Some people travel to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro, others go to run around it.
The 2015 edition of the Kilimanjaro Stage Run is underway in Tanzania today, as trail runners from across the globe arrived there this weekend, and have now set out on a unique endurance event that takes place annually in the shadow of Africa's highest mountain.
The 10-day trip includes 8 days on the trail, during which time the runners travel on foot, completely circumnavigating Kili's base. Today, they'll cover 31 km (19.2 miles) over rough terrain, while also gaining 1798 meters (5898 ft) of elevation in the process. The following week will mark similar distances, and rises and falls in elevation as well. In all, they'll run 260 km (161 miles) over the course of the event as they make their way completely around the mountain.
The Kilimanjaro Stage Run is the brainchild of Tanzanian distance runner Simon Mtuy. It is now in its fourth year, and plan are already in place for it to take place once again in 2016. Simon has designed the route to showcase the mountain, as it also passes through numerous villages of the Chagga people, which have lived on the slopes of Kili for generations.
You can follow along with the event on Facebook and Twitter. The team will be posting updates on their adventure over the course of the next week, sharing their experiences from the trail. It should be quite the excursion for these runners to say the least.
While climbing Kilimanjaro is one of the best experiences I've ever had, this looks like it would be a great alternative for those who don't want to take on the altitude of going to the summit. Running 260 km through the African landscape would be an amazing challenge, and it is accessible to just about anyone who is is reasonably good shape. This run is on my bucket list for the future. I'd love to work it into my schedule at some point.
Find out more at TanzaniaTrailRunning.com.