GUEST EDITOR Two separate invites, both providing the opportunity to return to the African continent (a dream of mine since I left seven years ago), both adventures that would take a bit of trust in the details and the unknowns, believing that it would all work out. Invite number one and the chance to be a part of The Ultra Inspired Tour around South Africa giving talks/presentations to trail running groups in Cape Town, Storms River and Durban, as well as getting to race the Otter African Trail Run. Invite number two, and more important to this issue, the opportunity to join a small group of Simon Mtuyâ€™s friends to run around Mt. Kilimanjaro on the first circumnavigation ever. It seemed these two trips were meant to be as my time in South Africa ended on October 17th and my time in Tanzania began the morning of the 19th - one travel day landed perfectly in-between and already it was working out.
Image Andrew King
Three flights and 19 hours of travel, I landed at the Kilimanjaro airport at 11pm to be greeted by SENEâ€™s driver Joseph. I tried to rally in the conversation, but am sure I fell asleep mid-sentence now and again. The final miles on a 4-wheel drive necessary road woke me up and gave an awesome core workout trying to keep my body in my seat as we bounced up to the Mbahe Cottages. A steep walk down to the faint light of the cottage, warm roasted cashews, and a surprise hug from Simon were an amazing midnight welcome. My arrival felt official and dreamy. When I woke the next morning and could hear voices around the breakfast table, even before I opened my eyes, I had to think twice about where I was. Looking around I vaguely remembered walking through the dark garden by headlamp to arrive in my room.
I retraced my steps and followed the sound of the voices to the gathering table and my new friends. This was the start to our eight-day adventure around the Roof of Africa! Each a complete stranger to me and each other, the smiles on each of their faces told me all I needed to know – this was going to be amazing. Each adventurer seemed to slip into the daily rhythm without issue. It was incredible to be with a group of people, run all day, eat awesome meals and never be interrupted by phone calls, texting, emails, etc. Our presence without distractions allowed us to form bonds quickly. Big miles and adventurous trails enhanced that bond as our group stuck together, helped each other through and rolled with the terrain and experiences each day brought.
My biggest takeaway from this trip was the opportunity to completely unplug (my iPhone battery lasted the entire eight days – I rarely used it!) and therefore be completely in the moment. The stories in this special edition issue reflect the hopes I had for this trip – to trust that things will all work out as well as an opportunity to escape technology and reunite with the basics. Sometimes to have the most amazing adventures you have to put a bit of trust in the details you can’t control. This motto plus the amazing freedom learned by unplugging now and again are both lessons I am taking forward as we start this new year. Sometimes it takes a big adventure to teach us the little things.
Kilimanjaro Stage Run Edition Page
In This Issue
PG 06 Meeting the Visionary PG 10 Giving back to the people of Kilimanjaro PG 12 Photo Journal : Kili in Colour PG 22 10 Days in Africaâ€“The route breakdown PG 28 A message from the Organisers On the Cover: Simon Mtuy Images: Andrew King Designer: Simphiwe Mathunjwa
This photo: Simon Mtuy at full stride through the pine forests on stage 4
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Kilimanjaro Stage Run Edition Page
Meeting The Visionary In the words of Simon Mtuy
was brought up on the foothills of Kilimanjaro, with four brothers and five sisters. Education was not a priority for my parents at that time. However we did learn the most important attribute from working on the land - to be hard working. After my primary education I started working on the mountain, first as a porter and soon later as a mountain guide. My father really wanted me to join the police, to follow in the footsteps of one of my uncles, but it was not a natural connection for me and willingly I left the police academy. One thing I did take away from my
All Images > Andrew King brief involvement with the the police was a new found passion for running and I was very eager to continue developing this new interest. One of my coaches said to me “you from Wachagga [my tribe] people don’t run”. The Wachagga are the most industrious tribes among the 125 tribes in Tanzania. They are well educated, business oriented and many end up in politics. But this never stopped me from running as I knew the sport doesn’t require you to have much (shoes and perhaps clean water). I first tried to run road races were I was able to finish my PR
for 42km in 2hr 27minutes which is the best I could ever do in my life. This was serious training and not a joke! I ran the hills, the flat and my body felt like it couldn’t stop but my legs wanted to stop. Being 6ft 4” and 165lb at the time it was not possible to actually make a living out of running. I had no choice, road running was not the best cup of tea for me. I later had an opportunity to visit California where I was introduced to trail running (although I had already been running trails in Kilimanjaro but didn’t know it was an actual exciting sport).
“My vision for road and trail running in Tanzania is very bright.” When I arrived in the US I was given a phone number of a race director, John Medinger, who was one of the founders of the classic 100km race, Miwok, in the Marin Headlands. He asked me about my running background and simply I told him that I am a mountain guide in Kilimanjaro and had done some marathons. He signed me up for the race which was the following Saturday (it was Monday when I spoke to him).... I had to learn to train very quickly! I did a 3 hr run on Tuesday, 4 hours on Wednesday and 5 hours on Thursday. I rested on Friday and the race
was on Saturday. I figured with the 2hr 27minute marathon I could easily win the race in 7 hours. Coming from East Africa however, I did not know that I needed to eat along the way. When the gun goes off, we just run from start to finish with only water. But I soon learned this was not possible with such distances. After the first 50km, although I was still in the front pack, I felt like I need someone to show me the direction and my legs got very tired. At the 60km mark I was really in trouble, the thick layer of salt on my face a testament to the rapid loss of water. Someone asked
if I was drinking enough and I said “no”. I had to start drinking! In those days there were no GO2o… only Coke and Power bars. Toward 75km, a number of runners had passed me and this was not going to be a race with an African winner. I was always told Africans must win the race... maybe it was not true! In the end the winner of that race, Scott Jurek, did it in 8hr 45minutes. I finished in 11hr. That was where I discovered my territory. Since then my personal record on the race is 9hrs 30min, 8 time finisher of Miwok 100km. Named for one of the American Indian tribes, Miwok, has given Kilimanjaro Stage Run Edition Page
me spirit for the trails. Two years later I discover the Western States Endurance Run (WS100). Now 12 years later in 2013, I will finish my 10th WS100. I will be the only international runner to finish 10 times and certainly the one to travel the furthest distance to this famous trail. Back in my home where I do my training on Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, I set the world record for the fastest ascent and descent unsupported record. My vision for road and trail running in Tanzania is very bright. I would like to see many Tanzanians taking running more seriously again like the days
Kilimanjaro Stage Run Edition Page
of Juma Ikangaa, Filbert Bayi. It has been my biggest dream to bring my experiences of trail running to Tanzania and introduce it to other Tanzanian runners... bringing these worlds together and allowing international trail runners to enjoy the beauty of my country. This led me to develop the Kilimanjaro Stage Run. In the years to come I also hope to start both the Kilimanjaro 100km and 100 mile events on the foothills of Kilimanjaro. This for sure would be my ultimate dream come true. These dreams are not possible to do on
my own. But with the enthusiasm and support of international trail running connections it definitely will happen. If we want the sport to grow to the greatest, then we must get Tanzania/ Africa high on trail runners lists. Historically trail running has not included diverse populations including Africans and I wish to introduce the sport to Tanzanians and see them win more than marathons. I want to set up running workshops for Tanzanian runners who will be the winners for the Kilimanjaro 100km and 100 mile. I want to be the Tanzanian role model for runners and open the eyes of the youth to explore the beauty of their country through trail running. This is all my dream vision.
â€œIf we want the sport to grow to the greatest, then we must get Tanzania/Africa high on trail runners listsâ€?
Giving back to the people of
imon has lived his whole life on Mount Kilimanjaro and he is sensitive to the environmental changes that he has observed over time. Because he started working as a porter when he was very young, he has noticed that the trails up the mountain are no longer as quiet and pristine as they once were. Instead, there is often heavy human traffic and garbage visible on the trails to the summit. He hopes to divert traffic up the mountain to the quiet lower slopes by hosting clients on biking and running trips that encircle the mountain. Exploring the lower slopes of the mountain is also a culturally immersive experience where local people outnumber tourists. Unfortunately, things aren’t perfect on the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro either. Dramatic deforestation is changing the climate of the entire region. Local people cut down trees on the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro for a number of reasons: for firewood, to make charcoal, to create more agricultural land or to harvest honey. These are people who are trying to eke out a living, but it is hard for them to see the longterm effects of deforestation. The trees on the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro are an important part of the cloud forest ecosystem. Trees, especially the endemic “Erica” trees of Kilimanjaro, trap the clouds
of the cloud forest and the condensation flows downwards, creating small streams that irrigate the farms and reservoirs at the base of Kilimanjaro. The cloud forest keeps the lower slopes of the mountain cool and hydrated; perfect for agriculture. Without trees to trap the clouds, the clouds float up and sometimes all the way over Mount Kilimanjaro, depositing moisture high on the mountain, where it is absorbed before it can flow down to the farms and reservoirs. Clouds settling at higher elevations also means that temperatures are higher and everything is dryer at lower elevations, making farming less feasible. http://www.trust.org/ alertnet/news/deforestation-fuels-temperaturehikes-around-mt-kilimanjaro/ As someone who owns a farm on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, Simon Mtuy cannot ignore the dramatic environmental changes that have evolved within his lifetime. Simon teaches local people about the importance of reforestation and about sustainable farming techniques. For instance, honey is a staple of the African diet, and in that region, honey is traditionally harvested by smoking bees out of their hives by burning down the trees in which they live. The burning often gets out of control and starts wildfires on the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Simon’s grandfather taught him how to make bee boxes with removable shelves for harvesting honey combs. Simon has shared this technique with many local farmers and his work
with bees is highlighted in the National Geographic Simon is also transitioning the guest houses from television special “Kilimanjaro: the Honey Bee” generator power to solar power. He has recently installed a solar powered hot water heater and is Simon and the ultra runners also plant trees in hoping to replace the electricity generator with villages on the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in solar powered electricity. Simon is working to order to set a standard for reforesting Kilimanjaro. make Mbahe Farm as eco-friendly as possible They got Marangu village leaders involved in by transforming some long-term unsustainable planting the trees, and they hope to inspire tourists practices of the wider community as well as retrofitting modern low-carbon technologies to the and locals alike to plant and care for trees. Finally, Simon keeps his farm in Mbahe on the lower guest cottages. slopes of Kilimanjaro as low impact environmentally as possible. Mbahe Farm is the base of Simon’s beekeeping project, and all of the plants here are farmed organically, without pesticides or herbicides.
SENE's Small Initiatives
We use GoalZero solar kits to recharge our electronics on the mountain Use solar water heater at Mbahe farm Planted indigenous tree saplings (10 per participant) during the Kilimanjaro Stage Run Rely on digital communications (we do not mail printed brochures) Sends clients to the Chumbe Island Coral Park Eco Lodge— one of the top 10 eco lodges in the world
This Image > Kate Thomas All Journal Images > Andrew King
Kilimanjaro Stage Run Edition Page
Simon's mother and father live just next door to the guest cottages.
â€œWatching and interacting with the people around the mountain was incredibly special.â€? Krissy Moehl
â€œSimon is, of course, the outsize personality that made this such a memorable event. He has the ability to put anyone at ease, whether it be a foreign visitor overwhelmed on a virgin trip to Africa, or local youth we encounter along the route.â€? Tim Leinbach
â€œI think what made the most impact on me was the people that we encountered. We met Masai warriors, with their bright red robes and beads, that ran along side of us for a bit, sharing a mutual curiosity.â€œ
â€œRunning on, we discovered the deep blue sky, the diverse land and ecology, and the beautiful people of the great mountain of Kilimanjaro. Each offered a unique lens with which to reveal reflections of all of this in ourselves, to return home with a piece of Africa in our souls.â€? Jake Zmrhal
Days In Africa
A stage by stage break down
Arrival Mbahe will be your base for run preparation and orientation. Accommodations are in SENE’s private cottages on Simon Mtuy’s family farm. The Mbahe Village cottages sit on the edge of a ridge at about 1900 meters on the southeastern flanks of Kilimanjaro. You can see snow-capped Kibo on clear mornings and views down to the plains below, with Lakes Chala and Jipe to the south east, the northern edge of the Pare Mountain range to the south, and the Simanjiro plains to the south west. It’s a great place to rest, relax, get away from our 24/7 wired world, and start to
get into the rhythm of daily life in rural Tanzania. Day 1 begins with an orientation meeting, followed by a tour of the farm. Light run to explore the village and mountain trails. Lunch and afternoon rest. Feel free to explore the farm, swim in the Moonjo River waterfall, or relax with a good book and a cup of “homebrew” coffee (grown and roasted on the farm). Admire the sweeping mountain views, which include Lake Chala, a picturesque volcanic crater on the KenyaTanzania border. Dinner and additional run details and logistics.
Day 2 31km
Elevation Gain 1798m / 5900ft Garmin Map > CLICK HERE
Day 3 31km
Elevation Gain 914m / 3000ft Garmin Map > CLICK HERE
Run Stage 1
Today we cross dozens of streams Run Stage 1: Today you cross dozens of streams and rivers, many with deep gorges to descend and ascend, while keeping Mawenzi, Kilimanjaro’s second peak, on your left and Kenya’s Tsavo National Park to your right. A great introduction to the run as the views of the mountain are stunning. After starting from Marangu Gate you have several kilometres of fairly sustained running on good trails. Some steep sections require that you slow down,
and some people walk in order to conserve energy, but it is all very runnable. After you leave the settled area around Marangu after a kilometre, you enter the forest, which is very quiet and desolate. There are two memorable gorges on this day’s run. One has slopes mainly of grass and boulders, with a beautiful stream at the bottom and vertigo-inducing switchbacks. The other, near the end of the day, is a never-ending primeval forest with monkeys.
Run Stage 2
Run Stage 2: As you approach Kilimanjaro’s drier north-east flank, the number and depth of the gorges lessen, as do the number of settlements. You may encounter colobus and blue monkeys in the forests. The route runs along a paved road abutting the Kenyan border for a few kilometres. After a great night camping on a primary school grounds, the running starts where it left off the day before, on some steep up-and-down, though nothing as deep as the previous day. For many sections you will pass
through scrub brush that are used both by domesticated cattle being led to pasture and by wild buffalo roaming in and out of the forest. By the afternoon you will have reached the north-east shoulder of the mountain, where rich pine forest await. These are mostly planted trees for harvesting, but they provide a beautiful cool running environment with soft pine needles, the sweet smell of evergreens, and a very quiet space.
Day 4 33km
Elevation Gain 378m / 1240ft Garmin Map > CLICK HERE
Day 5 39km Elevation Gain 1067m / 3500ft Garmin Map > CLICK HERE
Run Stage 3
The forest thins and we run Run Stage 3:The forest thins and you run through a dry and rocky landscape, passing Maasai settlements and with the chance to see wildlife migrating from the plains below to mountainside above. To your right are open plains leading to Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks in Kenya, sparse crop-land tilled by the more settled Maasai and other ethnic groups who have moved to the area, but mostly open land where wildlife roam and the
Run Stage 4
Exiting the sparse landscape, we Run Stage 4: Exiting the sparse landscape, you skirt Legumishera Hill, which contains a small lake at the summit and is the source of much local superstition. The first part of our run continues where it left off the previous day â€“ along an undulating rock-strewn dirt road with few vehicles and many more Maasai in their traditional red and purple shuka cloths. You then run several hilly kilometres along the forest edge between Kilimanjaro National Park and indigenous cultivated land. Before long the
pastoral Maasai live. Your campsite at a primary school overlooks Amboseli, where the only light comes from the stars above and the few safari lodges within the park. After a cool down and long rest you will enjoy a sponge bath and a filling meal. As the sun sets, the sky lights up with stars in this non-electrified expanse, hopefully catching a glimpse of the moonlight glowing off the Kilimanjaro snow cap.
stage will transition to yet another running environment, this time along farmland carved out of the forest belonging to some of the old colonial farms still operating to produce grain crops. Youâ€™ll finish the day at Simba Farm, one of the original European farms in Tanganyika Territory. The farm grows wheat and barley for local breweries and market produce for Arusha Town. From the dining area you will have spectacular sunset views of Mount Meru.
Day 6 46km
Elevation Gain 1828m / 6000ft Garmin Map > CLICK HERE
Day 7 35km Elevation Gain 2195m / 7200ft Garmin Map > CLICK HERE
Run Day 5
Run Stage 5: Today is the longest stage. You begin with a steady ascent into the forest reserve where active timber harvesting continues. From the forested areas, we will then run on all kinds of paths, through scrub-land, along smallholder farm plots, across dry stream beds, on a well-worn trail through some native forest, and then eventually came upon the edge of the more densely settled villages that are common along the whole southern flank of Kilimanjaro. This is where you
Run Day 6
Run Day 6: Today you encounter our steepest valleys and ridges above a densely settled area of smallholder Arabica coffee farms that use centuries-old irrigation canals dug along the mountainside. The day will begin with a run through the densely settled villages of Machame, with intercropping of banana, coffee, beans, maize, and vegetables. Each village has its own primary school, each with its own distinctive uniform colour for the students. The distance as the crow flies is not far, but because of the rivers, valleys, and ridges, and the predominant direction of roads and paths up-and-down the mountain (perpendicular to our desired direc-
will see many small vegetable plots, banana groves, and Chagga homesteads (the Chagga are the tribe that have settled all the southern slopes of Kilimanjaro; Simonâ€™s tribe). You then exit to a hot and dry lowland stretch, and finally return to the verdant southern slopes of Kilimanjaro. Your camp site on this night will be a gorgeous secluded glade next to a bubbling rock-strewn brook in a small gorge with deep green sides. Very pretty and very quiet.
tion of across the mountain), you will take a round-about route as we zigzag our way across the mountain. You are rewarded by pretty villages interspersed with sections of forest. Tonightâ€™s camp is at a somewhat ramshackle lodge at about 2200 meters with the most superb view of Moshi Town and environs seen anywhere on the mountain. The place needs better TLC, but the views are unbeatable. You will camp on their grounds, enjoy their hot showers, and eat another great dinner (prepared, as always, by our incomparable head chef Kiplet and his crew) in the lodge dining area.
Day 8 24km Elevation Gain 1920m / 6300ft Garmin Map > CLICK HERE
Day 9 21km Elevation Gain 762m / 2500ft Garmin Map > CLICK HERE
Run Day 7
Run Day 7: You are treated to another day of ridges and valleys through forested areas with only a few settlements, where you feel like the first Wazungu (white people) to have ever visited. One of the less remote sections is the upper reaches of Mweka Village, where you will pass a farm that Simon owns, and where he is raising goats and cows and growing vegetables, and eventually hopes to build a home. This is also the area of the very busy Mweka exit gate to the park where you may encounter groups of porters lounging about
after a few hard days climbing up Kilimanjaro. Our final camp is at another primary school high on the mountain at the uppermost edge of the local village, Kidia, which was the site of the first European settlement in the Kilimanjaro region. The original church and mission station are still intact. Each mountain ridge in this area is either predominantly Lutheran or Catholic, depending on the original missionary group operating there.
Run Day 8
Run Day 8: Today is thankfully short with only a couple steep valleys through which we pass. After ascending through a quiet forest path – reminiscent of the pine forest encountered way back on day 2 (which seems like eons ago), you come to an old road that once was a main link between upper villages on this section of the mountain, but now rarely used except by rangers on patrol. Running high above the villages and just outside the national park boundary, your final day brings even more
spectacular views. Shortly after mid-day we start to enter more familiar territory as you reach Mbahe Village and pass above Simon’s guest cottages. But you cannot stop here yet as you must complete the circumnavigation by continuing the extra 2 kilometres to the Marangu gate. It’s then a joyous return to Mbahe, where you started 7 days ago. Congratulations, you ran around the Roof of Africa! Celebrate with a leap into the river, hot shower, cold beer . . . or all three!
Rest, recovery, and relaxation day
at the farm. It is a chance to reflect on the incredible journey you have just been through as you exchange experiences with your fellow runners. Itâ€™s also to say your goodbyes to the locals and Simonâ€™s family at Mbahe Village. Those returning home will be transferred to the Kilimanjaro International Airport. Those staying in Tanzania may go on safari, depart for Zanzibar, or spend an extra night at Mbahe. Karibu!!!
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A message from the organizers >>> Personalities on the Run
an organizer of this first annual event, I was nervous about how the trip would unfold. Would our team of runners come together as a cohesive group? Would they be able to do the whole run? And, most of all, after traveling a long distance to Tanzania and spending the money to get here, would they have fun??? Would we have people who could find fun and joy during long days of unrelenting hard running? I knew Steve Villager from his 2010 visit to Tanzania and was confident in his high energy and positive upbeat attitude about everything. This would be of great benefit during the long running days and if we encountered inclement weather, lost the trail, or any other unexpected difficulties. When Steve, Simon, and I spent a few days in 2010 running and scouting part of the route, Simon and I got into several heated “discussions” about the appropriate trail and level of difficulty. In no uncertain terms I expressed my doubts about what Simon was trying to develop. (This was very much a clash of “running cultures” as Simon was creating an adventurous route with ultra-marathon trail runners in mind, while I was coming from my road runner’s perspective, where the routes are smooth and flat, and one can keep a fast steady pace for miles. I certainly did not foresee runners enjoying scrambling up and down steep trails as part of the run. I have since been disabused of my narrow definition of what a defines a good run.) Steve, who understood well our two different perspectives, always managed to intervene to validate each person’s side in the debate - and worked to find common ground between us. It helped that
he always thought each of our ideas were great. In fact, in Steve’s worldview, everything is great. With that attitude and unwavering enthusiasm I knew that Steve would be a wonderful positive influence on the group. This proved to be true throughout the 8-day run. In addition, I quickly learned that his partner, Kate, whom I met for the first time on this trip, and who would not be running, but riding in the support vehicle, also possessed a preternaturally sunny disposition and positive outlook. She quickly established herself as a welcoming presence at each rest stop, as she would hop out of the vehicle or come running down the trail to us with congratulations, a 100-megawatt smile, and ready to offer drinks and snacks as we stumbled the last few meters. We quickly learned to look for Kate near the end of each long stretch, knowing that she would be a beacon of light and a sign that the end of a section of trail was upon us.
“The joys that the locals expressed when encountering us running really stood out for me.” I met Jerry and Jake in the van en route from the Kilimanjaro International Airport to Mbahe Village. I immediately found Jerry to be very personable and super enthusiastic and excited about being in Tanzania. Though the eldest in our group, he was like a kid in a candy store enjoying all the new sights, sounds, encounters, and environments with equal glee and wonder. “The joys that the locals expressed when encountering us running really stood out for me” comments Jerry. “With so little material wealth, they seemed to be abundantly happy and took time to greet us and one another. Sharing Simon’s dream to run around Kili was so powerful. He made us feel like he was so thrilled that we could share this event with him. That spirit spilled over to his employees and the rest of the participants.”
Jake was quieter and more pensive, and proved to be an inspiration to us all at the end. He endured severe tendinitis in his left leg for the last two days, but gamely soldiered on. On these days his pace slowed considerably, and he barely hobbled up the final 100 yards to the Marangu gate, but there he was – bound and determined to complete the whole circuit loop. Simon is, of course, the outsize personality that made this such a memorable event. He is easygoing, has a great sense of humor that quickly cuts across cultural barriers, is a font of local knowledge, and a good and interested listener that makes each person feel like his oldest best friend - even if just meeting him for the first time. Simon has the ability to put anyone at ease, whether it be a foreign visitor overwhelmed on a virgin trip to Africa, or local youth we encounter along the route. And he maintains his wonderful positive spirit throughout an adventure’s ups and downs. Kilimanjaro Stage Run Edition Page
One memorable encounter, courtesy of Simon, was during one of the many long and steep switchback ascents on a foot wide trail coming out of a gorgeous lush valley on the southern slopes of the mountain. About a quarter of the way up we came upon an ageless grandma carrying an enormous bundle of sticks on her head. She was walking slowly and clearly burdened by her load. Simon greeted her respectfully, spoke some rapid-fire Swahili that produced an instant chuckle and enamored her to him. The next thing we know he has shifted her load onto his head and starts charging up the slope. We all followed behind as best we could while Simon seemed to get stronger as he ascended. I managed only barely to keep ahead of the now light-footed old woman. Upon reaching the ridge we all took the opportunity to try the load on our heads. It must have weighed at least 50 pounds and immeasurably difficult to stabilize while standing still â€“ not even to imagine doing it while walking on an uneven trail. We had no idea how Simon, much less the old woman, could manage it on the steep and narrow slope. Simon and grandma exchanged a few final pleasantries, she took up her bundle and headed home along the ridge, as we proceeded down the other side and onto our next adventure. In addition to Simon, there were four other Tanzanian runners with us. Two departed camp before sunrise each morning to set the trail with ribbon, while two others stayed with the group as supporting guides. The most memorable of these was Iddi. His face was deeply creased â€“ showing more than his 40 years, yet he was incredibly fit and trim. He was always there at the front or the back of the group, making sure we were keeping up, running together, or otherwise enjoying ourselves. When in the lead he set a strong steady pace, and he seemed like he could go on for miles without stopping. His English was somewhat limited, and so he came across as quiet and stoic. This worked well when he took on a leadership role second to Simon - acting firmly and decisively, when necessary, yet he was incredibly encouraging and supportive when the group needed that. Iddi never seemed to require much to eat or drink, except maybe a little tea and bread, to sustain him throughout the eight days.
The Of The Event e were very pleased with the way this inaugural run went. The group of foreign runners was small, but very enthusiastic, and they were all blown away by the experience. They often reiterated that they realized there was so much more to the event than just the run. We were very encouraged by that response. So, first, we definitely want to make this an annual event and, with a few small tweaks to the route, keep it the same. We hope/expect to have a larger group for 2013, with perhaps a dozen foreign runners. For this event we would need to keep the group small, with perhaps a maximum of 16 nonTanzanian runners. As the group grows to this size we will need to fine-tune the logistics so that we can have 2-4 subgroups of runners (arranged by pace), each led by a Tanzanian runner who knows the route. In addition to Simon, we had two Tanzanian runners who ran with the group and two others who set the trail each day (with ribbons). These four can form a good core group of Tanzanian runners to support this event. While these Tanzanians are strong runners and enjoyed running on the trail, we need to develop enthusiasm for trail running among more Tanzanians for the pleasure of the activity – to encourage and develop a trail running culture. This will not be easy. Part of the purpose of this running event around Kilimanjaro is to just make people aware that it exists - that running trails is a fun activity - and that Tanzanians can see people doing it. Importantly for locals – adults and children alike – is to see not only that people are running the trails, but that Tanzanians are doing that running. In all Simon’s training runs he also acts as an ambassador for the sport as he explains to people what he is doing and why
he is doing it. We would like to encourage the other Tanzanians who participated in the Stage Run to adopt this attitude and promote the sport through their own running and their own speaking with people in the villages where they run. We also would like to encourage sedentary Tanzanian urban-dwellers (in Moshi, Arusha, Dar, etc.) to see that running on trails is a good form of physical fitness and, importantly, an opportunity to see parts of Tanzania that they may never otherwise know or experience. This goal of drawing more Tanzanians into the sport will be a long and slow process. With more immediate potential is developing the stage run and other running activities around Kilimanjaro that can then encourage the global trail running community to recognize Tanzania as a great running destination. This can be done in different ways and can take many forms, as described below. Kilimanjaro Stage Run Edition Page
An important purpose of the trail run is to open up new areas for tourist exploration. Tanzania has much more beauty and many more adventure challenges than just climbing up Kilimanjaro or the magnificent safari parks. Very few tourists go beyond the national parks or their hotels and lodges. Hence, they see a highly non-representative side of Tanzania – only those confined spaces allotted for wildlife or for climbing, and interact only with their guides on the mountain or safari and a handful of employees at their hotels/lodges. This running event brings the runner-tourists into the villages, onto the farms, and along the paths and roads, where Tanzanians live, work, and travel every day. The run immerses them in the culture. In contrast to trail runs in North America, Europe, and elsewhere, the run is NOT in wilderness areas, national parks, or remote trails far from humanity. Many of the trails and roads we run on go through or along the edges of villages, fields, and so on. We camp overnight at primary schools or other sites within the villages. Thus, the immersion in these local spaces, where we meet people on equal footing, literally as foot travelers (and not ensconced in huge safari vehicles) offers the opportunity of a more equal encounter. The experience is a highly unique,
personal, and authentic interaction, and occurs in a location where Tanzanians can meet foreigners in their home environment (and not in spaces designed for tourists – i.e. hotels, parks, etc.). In this way Tanzanians may also realize that they have something of value for outsiders to see and to share. It is true eco-tourism and cultural tourism – nothing artificial, nothing contrived. We are realistic that this is a very small group and once-a-year activity, so the tourism potential is small. Still, it is a start, and can be a model for others. And from this stage run we would like to see growth in other trail running (and walking) activities for those who prefer a different level of intensity. Specifically, from this route, we would like to develop a top-notch trail for races from 50km to 100 miles. The stage run allows us the opportunity to explore and test possible routes and to identify good start and end points, as well as consider the logistical, geographical, and cultural challenges of a 12 – 24 hour running race in this environment. And for people who may like to run (but not a marathon a day for several days) and for those who may prefer to walk the trails, we expect to develop shorter multi-day trips that
involve less intense runs (10 â€“ 20km per day, for example) and hikes over these trails. These would open up the route and this type of exploration to a broader spectrum of adventurers. These milder activities would also allow for more time to explore, investigate, and interact with the people along the route and the environment. These might be 3 â€“ 7 day excursions covering a portion of the Kilimanjaro circuit. It would also have appeal to people who like to hike but do not have the interest or ability to climb to the top of Kilimanjaro, but would prefer a more culturally-oriented hiking experience. Some multiday hikes have been developed on a limited basis in the Ngorongoro Conservation area, as well as the Usambara Mountains (Lushoto area). Kilimanjaro
Visit the SENE website
offers a superior (and untapped) opportunity for hiking because of its proximity to the Kilimanjaro International Airport, the towns of Arusha and Moshi, and the obvious global draw of Kilimanjaro. Finally, over time, as we (and particularly Simon) build this route and other running routes on the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro, we expect to have a set of GPS routes available for runners to use. There are many foreign residents in northern Tanzania who run and who would benefit from knowing that these wonderful routes exist. But more than that, having a set of established routes will encourage runners worldwide to see what Tanzania and the Kilimanjaro region has to offer.
Visit the Tanzanian trail running website
Kilimanjaro Stage Run Edition Page
In 2012, a small group of ultra runners, including top American female ultra-runner Krissy Moehl, pioneered the way for trail running in the...
Published on Feb 18, 2013
In 2012, a small group of ultra runners, including top American female ultra-runner Krissy Moehl, pioneered the way for trail running in the...