Big Five Marathon Big Five Marathon
21 June 2014, South Africa – The wildest of them all!

About The Big Five Marathon ®

A marathon is the runner’s paramount achievement – and The Big Five Marathon is the marathoner’s paramount achievement.
A race so tough, that a participant even calls it “harder than Comrades” – the notorious 88 km race in South Africa.

Read his full description of the Big Five Marathon here.

In return for The Big Five Marathon’s toughness, you get truly magnificent scenery and the chance to run with zebras, giraffes and antelopes and through the territory of a pack of lions.

You can read everything about the area, the course and results of former races by using the menu above.

Area description
" Goodbye. I am going to the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees..." wrote Kipling in his famous story "The Elephants Child". The national park represents the best of South Africa's spectacular nature with high mountains, ravines, savannas, forested savanna, rivers and lakes. The nature spreads out around the impressive Waterberg, one of the planet's oldest massifs and at the same time one of the few places in South Africa that combines a spectacular landscape with an abundance of wildlife including Africa's big game. Can you think of a more spectacular setting for a marathon.

Entabeni Game reserve
The tour includes game drives in 4x4 vehicles in the private Entabeni Game reserve, in The Limpopo province, which lies between Johannesburg and the Kruger National Park. From our safari lodge, with its spectacular view to the mighty Entabeni-monlith we have the opportunity to view all the "Big Five" as well as numerous other species such as Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Crocodiles and the many splendid species of Antelope, not to mention the abundance of birdlife. We use exclusive lodges that are placed in the middle of Entabeni and we need only to step outside to be on a safari.

The magnificent countryside in South Africa's northern Limpopo province close to Botswana and west of Kruger has long been known as Waterberg. The earlier settlers christened the territory "Waterberg" due to the countless lakes, swamps, waterfalls and rivers, which are a characteristic of this wilderness in contrast to the surrounding dry savanna. In the high season (December to February) dark thunderclouds gather over the plateau resulting in short, powerful downpours in the afternoon, which fill the many small and large streams, causing the redstone dunes to glimmer in the sun as the water makes its way to the Limpopo.

In 2001 the 15,000 square kilometre Waterberg Biosphere Reserve received international status as a part of UNESCOS global biosphere network. The landscape is typically savannah with a wet plateau in the middle which results in many different biotopes and with that also a unique diversity of species. Waterberg is not an individual reserve men consists of several private reserves, Entabeni being the largest and most diverse. Beautiful sandstone monoliths, ravines, and waterfalls lie all within Entabeni's borders. Entabeni is also known for a exceptional number of different antelope species, where nearly all of South Africa's species are represented. In addition there are an exceptional flora consisting of ancient cycads, protea and rare deciduous trees. The territory lies outside the malaria zone and therefore there is no reason to take anti malaria medicine.

Course outline
The start and finish line are both situated at Lakeside Lodge on the upper escarpment. After the start, the marathon as well as the half marathon routes take the runners past Ravineside Lodge, the Entabeni Monolith and further on to the lower plateau. The narrow and very steep Yellow Wood Valley is the sole connection between the escarpment and the plateau below. Our route takes us trough the valley – please be ware of the many loose stones on this part of the route. On the lower plateau the route takes the runners round in a circuit (in ”lion land”), before going up through the valley once again.

Back on the upper escarpment, the route home towards the finish line go through “The Loop” where we run through a small valley on a circular route of about 6 km between the valleys' two rock faces. There is a slight climb and corresponding descent as we exit the valley. A beautiful isolated valley with rare cycads. If you come across rhino we advise you to continue running (although quietly!).

The end of the run is fairly hard. We run halfway down the ridge, which provides us with a wonderful view out over the Plateau's lake. The route climbs steeply the rest of the way towards our goal and the surface is fairly bad, consisting of hard uneven stony ground with plenty of large rocks and stones of all sizes. It pays to keep a careful watch on the ground as we climb towards our goal. With the finish line in sight you can now take it nice and easy.

The weather is very dry, sunny and cool at this time of the year. Participants can expect an average temperature of around 15-20 Celsius, but with variations due to sun, shade, wind and altitude.

Cut-off times
To ensure runners’ safety three cut off points have been established on the route:

Cut-off 1 - 25,5 km – 4 hours 15 minutes after the start
Cut-off 2 - 31,5 km – 5 hours 15 minutes after the start
Cut-off 3 – Finish line – 7 hours after the start

Half Marathon
Cut-off 1 - 10,5 km – 4 hours after the start
Cut-off 2 - 16,5 km – 5 hours after the start
Cut-off 3 – Finish line – 6 hours 45 minutes after the start

Runners who haven’t reached the cut-off points in time will not be allowed to continue and will be picked up by a ranger vehicle and taken back to the finish line. The cut-off times are strictly enforced to keep everybody safe!

Age limits
Please note following age limits:
Marathon and half marathon: Minimum 18 years old on race day

General Terms and Conditions
By signing the entry form you agree to the general terms and conditions of Albatros Travel, which can be seen here

The Big 5 Marathon route

Altitude chart

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