All Kenyans run. It is a misconception we have learned to live with because athletics is what puts Kenya on the world sports map, apart from our rugby Shujaa 7s heroes. Show us any long-distance running event and we will tell you the Kenyans who won that event, sometimes a record number of times and in record time. In 2018, Marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge broke the world record at the Berlin Marathon by running it within 2 hrs 1 min 39 s, a record that was previously held by another Kenyan Dennis Kimetto (2.02. 57) set in 2014, who in turn had broken the record of another Kenyan Wilson Kipsang (2.03.23) who had broken the record set by another Kenyan Patrick Makau (2.03.38).
Here are the 8 must attend marathons in Kenya 2019 which you can participate in either as a competitor or enter the family runs which are not competitive. The numbering does not indicate order of importance.
Lewa Conservancy Marathon 2019
Date: Saturday, June 19
Place: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
This is one of the most breathtaking marathons in Kenya which attracts participants from across the world. Runners are allowed to savour the wildlife in the conservancy during the run. There are categories for elite and amateur runners as well as family runs. The elite running category is competitive just like any other world marathon event. The marathon also acts as a fundraising event for wildlife conservation, dubbed Tusk’s Marathon and Half Marathon. This year it will be sponsored by telecommunication giant Safaricom.
To learn more and register, click HERE
Ndakaini Half Marathon 2019
Date: Saturday, September 14
Place: Ndakaini Dam in Murang’a county
The Ndakaini Half Marathon 2019 will be in its 16th edition. The marathon has been sponsored by UAP Old Mutual Insurance since its inception in 2004 but the organisers have to find a new sponsor for the 2019 edition. The amazing greenery and dam view around which the course runs is a major attraction for people of all ages and races. The dam is at the foot of the Aberdares mountain ranges about 70km from Nairobi. The fun filled event has categories for children, men and women, elite runners and amateurs, as well as corporates. It also serves as an avenue for fundraising for tree planting and dam conservation. To catch on the latest and registration, visit their website HERE.
Kakamega Forest Marathon 2019
Date: To be confirmed. Normally held in November
Place: Kakamega Rain Forest in Shinyalu constituency
Kakamega Forest Marathon, dubbed Ingo Marathon takes one through the only surviving rain forest in Kenya, about 400km west of Nairobi. Held towards the end of every year, the race includes both the 42km full marathon and the 21km half marathon. Other attractions include the bicycle challenge where cyclists use ungeared bicycles popularly known as the black mamba. Children and families compete in the Toto challenge for ages 7 – 10 years. Like all other nature-based races, the marathon works towards the conservation of the endangered rain forest that borders the quiet Kakamega town. Participants are also treated to a pre-race bullfighting event, a popular cultural practice among the Isukha people, as well as isukuti dance. For more information on how you can participate, visit the organiser’s website HERE.
Kass International Marathon 2019
Date: To be confirmed. Normally held in November or December
Place: Kapsabet – Eldoret road
The Kass Marathon happens in the heart of the home of champions, taking you from the town of Kapsabet town and finishing in Eldoret, about 300 kilometres west of Nairobi. It is one of the most competitive marathons for elite runners as many use it for entry into international stardom. Kapsabet and Eldoret are high altitude areas where big names train before conquering the world, including the likes of Mo Farah. In 2019, the 21km race will be introduced to add to the traditional categories of 5km, 10km, and 42km. Family runs and corporates runs are also included. For more details on registration, visit their website HERE.
Mombasa International Marathon 2019
Date: Sunday, September 22
Place: Mombasa City
Mombasa is a renowned tourist destination for both locals and foreigners. It is a city close to historical sites such as the Gede ruins in Malindi, and Fort Jesus in Old Town. Apparently, Mombasa International Marathon is one of the oldest marathons in Kenya. This event offers an opportunity to take part in a marathon at the fringes of the Indian Ocean, where you can bask afterwards on the sandy beaches after a run along the long Nyali bridge that gives you a clear view of the Indian Ocean. The temperatures here are quite high, hitting up to 29 degrees Celcius in September when the marathon happens, so you have to be adaptable. The event has been sponsored by Safaricom for the last 11 years and this year might be no different. Keep it here for registration details.
Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon
Date: Sunday, October 27
Place: Nairobi City
If you are unable to get to participate in the countryside events, the Nairobi International Marathon which has been sponsored by the Standard Chartered Bank for a long time would be a good option. One of Africa’s busiest cities takes a break on this Sunday for one of the most popular events on athletics calendar. Apart from the 42km main race, there is the 21km half marathon, a 10km race and a 5km race. There is also a wheelchair half marathon and a family run in which amateur and corporate competitors can take part. The marathon now attracts more than 22,000 participants. For registration details, visit the event website HERE.
Mwea Classic Half Marathon
Date: Saturday, September 7
Place: Mwea, Kirinyaga county
The Mwea Half Marathon is still growing in its popularity in the rice growing fields of Mwea, in Kirinyaga county just about 150km from Nairobi. This may the perfect race for you if you are just getting into marathons as the course is flat and scenic, at the foot of the majestic Mount Kenya. Apart from the 21km race, there are 10km and 5km races as well as family and corporate races. For information on how you can participate, visit the website HERE.
Kisumu City Marathon 2019
Date: Saturday, September 7
Place: Nairobi City
Kisumu City Marathon is among events in the Safaricom Athletics Series. Happening in Kenya’s third largest city on the shores of Lake Victoria, this is one marathon you do not want to miss. It is the biggest sporting event in the lakeside city taking place annually. The temperatures here are also high so you would want to adapt before taking part. For more information on how to take part, keep it here for updates. The date for this year’s marathon is yet to be confirmed. The event normally happens in early December. Keep it here for more information.
This list is not exhaustive of all marathons and half marathons that happen in Kenya. You can read about road races and other running competitions you can take part in on this platform.