It’s one thing to ride alongside animals on the savanna when you’re in a safari vehicle, but it’s an entirely different experience to run right next to them. Imagine spotting a giraffe galloping alongside you, giving you the last burst of energy you need to make it across the finish line… or seeing a herd of elephants coming towards you in the distance as you sweat toward your personal best. Well, there are several marathons taking place this summer where you can have this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Here are three incredible African marathons where you can run and see wildlife at the same time. If you’re ready to make your dream come true, act fast — registration is closing soon for this year’s races!
Safaricom Marathon, Kenya
Located in northern Kenya, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is the setting for the Safaricom Marathon on June 25, 2016 — one of the most difficult marathons in the world. The marathon is organized by Tusk, a wildlife conservation charity, and will host both amateur and professional runners as they run next to giraffes, rhinos and zebra.
The course meanders down dirt roads through the savannah, along river banks and into acacia woodland. The protected area is home to over 100 rhino, giraffe, buffalo and many more animals. There will be armed rangers located around the course, along with a helicopter and a light aircraft to monitor the movement of large animals during the race.
Running in the race will raise funds for conservation, community development and education programs. Over 1,300 runners take part in the marathon each year, and this 17th annual version of the event looks to be no different.
There are three race categories, including the full marathon, half marathon, and children’s 5km race.
Entry fee: US$250 and a minimum fundraising requirement of US$1,500 per person due before race day. US$150 and no fundraising required for children.
You must be 18 or older to enter the full or half marathon. The children’s 5km race has two categories, 10-13 and 14-17.
Registration is open until March 1, 2016 or whenever all spots are filled.
For complete information about the race, see the Safaricom Marathon website.
The Big Five Marathon, South Africa
South Africa’s Big Five Marathon takes also place on June 25, 2016, so unless you’re really fast, you’ll have to choose between it and Safaricom. The race takes place in Entabeni Game Reserve, where runners will be able to see all of the Big Five, if they’re lucky.
The route goes through beautiful and diverse terrain, including red sand, dirt roads, steep slopes, and endless savanna. There are two races to participate in, the classic marathon and a half marathon.
Entry fee: In order to sign up for the event, you have to purchase one of the tour packages, which start at US$1,650.
You must be 18 or older to participate in the race.
Registration is currently open for 2016 and can be completed through the Albatros Adventure website, which offers several week long packages that combine classic safaris and sightseeing with the race.
For more information, see the Big Five Marathon website.
Victoria Falls Marathon, Zimbabwe
Runners wanting to see one of the most magical natural phenomena on the planet — AND wildlife — should sign up for the Victoria Falls Marathon, taking place on July 3, 2016. The event is sponsored by Wild Frontiers and will allow runners to cross the Batoka Gorge and see stunning views of all the scenery around the falls, including glimpses of wildlife.
Victoria Falls is known as the adventure center of Africa, and there are plenty of outdoor activities in the area aside from running, including rafting, game viewing, and bungee jumping.
The race organizers are asking people to bring books, pens and educational materials to donate before the race. A portion of the race entry fees will also be donated directly to Painted Dog Conservation, Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit, Victoria Falls Green Fund and Rose of Charity.
Entry fee: The prices for the full marathon and half marathon are US$10 for Zimbabwe citizens, US$20 for Botswana and Zambia citizens, and US$40 for all others. The fun run is only US$3.
Runners must be at least 21 years old to do the full marathon, at least 18 years old to do the half marathon, and at least 10 years old to do the fun run.
Registration for the event is currently open here.
For more information, visit the Victoria Falls Marathon website.
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