June 1, 2011
Last February marked the 9th annual Kilimanjaro Marathon in Moshi. The event has been growing in popularity over the last few years, attracting thousands of runners to compete in one of three simultaneous race events: a 26.2 mile marathon, a 13.1 mile half-marathon or a 3.1 mile fun-run.
The race route begins and ends in a very lively Moshi Stadium, where there are many fans, vendors and live music. The route takes the runners out of the stadium and into the town where they pass through villages and banana and coffee plantations before heading gradually uphill to Mweka though the forested foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. Many of the runners are inspired by the view of Kilimanjaro’s peak, which can be seen throughout the race route.
Over 6,000 runners registered for the races this year, the majority of which hailed from Tanzania and Kenya. There were, however, many international racers such as South African, Richard Goodhead, who ran from Cape Town to Moshi in just over 140 days (that’s a marathon/day!). As if that wasn’t achievement enough, Goodhead went on to compete in the marathon and then climbed to Mt. Kilimanjaro’s summit! Another international runner included our very own Thomson trekker, Meghan Fischer. Fischer, an avid marathoner, ran a fantastic race – finishing in an impressive 24th place, she was the first non-African woman to cross the half-marathon finish line. Meghan shares her experiences below:
I ran the race the day before we started our trek up Kilimanjaro. Even though the Kili trek and safari were both so incredible, I have to say that the race was my favorite part of the trip. What I loved about the half marathon was that I really felt part of the African culture. I have been running long distance races since high school, so I have a deep respect for the many amazing marathon runners from Kenya, Ethiopia, etc. I really enjoyed being on their turf, for once, and comparing their races to American marathons.
It was really exciting to see all of the runners at the race start. All of the runners were incredibly welcoming. It really was a party atmosphere before the race even started.
The first half of the race was uphill toward the mountain. It was a steady uphill climb, but many locals came out and cheered us on. The second half of the race was running back down the roads we had run up, so it was a very fast finish.
I ended up being the 24th female to finish the half and the first non-African woman to finish. It was so much fun and such a beautiful setting for the race. I loved that throughout my run I could look to the summit of Kili and know that I would be there in a few days : ) I would highly recommend this race to all of my runner friends. I hope to someday do the Victoria Falls Half Marathon, too!
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