Situated south of the equator – in Tanzania – at 5 895 metres, this is Africa’s highest mountain and the highest free standing mountain in the world (as it is not part of a mountain range). Huge permanent glaciers flow down from the summit, and the sheer presence of this huge mountain dominates the entire area. An icon in Africa, “Kili“ as she is affectionately known, is one of the sights every person should see at least once in his or her life.
Every year, at the end of February/beginning March, a standard 42.2 km marathon, a 21.1 km half marathon and a 5 km fun run will be held in the town of Moshi, Tanzania. This race has been set up to promote the sport in Tanzania, and has the official backing of the Tanzania Tourist Board, the Tanzania Amateur Athletics Association, the IAAF, and is registered with AIMS.
The marathon route leaves Moshi stadium and heads down towards the town, and then along the main road to Dar es Salaam for approximately 8-9 km. This section of the route is relatively flat, and there are plenty of spectators and well-wishers along the road. We turn around and head back to the town of Moshi, tracking down into the actual town itself before turning toward the mountain and heading up a long, steady ascent towards Mweka. The uphill climb is gradual, but with Kilimanjaro towering above and all the local villagers out to cheer you on, the time passes quickly. The turnaround point marks approximately 32 km and the last section is a fast downhill run back toward the stadium. Regular water tables as well as ‘sponging points’ and the odd ‘shower’ keep the runners refreshed and cool along the entire route.
The route passes through many smallholding farms, villages, parts of town, banana and coffee plantations and patches of forest, providing great excitement to the residents who give ample vocal support.
For those running the half marathon, the route also starts at the Moshi stadium and after a short, flat section, it follows the gradual uphill route to Mweka as per the full marathon – before turning around at approx 10 km to return to the stadium again. The atmosphere in the stadium is electric with local bands playing, entertainment, crowds of local enthusiasts to cheer the runners, and lots of refreshments for sale.
The logistics of the operation are run by the Kilimanjaro Marathon Club and the members of both the Tanzania Amateur Athletics Association (TAAA) and the local Kilimanjaro Amateur Athletics Association (KAAA).
The Kilimanjaro Marathon may also be used as a qualifier for the Comrades Marathon.