Running In Burundi

I have been an occasional runner most of my life. I enjoy the health benefits and the incredible feeling when a goal is reached (and the run is over!). When we lived in Indianapolis during our med school and residency years, we participated in the Mini, a 13.1 mile run that coincided with the Indy 500 events of May. There was a real sense of accomplishment as we saw our training and discipline put to the test on the Indy streets.

When we arrived here in Burundi about 16 months ago, I was surprised to find that Burundians love to run. They run individually or in groups of 50 or more people for exercise. They run to work or school in their regular clothes and shoes. They run to escape the pending downpours during the rainy season. And that constant exposure to runners has inspired me to run as well. Due to traffic concerns and the general crowd-drawing effect of a white man running in Burundi, I have so far opted for treadmill running. But I hope that in the months ahead, I’ll get past those concerns and hit the Bujumbura roads for some miles.

They Are Going to Run How Far?!

With that background on my limited running career, I want to say that our friends Kevin and Amy Kwilinski  have taken distance running to a whole new level. They run the equivalent of multiple marathons- on the same day! I appreciate the discipline it takes them to not only train for such distances but to do so while balancing family and work and other responsibilities. This year, they are preparing for a monster run in Africa. You can read a bit about it on their website. The Comrades run covers 56 miles from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, South Africa. Yes, 54 miles with an elevation change of 7000 feet!

What Does This Have to Do With Missional Millers?

We are glad that the Kwilinskis are going to be visiting Africa to take on the Comrades Marathon. But we celebrate that they have chosen to use this running feat to raise awareness and funds for Hope Africa University’s medical work. As we strive to equip facilities to train medical and nursing students and to care for the many patients who need attention, we depend on these donations to obtain the basic equipment required. Examples of these items include: suction machines for surgery, monitors for mothers who are in labor, lab analyzers for measuring sodium and potassium, and an ultrasound to monitor pregnancies and diagnose a variety of other patients.

We’re going to be cheering for the Kwilinskis when they compete in South Africa next month. They are “comrades” with us in the effort to see medical education and patient care improved in Burundi. Consider joining them by visiting their site and giving to provide vital medical equipment for Hope Africa’s clinics. If you have any questions about how to give or how your donations will be used, don’t hesitate to send us an email at or contact the Kwilinskis.