Destination Trail Running – Tanzania’s Kilimasai Marathon

Written by trail runner Victor Tsue from Tanzania. Victor finished 2nd in the 2022 Kilimasai Marathon in 6:25:21. Event organizers WILDmarathon are members of the American Trail Running Association.

I am going to tell my experience in the first edition of the Kilimasai Marathon in Tanzania, which took place on July 31, 2022. To begin with, it is not a normal marathon, it is a 5-day experience that offers, in addition to the race, other activities such as a safari in the Ngorongoro, or visits to a Masaai village and excursions, an acclimatization session.

The course

Day 1

It all starts when the organization picks me up at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (Moshi) in Tanzania and takes me to the Babylon Hotel, in Marangu, where the program begins.The hotel is lovely and it’s on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, where we’re going to hold the race.

Day 2

We got up quietly, we opened our runner’s bag with a long-sleeved shirt and arm warmers, a personalized number with the flag of my country and my name, and some gummies. We head for an acclimatization jog to the Marangu Falls where we bathe in spring waters and later attend a local coffee experience. We return to eat and rest at the hotel and in the afternoon we attend the briefing where the details of the race are explained to us. After dinner we sit by a quiet fire where we recount our deeds.

Course map and profile

Day 3

We went by van to the start of the race, at the Marangu Gate, at 1900m altitude. A Masaai recites some phrases in Swahilli and gives us the start… Goooo!

We start up. The course is uphill, the first 10km in the rain forest, among giant trees, streams, lianas and jungle monkeys. The race is marked every 5km with bright red panels. We arrive at Mandara Huts, at 2750m altitude and we go around the Maundi Crater to continue ascending, at this point the landscape begins to transform and we enter the Moorland, a landscape where the tall trees are transformed into bushes that let in the light and the slope It is softer. A little further up I have the return point, although those who do the long distance continue to Horombo Huts, at 3700m above sea level.

Now I have to concentrate on the descent because I’m well placed in the race and I don’t want to have a mishap with any roots, we have to be careful. I stop at one of the aid stations, have a banana, a little Coke and go downstairs.

Finally, I cross the Marangu Gate and head for the finish line, flanked by flags. I take the one from my country and enter the finish line jumping. The organization places my finisher medal on me and I lay down on the soft grass to rest.

The organization takes us to Moshi where we sleep to be closer to tomorrow’s destination, the Ngorongoro safari.

Day 4

For me this trip had a special meaning to visit the Ngorongoro Natural Park and Reserve, a crater at 2400m altitude where you can see the big 5… Rhino, Lyon, Leopard, Elephant and Buffalo. It is a place full of mystery because first you have to ascend and then descend to the crater. We see all kinds of animals… Wildebeest, Zebras, Impalas, Hyenas… Ngorongoro has not disappointed me, it is a sanctuary for animal life.

On the way back we went to visit a Masaai village. Some of our companions are very tired and prefer to return to the hotel but I don’t want to miss this ceremony where the Masaai teach us how to make fire, their dances, customs, etc… We jump with them and finally they give us the trophies in the shape of the Masaai . What a surprise! We return to the hotel at night because the route is long and I am exhausted.

Marangu Falls

Day 5

We are transferred, each one at our schedule, to the airport, to go to our country of origin. It has not been just a race, it has been an experience that I will never forget and that I have shared with participants from other countries… USA, Spain, New Zealand, Tanzania or Kenya.

The Kilimasai marathon in Tanzania offers several distances and a running experience in the Kilimanjaro Natural Park, something unique, I have also scored in the ranking, because this race is part of the Wildmarathon Series, a circuit in marathon, half marathon and 10k format in other spectacular places such as the Sahara Desert, Machu Picchu, the Arctic Circle in Lapland, the Annapurna trek in Nepal or the Jungle of Cozumel in Mexico.

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