Kilimanjaro Marathon

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Quest:

TransRockies Quest 888 (Quest #8)

  • 5 months (May to September 2013)

  • 9 trail running, mountain biking, road running and road biking events

  • Over 888 race kms

I woke up on the morning of Sunday March 3rd dead tired. I hadn't got much sleep and I had things to do before the start of the Kilimanjaro Marathon at 6.30am. Sue and I had arrived in Tanzania the previous week and my acclimatization was going well. I had been out on a couple of training runs, with my friend Lau Mafuru, on the trails and hills around Arusha. On Saturday we had driven east about 50km to Moshi, the location of the race. Before checking into the guest house we stopped at the race hotel to pick up my race package. After some administrative details were worked out about "had I paid?" we headed over to our accommodation.

At 4.30am Sunday I slipped out into the open court yard and prepared my water / CarboPro mix. Preparation is key to a successful marathon. I knew it was going to be hot so I needed to hydrate and cover myself in +30 SPF sun block. Millie, who worked in the bar area, dropped by and said that I could get breakfast in the restaurant. This was great as it was only 5.00am. Lau and I had agreed to meet at 5.15am but I started to tuck into papaya, water melon, avocado and bananas. This was followed by porridge and a boiled egg. 5.30am and no Lau. I went to his suite and called his name. He said he'd be right out. We were on our way at 5.35am and made one stop to pick up Lau's friends Kidori and Biggie. Biggie showed me one of the "Kilimanjaro Quest 95.2" shirts he had had printed and it looked great.

We arrived at the stadium at 6.10am and the place was hopping. Runners were stretching and chatting amongst themselves. Slowly the darkness lifted and a beautiful sunrise ensued. In the distance Mount Kilimanjaro was as clear as a bell with the glaciers shimmering in the sun light. At 6.25am the announcer told the runners to line up. Lau suggested I go to the front for a "media shot". I wasn't too sure this and around me were tall Kenyan and Tanzanian men and women. 3….2….1 bang! we were off. Elbows and knees were flying and I was swept along in a sea of bodies. 100m down the cinder track two runners fell and I tried to hurdle them. I didn't make it. I went sprawling in the dirt and several runners bashed into me as I tried to get up. Finally I was back on my feet and my marathon had begun. Lau, Kidori and myself fell into a good pace and the kilometres clicked by. The route is an out and back for 20kms to the east then out and back for the remaining 22.2kms to the west.

We started the race at 20C and it was quickly climbing. We made the half way point in 2hrs 10mins and the temperature hit 28C. The second half of the route took us up a steady incline for 11kms. Lau was struggling with a knee problem. He stopped a medical aid van and they gave him an Ibuprofen spray. Three kms later I stopped the same van and asked if they had some sun block? Sorry, no. It was going to be a long 15kms. I struggled from km 28 to km 31. The heat was taking its toll and I had cup after cup of Coke at the aid stations.

At 31km we reached the turning point. What a change. The route was down hill and the wind was blowing into my face. I suddenly felt strong and started to wheel it home. We had hoped to make it in 4hrs 40mins but the heat and the route put the kibosh to that. I figured we would be around 5hrs. Lau's feet were hurting, he wasn't happy with his Vibrams 5 fingers shoes. Kidori looked as fresh as a daisy. The lad is amazing.

We rolled into the stadium at just under 5hrs and the three of us crossed the line at 5hrs 00mins 23secs. Walking out of the finishers chute we were met by Sue and Leesha, Lau's wife. Then we were given our medal and T shirt. Post race food was BBQ chicken and fries, cooked on an open fire, followed by a Kilimanjaro beer, excellent. On the way out of the stadium we meet Jill, the race organizer. She mentioned that it was good we hadn't come in any earlier as it was a bit of a log jam with people pushing and shoving to get there medals.

Our merry gang walked back to the guest house under the shadow of Kilimanjaro. Part 1 of Kilimanjaro Quest 95.2 was completed. Lau, Kidori and I now had two day rest before we tackled part 2, an attempt to summit the highest mountain in Africa in 24hrs.

Quote of the Day

"A ship is safe harbour, but that's not what ships are for"

William Shedd

Mount Kilimanjaro in the background looking down on the start of the marathon

Kilimanjaro marathon

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