Someone who is looking to run unchartered territories that are untouched by human modernism may want to consider taking on a marathon in Africa. Some of the most outstanding and breath-taking landscape from around the globe, Africa offers both vast desert land and dense forests. From amazing city centers to uninhabited beauty, there is a little something for everyone. Which one is the best for you depends on what you are looking for.
Get back to nature and see the landscape of Africa with the unique perspective of a runner. Nothing but pure adrenaline and the shoes beneath your feet, running enthusiasts can see some incredible sights, climb to the highest peaks, uncover nature's hidden gems and treasures, and challenge themselves to do something that will create memories for a lifetime. If you are considering a race in Africa, these are some of the most famous and beloved marathons around the African countryside.
Voted by Discovery Channel as one of the toughest foot races on earth, the Marathon Des Sables is known for its rigid terrain and stupendous landscape. Unchartered territory, runners will have to brave many environments that the human body was not designed to endure. Racing across the Sahara desert, the Marathon Des Sables is not just a one-day event. Having to battle sand dunes, hot salt plains and sun that is hot enough to feel melting, planning ahead of time for every condition imaginable is the only way to survive this wilderness run. Not for the faint of heart, or the newbie, if you want to partake in the Marathon Des Sables be ready to push yourself mentally and physically beyond what you thought humanly possible. If, however, you can make it across the finish line, you will put yourself into a class of elite athletes that not many on earth will ever achieve.
Officially the Tusk’s Safaricom Marathon, elite runners from all around the globe flock to this favorite Kenyan marathon. Run across one of the most famous safari conservatories the world has to offer. The scenery is outstanding, but don’t be fooled into thinking it is anything but wild and unpredictable. Touted as one of the toughest marathons in the world with reason, runners will run alongside wildlife who have free reign of the landscape. See sights you have only read about in books while challenging yourself to push beyond your human sensibilities. Both mentally and physically challenging, although a mostly flat course, it is all trail running.
One of the most spectacular marathons worldwide, the Big Five Marathon is run across the African Savannah. The reason it is named the “Big Five” is that of the game reserves that it encompasses along the African countryside. Some of the most fantastical surroundings, you are likely to see mystic creatures in their particular habitat. Things such as lions, leopards, rhino and buffalo running free abound, it is an amazing way to commune with nature. The vast desert land can be gruesome, as can the hazardous sun-drenched heat of the day, but in the end, there is nothing standing in your way but your own will and determination to pass over the finish line and say “I survived the Big Five”.
Located in South Africa, the Comrades Marathon is not a good beginners race. One of the greatest Ultra Marathons of all time, it encompasses large hill ranges and incredible sites all around. A 4-night run, it is something that you have to train for. If you can pass over the finish line, however, you have done an amazing feat that not many are capable of. One of the oldest and largest Ultra Marathons worldwide, it pulls a wide International audience. A set of hills are the biggest obstacles in the runner’s way. If you have the stamina, the drive, and the determination, then completing the Comrades Marathon will set you into a class that is a step above other athletes around the globe.
Unlike other African marathons, the Knysna Forest Marathon isn’t located on vast desert land, but rather in the midst of a lush forest. Runners never know what type of conditions they are going to encounter, mostly covering unchartered and rough terrain courses. Depending on the day, marathoners should be prepared for mud, uneven trails and either hot steamy weather or torrential downpour. If you can make it through the treacherous landscape course unscathed to the finish line, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you braved landscape that many wouldn’t dare walk across. A definite must, it is a unique and one-of-a-kind African event.
Located within the Zambezi National Park is Victoria Falls, which is why this marathon is called the Victoria Falls Marathon. Running along the awesome Zambezi River, marathoners get the unique experience of witnessing the Victoria Falls in all of their glory. Racing toward the finish line, they also pass the quaint Victory Falls town, which seems frozen in time. A more seriously competitive marathon, runners are left to their own device out in the wild and just never know what they are going to encounter. From breathtaking landscape to exotic animals run amok, there is no shortage of sites and fantastical mystic creatures to behold. Not just a day race, the entire weekend is celebrated by locals and people who come from all corners of the earth to participate.
The Nairobi Marathon is not only a spectacular event; the proceeds go to an amazing charitable cause. Running through the streets of Kenya, it pulls marathoners from around the globe. The locals come alive cheering on people who are there for a cause. From seasoned marathoner to newbie alike, this African Marathon is a long standing tradition. Loop around the city and see Nairobi on foot, although from year to year the course may change, the spirit that drives people to run 26.2 miles never does.