Marking a birthday with a solo marathon

Trinity postgraduate student Ngoni Mugwisi has celebrated his lockdown birthday on June 17 by running his first ever marathon to raise funds for education in Zimbabwe.

A third-year Dphil student in Engineering originally from Zimbabwe, Mugwisi set himself a solo course of 26.2 miles around Oxford, finishing in 3 hours and 27 minutes (an average of under 8 minutes per mile). He ran the marathon as a fundraiser for Education Matters Africa Foundation, an organization working out of Zimbabwe to assist low income, high achieving students to apply to university which helped him apply to university in 2012. So far, this effort has raised over £2,500.

He says: ‘Once a lockdown on account of coronavirus was announced back home, I knew that remote learning would be difficult and expensive for students in a developing nation like Zimbabwe. I felt inspired to help. At the risk of sounding cliche, a quote by Roosevelt who, many years ago, told us to ‘Do what you can with what you have where you are’ was on mind when I decided to run my solo race. I found this to be an opportunity to pay it forward to Education Matters, an empowering organization that invested in my own education. My solo marathon was an attempt to bring friends who care about education together.

‘Most of the race was enjoyable as I was running on familiar paths that I have come to know so well since the UK lockdown. I got through the tough bits by reminding myself why I was running and redefining the pain as my birthday celebration. I also had great support – there were friends cheering almost every 8km. My housemates, fellow Trinity postgraduates Said Said and Philippe Holzhey, were amazing for passing me water and pacing me at the end. I wasn’t expecting to raise the amount I did, and I am blown away by everyone’s generosity.’

Mugwisi grew up in Gweru, Zimbabwe, before winning a MasterCard Foundation scholarship to attend Arizona State University in the United States and then a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford. With the onset of COVID-19 he and a group of fellow Zimbabwean students have also established ZimCOVID19.com, a virtual network to support the response to the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Posted: 18 June 2020

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