Mount Kilimanjaro rises to 19,341 feet above sea level, making it the tallest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. The giant volcano towers over the small town of Moshi, Tanzania and serves as the background for the Kilimanjaro Marathon there each year. Two of Kilimanjaro’s three peaks are now extinct while Kibo, the highest point on the mountain, is dormant.
A climb up Kilimanjaro allows one to experience four seasons in four days because of the mountain’s height, proximity to the equator, and variations in climate. Climbers walk through farm, forest, alpine desert, and glacier before finally reaching the top. While the marathon takes place in and near Moshi town — and not on the mountain itself — Kilimanjaro surely is a prominent feature of the race.
[If you are interested in climbing Kilimanjaro during your visit to Tanzania, send us an email to see what we can custom design to suit your needs.]
The Kilimanjaro Marathon is run completely on paved roads, beginning and ending in the stadium of a Moshi university. Several aid stations dot the course, all of them offering water and some serving orange slices, sodas, and beer. The first half of the race is mostly flat and passes through several sections of Moshi town. The second half leaves town heading toward Mount Kilimanjaro — in terms of both direction and elevation. The roughly seven mile climb of 1300 feet offers a challenge to all runners, but promises beautiful views of Kilimanjaro over the sprawling fields of coffee and bananas. The last six miles are downhill to the finish. The entire race takes place between approximately 2700 and 4200 feet. [Red Knot guests will preview the full marathon course the day before the race.]
Spectators line much of the course, cheering the runners who have flocked to Moshi for the largest international event of every year. The Kilimanjaro Marathon draws quite the crowd of both elite and social racers. Prominent distance runners from numerous African nations proudly represent their countries — though the field is not made up of only sub-three hour speedsters. The lures of Mount Kilimanjaro and the nearby Serengeti ensure that runners from all over the world are present for a marathon that is a highlight of any runner’s career.
Are you traveling with a non-runner? No problem. We’ll be sure your travel partner is able to enjoy the race alongside other spectators, hold a sign for you on the course, and take plenty of live action photos.
The marathon finishes inside the stadium where Red Knot runners (and their non-running partners) will enjoy burgers, beers, and massages, as we swap stories of our Kilimanjaro Marathon experiences.
See Brett’s 2013 Kilimanjaro Marathon race report.
[Some runners may be interested to know that, in addition to the full marathon, a half-marathon — and even a 5k run — are offered. However, those half-marathoners may NOT be interested in knowing that the half-marathon course is the second half of the full marathon — long, slow climb and all.]
Kilimanjaro Marathon Elevation Chart