Location Entabeni Game Reserve, Limpopo Province, South Africa
Happening in: June
Race categories: Full Marathon, Half Marathon
Next on: June 24th, 2017Race website
First organised in 2005, the Big Five Marathon is an annual race that takes runners through Entabeni private game reserve. The Big Five refers to the five famous game animals: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. The course boasts magnificent savannah scenery while runners get the opportunity to run close to wildlife, even traversing lion territory. Safety is a non-issue however, with helicopter surveillance and armed rangers.
The Big Five Marathon is quite a tough race requiring a certain level of fitness and experience. It starts and finishes at Lakeside Lodge on the upper escarpment. The marathon starts at 9am, although the presence of wildlife near the route may cause delays. Kilometre markers are used for orientation, and marathon runners have 7 hours to complete the race (6h 45m for half-marathon runners), with cut-off times at 2 checkpoints en route. The surface varies from deep sand, dirt tracks and trails to paved roads and pebbly surfaces with holes, and the course will be ascending quite a lot from beginning to end. Weather conditions, the sun can be brutal on the open savannahs despite being in the wintertime.
The race has been enjoying a growing popularity, with an increasing number of participants each year. Nonetheless, the competition field is still small, with 123 finishes in 2014.