Where it all began….
Kili Marathon, to begin with, was simply an idea formed by event organiser Wild Frontiers in 2002, over a cold Kilimanjaro Lager, of a great way to draw tourism in to Tanzania – an iconic name and place for a marathon, using sport and a new marketing idea to attract runners to Tanzania, who would then climb the mountain, or go on safari after running the race.
Year one, after generating some marketing on a tiny budget, attracted a mix of a few ‘international’ runners coupled with local interest – and ended up with a field of about 300 – 400 runners in total who enjoyed the race. Back in 2003, the local interest from villagers was piqued and they came out to see what was going on in their quiet town so early on a Sunday morning. Children followed some of the athletes, there were goats on the side of the roads, part of the course was on dirt, but generally most people went about their morning activities – like any other Sunday.
We organised a full 42km and half marathon distance, and a 10 km – and timekeeping was done manually with stop-watches… it was quite easy with a small group of runners.
Today, the roads are brimming full with athletes – shoulder to shoulder at the start – as they pit for top honours. We now have, in addition to the Full and Half, a hugely popular Fun Run, ideal for families and people starting their running programme!.
Over the years, our main sponsor Kilimanjaro Premium Lager, together with other sponsors have helped us turn this tiny event into a monster – the sponsors have to claim a large part of the credit for this success. The race serves to test Tanzania’s upcoming top athletes, with world-class times being posted by these talented runners – as well as getting close to 12,000 runners over various distances, enjoying the morning out.
As well as being a great breeding ground for the local talent, the event draws quality runners from neighbouring countries, and from around the world – with up to 45 nationalities attending the event. Apart from the ‘sports ‘ element, the event has a big pay off in the region, with sponsors building their CSR around the event, and the economic benefits to the country and the region are huge. There is also a change of lifestyle across the country, with many more people taking up running, to keep healthy and socialise. Every true Tanzanian wants to participate in the “ Kili “ as it is known, and the medals are worn with pride from Tunduma to Taveta ………