With the 12th annual Nairobi Marathon occurring this past Sunday, we felt inspired to write about the opportunities for incorporating participation in a race into your safari itinerary. We think this is an amazing way to explore new territory, participate in a local activity (a real authentic experience!), and to get some exercise! It’s a total bucket list item for any serious runner, but could appeal to those just looking for a short, fun run too! And if you’re not much of a runner, they’re definitely fun events to watch and cheer on.
Essentially, there are races (marathons, half-marathons, ultra-marathons, 5ks, 10ks, and bike races of varying distances) happening pretty frequently all over Africa; in major cities and in more remote areas as well. Kenya and South Africa seem to offer the most frequent race opportunities, but they can occur all over. Below is a list of a few races that we hope get you inspired and would be well worth it if you’re up for the challenge! But we are more than happy to search for others that might better fit into your itinerary.
March 1, 2015. The run occurs entirely on well-paved roads in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The route is fairly flat and flows through villages, forests, sections of Moshi town, and banana and coffee plantations. The route is lined with cheerful supporters and live music and entertainment.
May 31, 2015. This race is no joke! It’s the oldest and largest ultra-marathon in the world, for which you must qualify in order to enter. The window to enter for the 2015 race is closing (November 30, 2014), but if you’re up for the 90 km (56.1 miles) challenge, then we suggest working on qualifying and entering for 2016. And if you plan on being in South Africa in May, 2015, you should definitely try to catch some of the action! The race begins at City Hall in Durban and ends in Pietermaritzburg, the capital city of KwaZulu-Natal Provence.
April 4, 2015. The Two Oceans Marathon includes a few races; a half-marathon, a marathon plus (56 km), and some trail runs. The route is incredibly scenic as you run through the city, along Cape Town’s coast, and up its mountains. On April 3, there will be a series of “Fun Runs” that are geared toward families and children.
Safaricom Marathon/Half Marathon
2015 date, TBD (usually held in June). The Safaricom Marathon takes place in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The loop begins in the southern end of the conservancy and takes place on dirt roads that wind through the reserve, adjacent to riverbanks, and across open plains. The loop is a half-marathon long, so marathoners would circle it twice. There are also children’s 5km races. The course is protected by armed rangers and spotter planes, as you really are running through the bush! This is a really special race for taking place in an amazing wildlife location and for its contribution to wildlife conservation in Lewa.
February 13 and 14, 2015. The 10to4 Mountain Bike Challenge refers to its original course route; beginning on Mt Kenya at 10,000ft above sea level and riding down to Il Ngwezi at 4,000ft above sea level. Now the race offers a variety of course options to suit different levels of technicality and difficulty. One can enter to ride 160, 90, 70, 56, or 39 km, and a few different children’s races are available as well. The 10to4 raises money for the Mount Kenya Trust’s conservation projects.
As always, we will do whatever we can to make your safari aspirations come to life. Let us know if any of these events appeal to you or inspire you to add something similar into your itinerary. As with any race, there are registration deadlines, so the sooner we can get to planning, the better! There are some really amazing opportunities for runners and bikers that could make your safari extra special!