The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon

The South African Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon, a unique race filled with adventure and determination, will once again be held in the beautiful and contrasting landscape of the Northern Cape’s “Green Kalahari”.

The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon is a self-sufficiency run held over six legs in seven days with set distances for each day, ranging from 28km to 75km. Participants must carry all their supplies, clothes and compulsory safety/survival equipment for the duration of the event. Overnight shelter in camps, and water, which is strictly controlled and distributed during the race, is supplied. The event goes way beyond merely covering 250 km in extreme conditions; it is a challenge to get past what normal people would regard as crazy, and achieve one’s personal goals. In 2015 the race will be limited to 100 participants.

Each participant is required to produce a medical certificate prior to the event. A full medical team monitors the runners daily, and attends to all their medical needs during the event. Every entrant and their pack is inspected prior to the start to ensure that they are carrying all their compulsory equipment and that their daily food’s calorie count is sufficient to sustain them, as any outside assistance will result in them being withdrawn from the race. The management of controlling eating to energy used plays a major role in the success of crossing the finish line.

The route details are only given to the participants on the day of registration, so there is no unfair advantage in planning. The route is marked throughout the course, and offers a great contrast for everyone, with landscapes from fertile vineyards to the rocky outcrops, the vast outstretches of the Kalahari Desert, with temperatures varying from mid 40 degrees Celsius during the day to single figures in the evenings.

Interest in the event is growing throughout the world as the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon makes a name for itself on the International Calendar of Extreme Events as a difficult, well-organized experience of a lifetime.

My Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon 2015

Day 1 : Distance 25 km

Fantastic first day but it is lot hotter than I thought it would be.  The terrain is very different to the Sahara - less 'soft' and much more rumbley underfoot. Its beautiful running through the park and we even see giraffe. There is so much pink quartz here you want to pick it all up but that would make my pack too heavy but at times it does feel like I am running through Aladdins Cave.

Looking at the route on paper it looks like it will be an okay day - two check points and then the finish... but its tough the heat just saps all your energy.

By the time a reach camp in a valley I am really dehydrated and my chums Nathan and Harry help me with my kit and to take on fluids and salts. After 10 or so minutes I feel better but can't put contact lens solution in my eyes it it will probably boil my eye boils.

Stupidly i put hot water in my food so it has taken 3 hours to eat and its still not cool .... all my Haribo's have melted.... they didn't melt in the Sahara.

Michelle, Edward, Me and Nathan 'The 2015 Kalahari Champion'

Off we go....I'm on the right

Day 2 : Distance 34 km

Didn't sleep well last night as it was so hot - we had a thunder storm and a 'drop' of rain. Feeling tired by its an early start and I start running with Edward at 6am.  I'm taking advantage of the cooler temperature and want to get an much distance under my belt before the sun comes up good and proper.


Leaving Camp Day 2

The beautiful Orange River

Team Joey & Edward

Today feels brilliant until I leave checkpoint 3 - feeling light headed and with a sensation of pins and needs all over my body i am forced to stop. The medic work on keeping me in the race but I am too far gone and can't stand let alone walk.  I'm absolutely gutted......but on the way back to my hotel a new plan is born with the help of a couple of giraffe and zebra on route...

CP 4 Day 2 The End of my Kalahari dream.....or so I thought!

Taxi......! No Uber in the Kalahari!!!

Day 3 : Distance 40km

The 'Alternative Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon' begins....

Nadia has organised for me to run around the National Park and I run round our hotel compound 24 times to make up today's distance.

Augrabie Falls National Park Dasi Trail

Its been lonely today I miss my camps mates but I am happy to be running and lots of people are wondering who this strange person is running around looking like a 'Fraggle'.

Nonetheless, they stop ask me what I'm doing and wave and say 'Hi' and the gang in the restaurant make sure I have plenty of water so alls good.

I'm sure it is getting hotter.....I folded my arms over my t-shirt this afternoon and the print came off on to my arm...KALAHARI backwards....looks like a really bad tattoo hoping it comes off in the shower later!

Laps of the hotel begin.....its a lovely hotel BUT I never want to run 24 laps around it again.

Now I keep mentioning the heat so how hot was it getting in SA....?

Earth's hottest temperature ever recorded in the month of October occurred on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 in South Africa, when Vredendal hit a remarkable 48.4°C (119.1°F). According to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, this is also the highest temperature ever observed at Vredendal and the third highest temperature in South African history. The new global October heat record was made possible by a "Berg wind"--a hot dry wind blowing down the Great Escarpment from the high central plateau to the coast. As the air descended it warmed via adiabatic compression, causing the record heat. These sorts of foehn winds are commonly responsible for all-time record temperatures; mainland Antarctica's all-time record high of 17.5°C (63.5°F), set on March 24, 2015, was due, in part, to a foehn wind (see wunderground weather historian Christopher C. Burt's blog post on this.)

According to Herrera, the previous world October heat record of 47.3°C was set at Campo Gallo, Argentina on 16 October 1936, and South Africa's highest reliable temperature for any month is 48.8°C (119.8°F), recorded at Vioosdrif in January 1993. 

Day 4: Distance 81km The Long Day - 11km done

Tough day 81 km to complete decision made to split this 50/50 with the rest day.

The lovely manager Sonel Visser from the Augrabies Falls Lodge has organsied for me to run in the vineyard behind our accomodation today. Its a late start for me as I ran into the night the previous day and haven't slept much as I am missing my friends, worried about Edward Chapman and tyrying to work out how the hell I am going to run 81km in 2 days without going completely bonkers!

Start running at 0930...had to stop 11km in as its so hot ... race is stopped by Doc Charl as the temperature is rising fast.......night race is organised total distance 33km Catherine, Graham and I assist Neil aka Kalahari's Finest Cuisine make 60 packed dinners for the amazing Kalahari Crew and medics.

KFC Kalahari Style!

BBQ on a very hot day.....

Assistant to Chef Graham

Good night Kalahari!

Day 5 : Official rest day but due to extreme temperature race distance was chopped for long day - 33km done

So 33km in the bag with my new running chum Hugh Glyn-Jones as well as Melvin and Braven.... but there was a little glitch during night and runners ended up running Hugh Glyn-Jones and I need to run alot more tomorrow!!!!!

grrrr we hate reflective tape!!!!

Running buddies!

Day 6: Distance 47km amended distance who knows anymore.....???

KAEM - Day 6 Its my birthday!!!!!
Hugh Glyn-Jones and the team are helping make up an additional 14k plus 9k that I missed on day 2....the run was split over a morning and tough afternoon following a lovely birthday bbq...

Happy birthday to me in the Kalahari!

Hugh on the rocks

Making friends but no one wants to come with us

Running around the desert with Hugh in the morning was beautiful and we wondered upon Cindy and her fabulous dogs from the farm who accompanied us to CP 1 on day 1 - she looked fab! By accident we stumbled upon camp.... we wanted to say hi to Richard ShannonEdward Chapman,Jennifer BradleyAnnie Dougall and the rest of the 'team but we were afraid of 'Rambo' catching us and stringing us up whilst yelling at his not so 'happy campers' so we left after waving at Driekie Black and friends.

Camp in the background.....and hiding from RAMBO!

Hugh Glyn-Jones introduced me to a very odd bean type plant...can't remember the name but it tasted it bit like prawn crackers!

Marvellous birthday bbq lunch and we found cake in the supermarket next door too to share with the crew in the evening.... it was a big team so i asked for a second cake.....was concerned when the teller said he didn't realise he even had the one I long had it been in the shop????? Its the Kalahari anything can happen.....after lunch we had a little snooze and then lovely Catherine woke us up at 17:30 and we were off again....ahh that was tough on a full stomach but we did it and had a lovely evening with the crew over cake that night...

My birthday lunch with my new running team...and Patrick the coach!

We were really excited as tomorrow we are allowed tro run with the team again for the last 11km!


Day 7: Distance 25km - amended distance 11km

KAEM - Day 7 The Last Day

The Three Muskeeters set off on foot at 6am in the morning for a 7.00 - 7.30am start I had 5K to still complete from the day before and we had that in the bag by the time we arrived at the start line to surprise out friends!

It was great to see them again!

We didn't have time for many hello's and hugs before Rambo ordered us to start!

We ran the last 11k to the finish line practically ending in the pool!

It was an amazing feeling to cross the finish line with my friends and thank you to Nadia Arndt and Estienne for letting us join the race on the last day.

Crossing the Finish Line with Edward Chapman such an amazing man.

It has been an epic adventure - not quite the race I imagined as I didn't expect day 2 to end the way it did but I have made so many amazing friends and I can see how this race has become the KAEM family. Sitting at my desk at work today I miss you all and I can't wait to come back and do it again .... win my own medal (Edward Chapman) so much for giving me your medal..... but I seriously have Leopard envy...what an amazing finishers prize!

Thank you Nadia Arndt, Estienne, medics, marshalls, physios, Stacy Manager of the park for letting me run around like a loon, Sonel Visser,Alwyn J MaassAdele Giliomee MaassDanel Geldenhuys, Graham Black,Kevin Harvey, Neil (KFC), Susan BoldLaura BannatyneGary Cambridgefor the goodies especially the cheese which will definately be part of my race pack in future, Jonathan Rowland - Sue is amazing, Josef Goltschman for making me do a rain dance day 1....yes team I made that thunder and the 6 drops of rain that feel that night, Phil Waudby, Stefan Betzelt for the motivation, Rheina and Jakkie for looking at me at CP 4 on day 2, Gill Bell BurnettGenevieve Stroombergen and everyone else!

Happy running and I hope to see you all again!

Joey the little Trooper over and out!