Welcome, log in / register

Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon: Who's you daddy?

Written by Ants Tuesday, 04 November 2014 Posted in Articles

250km in the Green Kalahari

Who’s your daddy this week? I’ll tell you: The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon! Known as South Africa’s Big Daddy, this 7-day adventure is not for the faint of heart. This past weekend, 70 endurance athletes from all over the world converged at Augrabies in the Northern Cape to compete in this experience of a lifetime. They will be running (self-sufficiently) for a total of 250km through some of the toughest terrains, ranging from green vineyards to rocky outcrops and of course the Kalahari desert, ending on Friday 7 November. What? “What’s so tough about that?” you ask? Well…firstly: it’s rude to interrupt the storyteller…so sit down, pizzaface! Secondly: It’s not just the distance that makes this race tough: Runners will have to contend with:

  • Temperatures ranging from over 40degrees to single digits at night
  • Freeze dried food
  • A super heavy backpack
  • Snakes and some truly terrifying creepy crawlies
  • Blisters, blisters, blisters!

It’s certainly not all bad, though. Not by a long shot. This race takes place in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Yours truly has been lucky enough to spend an entire year next to the Orange River near Augrabies in 2013. Thusly so, I can raise my chin and puff my chest and pretend that I know everything there is to know about the Green Kalahari, so listen up, peasant! The first thing that hits you square in the feels about this place is the vast emptiness and solitude that the Green Kalahari offers. It is a place you can’t help but fall in love with. The terrain is harsh but strangely comforting. It never quite leaves your blood. Speaking of blood and hearty stuff: should you find yourself on your way to the 2015 KAEM after being inspired by this lovely article, I would highly recommend stopping in at the Keimoes Slaghuis. For one thing only…FLIP SE RIB! I have never before had such a succulent, fatty and pure rack of ribs. You will run it off, don’t you worry. But I digress. Back to the race!

The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon is split over 7 days, with daily distances as follows:

  • Day 1: 25km, 448m elevation gain, 446m elevation loss
  • Day 2: 35km, 275m elevation gain, 188m elevation loss
  • Day 3: 40km, 508m elevation gain, 773m elevation loss
  • Day 4-5: 70km, 631m elevation gain, 620m elevation loss
  • Day 6: 45km, 462m elevation gain, 293m elevation loss
  • Day 7: 21km, 145m elevation gain, 135m elevation loss

Between running legs, participants get the opportunity to relax and cool down at the well-organised overnight camps set up by the camp crew. They consist of low standing gazebos with shade cloth sides and ground cover. Each gazebo sleeps six. Got a snorer with you? Bad luck, happy camper! Every evening at 18:00, a fire is lit and participants can cook the food they brought with them. Depending on how heavy you want to make your pack, your food choices range from freeze-dried meals to 2-minute noodles to energy bars. It really is up to you. For a detailed and very insightful look into what nutrition is preferable, please read “Suggested food list” by Geoff Hilton Barber – a blind adventurer who has completed the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon five times. Quite an amazing man!

Other than food, the following kit is compulsory for all participants:

  • Backpack (30 litre is suggested) 
  • Sleeping bag
  • Overnight & warm clothing
  • Head cover (Cap)
  • Insect net to cover face or a Buff
  • Eye Protection / Sunglasses
  • Mirror
  • Whistle
  • Torch and spare batteries
  • Knife 
  • 2 x 750ml water containers or bladder, minimum size 1.5 litres
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Blister treatment kit
  • Strapping or anti-chafe cream for chafing
  • Sun block lotion
  • Toilet paper or tissues
  • Cooking Pot and spoon

Suggested Equipment:

  • Sleeping mat
  • Additional 300ml Water bottle
  • Spare cotton shorts and t-shirt
  • Socks - 7 pairs 
  • Small Towel
  • Soap
  • Sandals
  • Face cloth
  • Pot and spoon
  • Underwear
  • Big Plastic Bag (in case of rain)
  • Gaiters
  • Foot plasters
  • Head ache tablets
  • Insect Repellent
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Various container bags - e.g. ziplock
  • Wind Breaker
  • Sewing kit

Are you starting to get keen yet? Are your feet starting to itch to be there? Are you already booking your plane ticket to Upington for 2015? Good. You want to win it, you say? Well here’s what you will have to beat…I present to you the winners of the 2013 KAEM:


  1. Daniel Rowland 22:02:57
  2. Mahmut Yavuz 22:26:54
  3. Tiaan Erwee 23:19:32


  1. Maretha Combrinck 28:51:53
  2. Lucja Leonard 33:39:24
  3. Bakiye Duran 34:36:23

At the time of writing, the 2014 KAEM was on day 4, with Mahmut Yavuz and Linda Doke holding the lead positions in male and female categories. We at Outpost Running wish each and every participant a great race and a safe return. Who knows, maybe I’ll see you there next year!

See more at www.kaem.co.za

Training to run the KAEM - by Dirk Cloete

Footcare for adventure racing - by Lisa de Speville

See you out there!


About the Author


Ants, the slow one, runs for fun. An avid trail and duathlon enthusiast and on feisty occasions, the odd triathlon catches the eye.  She will be your guide for the day...

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.