Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon: One of Africa’s Best Open Secrets
Every year, on the last Sunday in June, at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro, the little town of Moshi, Tanzania, Africa bursts into life on the international running scene. Heralded one of Forbes Traveler magazine's top ten African Adventures, the Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon has clinched several awards and is part of the Seven Continents Club.
The oldest and best continuing marathons in Tanzania, they will be celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. So popular is this race that registrations for the 2016 edition are now open before this year's race is even over! Here's why:
In Africa, there are not many well-paved roads off the hills, which are difficult to run on. Hence, the Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon is a 10.5 km loop which the runners run four times. The repetition shouldn't faze you as you'll be busy taking in the vast changing vast landscapes as you run along roads with mostly no traffic and on soft grass.
You can even do a triathlon if you wish: Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, in 5 days, descending on a Thursday evening. Then take part in a bike race/ ride on the backroads of Moshi on Friday, before rounding off with the full Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon on Sunday. Sounds intense? Besides the spectacular panoramic views and workout, you'll also be blessed by the wholehearted cordiality here.
There will be a decorated water station at every kilometre where local seminaries will hand out oranges and bottled water. Looking out for every runner, there will also be a van driving over the course, carrying fruit, water and anything runners think they may need during the race. The organisers will stay on the course for over six hours for the slow runners to complete the race before holding the awards ceremony, which is joined by local officials and American embassy officials.
At the pre-race Pasta Party, the Maasi Tribes will entertain and demonstrate how they celebrate their special occasions like weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. Guests can also get the exclusive chance to take pictures with these unique African tribesmen. The race organisers even make it a point to celebrate the runners' June birthdays at their Pasta Party amongst other special arrangements. Once, they even celebrated a Bar Mitzvah at a participant's request!
Everyone's a Winner
The Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon is the only marathon that does not invite any professional runners. Every year an amateur runner wins—that could be you! Past winners have come from all walks of life and run for the love of it. In fact, the oldest runner to run this course and climb the mountain is 75 years of age! So what's stopping you on your adventure?
All international participants will receive a large engraved medal with ribbon, an artistic Certificate of Participation and a T-shirt. The top five runners will also be awarded beautiful engraved trophies. Tanzanian runners will also receive engraved medals and Certificates of Participation. They will also be presented monetary awards and gifts from the American runners and US officials.
Carry on the spirit of friendship and generosity by using this opportunity to give small gifts to the Tanzanian runners. Whether it is old running shoes, T-shirts or anything you'd like to give, they'll truly appreciate them.
Register for the 2016 Marathon!
You can already start planning for your twelve-day tour next year from 17 to 28 June 2016. Race day will be on Sunday, 26 June 2016.
For US$4,995, you will get an all-inclusive package comprising of a round-trip air ticket, hotel accommodation, all meals, a guided climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro and other race perks. Alternatively, you could also opt for the US$3,695 package without the climb. There are also other optional add-on tours such as a 5-day safari trip.
For more information, visit their website.