aldridge. “The challenge is really for the insurance industry to send teams to come and take part in the race and raise lots of funds.”

Beyond the opportunity to raise money for charity and take part in one of the runs on offer (a 5k, half marathon and full marathon) those taking part are promised a special team-building experience. The ‘Insurance Challenge’ will be launched at a special event in London on Wednesday 6 March.

The Challenge also offers the chance to experience a beautiful country that many of those involved would probably not visit otherwise. Since peace was declared in Sierra Leone in 2002, the country has made steady progress and is now one of West Africa’s safer destinations.

“There are all of these courses you can go on for team building but I don’t think anything could compare to what Sierra Leone did for us,” says Kiln’s Katherine Laverick, who took part in last year’s event. “It wasn’t only the race itself but the lead up and the fact that different people from different departments would help you in the fundraising, even though they weren’t coming.”

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