The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) is a multi-stage extreme marathon held annually in October in the Kalahari desert in South Africa.
KAEM was founded by Estienne Arndt, Nadia Arndt and Simon Kelly in the year 2000. In December 2016, Estienne and Nadia handed over their share and responsibilities to Hano Otto and Sonja Terblanche-Otto, who together with Simon Kelly are now organisers of the event.
The Multi-stage Marathon
- KAEM is a self-sufficient multi-stage extreme foot race covering a distance of approximately 250km, held in 6 stages over 7 days.
- Each participant must carry all his/her supplies for the duration of the race. Supplies can be checked by a race official at any stage during the race.
- The route will be clearly marked with highly visible markings, marking tape and boards to direction on-route. Each participant will be given a handbook with maps. Participants must navigate their way by using the handbook and maps and following the markers. The markers are positioned at approximately 300 to 400 meters. If a kilometer is run without the sight of a marker, the participant should turn back as he/she is off the course.
- The route of KAEM is mainly on jeep tracks and dust roads. The overall distance is measured on these tracks which often wind their way between the hills. It is NOT PERMITTED to leave the track and deliberately take a short cut across open ground to reduce the distance and gain advantage. Any participant seen deliberately taking a short cut off the tracks to shorten the distance of the marked route will be considered a NON FINISHER of the event. It is permitted to run parallel to the track where the ground may be harder.
- Except for first day there will be staggered starts every day. These start times are based directly on the overall times of each participant. These start times are posted each evening after the last participant has finished, and CANNOT be altered. If participants miss allocated starting times, participants’ overall time WILL be calculated based on their allocated starting time.
- There are checkpoints at approximately every 8 to 10 km intervals.
- It is the responsibility of the participant to ensure that the check point time keeper has listed him/her as having passed through the check point.
- One day/night stage is included. This stage is approximately 80 km and participants are required to run with headlamps. On this day the slower participants leave at 06:00, the starts are staggered throughout the morning with the fastest participants leaving at 13:00.
- Once darkness has set on the night stage it is essential to keep your headlamps ON at all times as the route markers are reflective.
- Cover for overnight stops are provided at the finish camps. Gazebos are numbered and 4 participants are allocated a gazebo and a gazebo number. Participants must only sleep in their allocated Gazebo. These allocations CANNOT be changed.
- The route each day is over a set distance, with a timed start and finish.
- Participants must plan what equipment and supplies they will carry with them.
- All equipment that participants start with must be carried for the duration of the race and only food / food packaging / socks / underwear may be discarded at the check points or overnight camps.
- Equipment or discarded food may not be used by another participant.
- Participants may not carry other participants’ food or equipment during the race.
- Participants will be required to run with their race numbers, un-obscured, on their front.
- All other areas can be used for personal advertising on condition that it is not in conflict with any of KAEM sponsors.
- No participant is permitted to leave the overnight camp areas.
- The organisers reserves the right to modify any part of the race as a result of circumstances beyond its control.
- No participant may interfere with another participant.
- Abuse directed at ANY other participant or ANY crew member will not be tolerated and will result in immediate disqualification.
- Should a participant see anything during the event that they are unhappy about, this should be discussed with the Race Directors or the Camp Master immediately. Do not leave the matter until the finish of the event.
- The Race Director’s decision regarding any dispute or disqualification is final.
- Except for the long day participants must reach the finish before sunset at 19:00 as the route is not set for the dark; this does not apply for the night stage.
- Participants can be withdrawn from the race if instructed by the Race Director, or on advice of the medical team if it is obvious that they are not coping with the extreme conditions that this event demands.
- NO SMOKING IS ALLOWED DURING THE EVENT
- For safety to both the participant and other participants, earphones will not be allowed whilst on the route. They are permitted at the overnight camps only. (The reason for this rule is that participants wearing earphones will not be able to hear someone calling for assistance, shouting a warning or being aware of surroundings.)
- KAEM is open to persons 21 years and older.
- Juniors 18 to 21 years must have written permission from a parent or guardian.
- Participants’ medical examination must be done after the 1st of August and must be emailed to the organisers by the 15th of September.
Prizes and Trophies
- Each finisher receives a trophy which is a unique hand-blown glass leopard made by Ngwenya Glass.
- Special winners trophies are awarded for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd man and lady finishers.
Ecologically Sensitive Location
- The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon will be run over an ecologically sensitive area.
- Anyone littering or deliberately damaging any flora or fauna will be disqualified.
- Registration will take place at 10:30 on the Friday before the start of the first stage on Saturday.
- Anyone not present for registration will be regarded as a non-starter.
- Participants will be required to produce their relevant medical certification, compulsory equipment, and self-sufficient provisions for the duration of the race.
- Anyone without the relevant documentation and compulsory items will be regarded as a non-starter.
- ALL medication is to be shown and declared to the medical doctor.
- Participants must carry enough food to sustain themselves during the event.
- A minimum of 2000 calories per day is recommended.
- It is at the discretion of the event doctor at inspection to ascertain if sufficient food is carried.
- During the event, should a participant dehydrate or if the medical team feels that the participant is undernourished and is endangering himself/herself, the participant will be re-hydrated orally or intravenously. Should such a participant require two (2) intravenous drips or regular oral re-hydration, he/she will be withdrawn from the race.
- Check points during the event are approximately 8 to 10 km apart. Each participant receives 1.5 litres of water at each check point.
- Each participant receives 4.5 litres at the finish camp each day. This 4.5 litres is also for filling water bottles the next morning from the start to Check Point 1.
- Up to 1 litre of hot, boiled water for cooking is allocated per participant who needs to exchange the same amount of their bottled water for hot water.
- An additional 4.5 litres is supplied for the rest day.
- This is the only water that will be supplied to participants.
- Additional water supplies may be issued if conditions demand it. This water will be distributed from drums.
Geographical Conditions and Temperatures
- The terrain varies from flat grassy plains, fertile valleys, rocky mountainous outcrops and sandy desert.
- Areas covered will include a wildlife sanctuary, private farmlands and cultivated vineyards.
- Day temperatures in the area during October average between 33 to 45 degrees Celsius (in the shade) however it can also surpass the 45 degree Celsius mark. At night temperatures can drop to 5 degrees Celsius.
Assistance during the race
- No assistance may be accepted from any person or facility not connected to the event or crew.
- No participant may carry equipment or supplies for another participant.
- Only water and medical assistance may be accepted from crew at check points and the finish.
- The organisers reserve the right to make allowances for any participants with a disability.
- A full medical team will be in attendance throughout the duration of the event.
- Any self-medication taken during the event MUST be declared and approved by the race doctor at registration.
- Any medication taken during the event that has not been approved by the doctor will result in disqualification.
- The medical team is there for the participants’ well-being and safety. Blisters as a result of normal wear and tear must be dressed and treated by participants themselves.
- Participants must provide for and carry their own blister treatment kit (see notes on foot care.)
- The medical team will attend to feet at their discretion, especially in severe cases and should an infection set in.
- Strapping to prevent chafing must be carried and done by participants themselves.
- If the medical team is required to assist with strapping as a result of infection or raw skin, this strapping will be charged for. This does not include strapping for injuries such as sprains, pulled muscles, etc.
If the race doctor feels medical assistance is being used to give the participant an advantage, the organisers can decide on whether to withdraw the participant or deny them a podium finish.
Event Abandonment and Retirement
- Should a participant retire or be withdrawn from the event, accommodation will be reserved on his/her behalf and all costs incurred (i.e. accommodation, meals, etc.) must be paid directly to the provider by the participant.
- It is essential that if any participant retires from the race, that he/she notifies an official.
- Should a participant be withdrawn from the race and decide to stay at Augrabies for the remainder of the event, the participant WILL NOT automatically be included in the crew team and will most likely not be able to join crew members at check points in the field. This will only be allowed by the Race Director if circumstances allow.
Compulsory Equipment - survival gear to be supplied by participant and carried at all times
- Backpack (30 litre is suggested)
- Sleeping bag
- Overnight & warm clothing
- Head cover (Cap)
- Insect net to cover face or a Buff
- Eye Protection / Sunglasses
- Torch and spare batteries
- Water containers or bladder to carry minimum total quantity of 1.5 litres
- Antiseptic cream
- Blister treatment kit
- Strapping or anti-chafe cream for chafing
- Sun block lotion
- Toilet paper or tissues
- Cooking / eating container and spoon
- Space blanket
- 10 x Safety pins
Suggested Equipment (not compulsory) – to be supplied by participant if desired
- Sleeping mat
- Additional 300ml Water bottle
- Spare cotton shorts and t-shirt
- Socks – 7 pairs
- Small Towel
- Face cloth
- Big Plastic Bag (in case of rain)
- Foot plasters
- Head ache tablets
- Insect Repellent
- Various container bags – e.g. ziplock bags
- Wind Breaker
- Sewing kit
KAEM Road Book
- The road book includes complete event details, with stage distances and route maps.
- This will only be provided to participants on the Friday at registration.
- The road book must be kept on the participant’s person at all times during the race stage of the event.
The daily distances will be communicated to participants prior to the event, about a month before the time to allow for planning purposes.
Included in your entry fee
Your KAEM entry fee, includes the following :
- SANParks entry
- SANParks permissions
- First Ascent jacket (worth R1200)
- Goodie bag with various sponsored items, (incl KAEM Buff and 1.5l water for first leg of the first event day).
- 7 Days of competing on foot through pristine Nature
- Medical backup by Mediclinic
- Marked route
- Camp set up each night
- Water about every 10km at checkpoints
- Water at the camps each night
- Professional photographer
- Professional videographer and a SuperSport TV program as well as youtube videos
- Daily social media updates with photos and videos
- Permission of private farm owners
- 2 Night sharing accommodation before and after the event
- Meals before and after the start
- Prize giving function with wine
- International athletes: Flight from Jhb to Upington and bus transport
- International athletes that choose Package 2: Welcoming and Transport from OR Tambo to Overnight Accommodation
- Accommodation before and after the event except as above
- International flights to Johannesburg or Cape Town
- Transfer from Cape Town to Augrabies
- Transfer from Upington to Augrabies, except for people that choose the International people with package 1 and 2 and SA Package Option 2
- Extra race garments: KAEM Buff (R300), KAEM Jacket (R1200) (also included in your Race Goodie bag, but if you want to order extra, please order via Entry form)
- Dirt Shirt (R400), not included in Race Entry
- Personal items, refreshments and alcoholic drinks that can be purchased from the Augrabies Falls National Park shop and/or Augrabies Falls Lodge Bar & Restaurant.
- All food and supplements required during the race
WE HAVE BEEN SHORTLISTED FOR ‘BEST INTERNATIONAL EVENT’ IN THE UK RUNNING AWARDS.
We’re up against some huge races – Berlin, Boston, Boston, Amsterdam, Marathon des Sables, New York and more! This is David vs Goliath – which means that every vote counts.
If we win, it means your vote has helped the event receive more exposure and help even more people in South Africa!
We are shortlisted under ‘Running events’, then ‘International Event’. Thanks in advance!