Marathons in East Africa are being adopted to promote sports tourism and development in rural areas of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. The list of marathons and their dates is provided below for those intending to participate. Your East African safari can be scheduled around these marathons. Given that the events typically last a few days, you can go on safari afterwards.
Tusker Lite Mount Rwenzori marathon, Uganda
The Mount Rwenzori marathon, which will be held on September 2, 2023 in Kasese municipality. You will run while enjoying vistas of the snow-capped Rwenzori mountains. There are three routes available to choose from, including 21 km, 5 km, and 42 km, which includes the crossing of equator line and two crater lakes.
The routes have paved and dirt roads. The Mount Rwenzori marathon is rated by USA Today as the one of the world’s best half marathons as the views of the landscapes are breathtaking. Booking for the marathon is available through the marathon’s organizer, Tusker Lite. The cost is $60 for international runners and 60,000 Ugshs for East African citizens.
The Mt. Rwenzori marathon happens every year giving opportunities to local and smallholder businesses including coffee. The fertile soils around Rwenzori support growing Arabic coffee and many families depend on it for their livelihoods. After the marathon, visitors can also enjoy a safari to Queen Elizabeth or Rwenzori mountains national parks.
The Kilimanjaro marathon, Tanzania
This marathon happens every year in the town of Moshi, capital city of Kilimanjaro region, north east Tanzania. The Kilimanjaro marathon has been around since 2009 and the 21st edition was there on 26, February 2023.
The forthcoming one will take place the same month next year 2024. The dates are yet to be determined, so you may return here for updates. Running takes place on the southern slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro through Moshi town between 950 m (3,120 ft)- 700m (2,300ft). Running conditions are favourable due to the low elevation and pleasant weather.
Moshi town is 42 km east of Kilimanjaro international airport and 72 km from Arusha town, the capital of northern Tanzania safari parks including Ngorongoro crater, Serengeti, Tarangire, and lake Manyara national parks. The marathon coincides with the wildebeest birthing in the Southern Serengeti plains.
Uganda international marathon, Masaka
The Uganda international marathon will take place on Sunday 26 May 2024. There’s enough time for you to prepare for this charity event that has raised up to $750,000 since its inception in 2015.
The marathon takes place in Masaka municipality and features a 7-adventure tour, giving participants the chance to combine running with Ugandan cultural experiences. Masaka city is 119 km (2-hour drive) west of Kampala capital city. Just located on the shores of Lake Victoria and being in Masaka offers easy access to the Sesse Islands as well as several birding sites.
For instance, the Nabugabo wetland and sand beach, a Ramsar site and home to endemics of Lake Victoria including the papyrus gonolek, is 18 km from the city. Those with more time can take a boat via the Bukakata landing site or ferry from Entebbe to Sesse islands in Kalangala. Masaka is also the center of barkcloth making, you can witness the ancient technique of making barkcloth from the bark of Mutuba tree (ficus natalensis).
Masaka is also a center for the production of barkcloth in Uganda, Local artists have been featured on the Smithsonian Folklife festival and you have a chance to meet them and learn about how barkcloth is made using an antiquated method from the bark of the Mutuba tree (ficus natalensis).
Kigali international peace marathon, Rwanda
The Kigali international peace marathon is a peace building strategy that focuses on the culture and history of Rwanda, the “Land of A Thousand Hills.” Only three ethnic groups—the Tutsi, the Hutu, and the minority Batwa—exist in the nation.
In 1994 there was a genocide against Tutsi in which over 800,000 people perished, the majority of whom were Tutsis and a small number of Hutu allies. The 100-day civil war left Rwanda’s economy completely crippled, and the peace-building process faces a transitional challenge.
The marathon is one of the social events that brings together and encourages citizens to be active members in the sustainable development agenda. The Kigali marathon will give you a peek of the country’s 30-year recovery effort and its future prospects. As you run, you will get a glimpse of the clean and peaceful streets.
This year Kigali international peace marathon took place on 11 June. Those intending to participate in the forthcoming Kigali marathon can take advantage to go on safari in Rwanda. There are four national parks to explore including Volcanoes for gorilla and golden monkey trekking, Nyungwe forest for canopy walk and chimpanzee tracking, and Akagera for game drive safaris. Should stay up to date for the 2024 Kigali international marathon.
Marathons in Kenya
Kenya is famous for producing some of the world’s best runners including Eliud Kipchoge who won the Berlin Marathon 2022 with a record time of 2:01:09. As such, the country hosts some of the best marathons in East Africa including those that take place in national parks such as the Masai Mara national reserve and Lewa conservancy.
The Lewa safari marathon
According to the Runner’s World Magazine, the Lewa safari marathon is one of the “top marathons to run in your life.” The race takes place in June every year in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a UNESCO world heritage site located in the semiarid northern region. The marathon was started in 2000 for a good cause to mobilize the community for development and to conserve endangered species including rhinos, elephants, and Grevy’s zebras. The altitude is 1,676 meters above sea level and running can be challenging due to the nature of terrain. However, running through the park along the Lewa river’s banks offers a chance to see wildlife.
One of the biggest marathons in East Africa, the Nairobi marathon attracts over 20,000 participants in October every year in Nairobi capital city of Kenya. Nicknamed the “Green City in the Sun”, Nairobi is a good city to run with an altitude of 1,795 meters above sea level. There are over 3.5 million people in Nairobi and traffic jams occasionally occur.
The marathon routes including 42 km, 21 km, and 6 km are designed to avoid traffic and pass by the city’s green parks, including Uhuru Park and the new express highway. Those intending to explore more can visit Nairobi national park, which is home to over 100 mammal species including the Big 5 animals.
Those planning to participate in one of these marathons can anticipate finding the required gear at their chosen destination. There are clothing stores for shopping in large cities, whether you desire apparel or running shoes, you don’t have to bring too much when leaving home.