Econet Victoria Falls Marathon 2018 Report

As part of our three-week South Africa “revival” holiday (we lived there for four years 30 years ago), a marathon was also planned – otherwise it would be a holiday for a marathoni? – in Zimbabwe. The Victoria Falls Marathon also closes with another puzzle piece for me. According to the English spelling I have now run except the “Y” (only Yemen, but currently not possible) with the “Z” for Zimbabwe in at least one country from AZ a marathon. For the same target with the German spelling missing only the “C” – Beijing is scheduled for 2019.

We flew on Thursday for about 280 € from Johannesburg with SAA in about 1h 20min to Victoria Falls. We paid the single entry visa for US $ 30 in cash at the airport. Tip: If you plan on going to Botswana (Chobe National Park), you should buy the Multi Entry Visa for US $ 45.
Since the recently expanded airfield is 20km outside of Vic Falls, the $ 30 taxi is relatively expensive. If you are traveling alone, the bus is better for $ 14. We were lucky and were taken on the bunk of a Bakkies.
By the way, in Vic Falls everything is being paid in US dollars because of the weakness of the Zimbabwean dollar! Tip: Since the ATMs do not work reliably due to lack of foreign exchange, it is best to take the dollars in cash! Payment by credit card is possible almost everywhere (just not for the visa and souvenirs at the many street vendors!).

On Friday we picked up the starting documents in the event center in the garden of the hotel in the centrally located Kingdom Hotel. Everything went smoothly, with the start number incl. Integrated chip and naming there was a sleeveless functional shirt. There were no other goodies or a runner’s fair.
Until the start of the marathon on Sunday morning we and our Finnish runners, later Anton Reiter from “Marathon4you” had enough time to explore the small town.
As a “social program” we booked an interesting game drive in the nearby Zambezi National Park, a sundowner cruise on the Zambezi River and of course the visit to the Victoria Falls National Park ($ 30 admission) with the famous waterfalls that led to a lot of water at this time of the year. Tip: compare prices and trade – 20% discount are in it!

Saturday morning, I ran with Tenho, my Finnish running friend from the Country Marathon Club, a very casual training run at the “Big Tree”, a huge baobab tree. Suddenly rustle, about 15m to the right of us ate a huge elephant bull! Then left, another bull about 20m away from us! Softly we took off. On Sunday, Anton told us that he was chased by an elephant bull on a similar night on Saturday night! Anton fell, rubbed his hands open and scratched his camera – Austrian warm-up training? And all this on the marathon course!

Sunday, marathon day. We visited Anton, who stayed in the Kingdom Hotel for $ 200 a night and drank a cup of coffee with him. The hotel is right at the start and offers from 5 clock a great buffet breakfast. We stayed in a basic hotel for $ 45 a night and were very pleased.
The marathon started at 6:45 am, just before dawn. The 500 starters of the booked-out marathon (2,500 half-marathoners started at 7.15 am and another approx. 1000 participants at the 7.5 km funrun at 8.15) were in a great mood, a really exuberant mood thanks to the many local runners! Also a few seasons as well as Rollis were at the start. On time, we ran down the slightly downhill main road between Post and Kingdom Hotel towards Victoria Falls.
After a kilometer we passed the entrance to the Victoria Falls National Park. It was wet and very cool. The spray of the falls makes its own climate. After passing the Zimbabwean border we crossed the famous Victoria Falls Bridge to Zambia. This was a real highlight! One saw a part of the cases or actually one guessed only in the spray. And then the sun crept out, a small diffuse orange ball glowed in the spray! Many runners paused and photographed.

After the bridge on Zambian state territory, we went slightly uphill to the turning point at km 2. Back over the bridge again and then behind the park we turn right onto the Zambezi Drive.
The first feeding place was passed, there were “Watersakkies” which reminded me of my many Ultras in South Africa. These Watersakkies are small welded plastic bags which are filled with about 30ml of water. These can be worn with you and bite your teeth if necessary.
First, we ran for about 2km parallel to the river, which flows above the falls quite calm in its wide riverbed and was seen from the course again and again through the dense bank vegetation. It was getting warmer and we quickly dried from the spray of falls – or was it our wind?
We approached the Big Tree and I heard several rifle shots. Later I was confirmed that the Rangers posted at the endangered spots had to drive out 12 free running elephants! Pure nature!
We continued on a main road past the Zambezi Cruise Terminal and the Elephant Hill Hotel to the entrance of the Zambezi National Park. Here were about 2km on a good to running sandy road to the turning point at the picnic spot on the Zambezi to run.

Back it went partly on the same route. I found it good to see where the runners were on the way. Since I myself was not in such a good mood, the first half marathoners caught up with me at about, km 10! Thus was provided for Kurzweil during the run. After passing the climb back to Elephant Hill Hotel, we went up another right to Victoria Falls Safari Lodge on the right. Then flat in a residential area with a turning point. Here was good mood, the residents had gathered and spread some “Comrades Feeling”.
Shortly after km 21 we reached the main road and it went downhill left again to the Zambezi Drive. Here the protagonists of Funrun came to meet us. On the Zambezi Drive, we then left again directly on the left – and so we did not run over the Vic Falls Bridge – in the second round.

It was now a bit lonely for us Marathonis in the rear runner field. But the food about every 2.5 km was always enough equipped with Watersakkies, partly oranges, bananas and bars. There were also various DJs and live groups, which provided entertainment. Every kilometer of the route was clearly marked. Unfortunately there were quite a lot of cars and buses on the second round. At risk I had felt on the side roads, because the drivers were not very considerate.
After we had passed the turning point of the first round in the residential area, it went on a modified route back to the main road. The last 2 miles to the finish at a school outside of Vic Falls initially went uphill again. Here there was dense traffic with many trucks, which rather little consideration for us active and did not dodge. Therefore, great care was needed here and it was well advised to walk on the edge strip or even further to the right in the unfastened!
Having arrived at the huge school complex, a miserable long loop had to be put back to the finish on the dry grass. Well, someday I arrived after the winner Nkosinazi Sibanda (2.21.08) and the winner Olivia Chitate (2.58.35). All other results are available here ,

In the finish there was next to a medal unfortunately only water, a coke I could still get hold of in the VIP area. There was also somewhere between the many private tents in the target area (typically in South Africa), a massage, which I did not use. In the evening we made our sundowner cruise as a reward and were able to observe hippos, crocodiles, monitor lizards and various birds.

Speaking of birds – our unlucky Anton told us shortly before our departure on Monday that he had in his hotel room in his hotel room on Sunday evening visit of baboons (a monkey species) that had devastated and dirty his entire room.

My summary
For an entry fee of $ 40 (Local 10 $), a well-organized marathon with massage, medal and T-shirt was offered. What is really extraordinary about this marathon is the crossing of the famous Vic Falls bridge in the mist of the waterfalls at sunrise, the crossing to Zambia as well as the elephants, monkeys, impalas and other wild animals that could be seen along the way.
The route catering all about 2.5km was good; in the finish, however, very poor for the last runners only with water! Every kilometer was marked and a lot of dried elephant dung on the street provided further local flavor.

The route was initially very well closed to traffic with a few slight gradients and mostly asphalted, plus about 8km on good to running, solid sandy roads. A personal best is difficult to achieve on this course, but the target time of 5.45 hours is appropriate. But there were also the finishers with just over 7 hours. Due to the early start time, the first round was about 16 ° C to run, the second round, however, was quite warm, so I guess around 23 ° C from about 10 clock!

The website is okay, a list of results with various split times was published at short notice. A certificate could also be printed online.
All further information on the homepage of the organizer , The date for the next Vic Falls Marathon is already known as July 7, 2019.

As part of a South African holiday, the Vic Falls Marathon is highly recommended. Traveling from Europe directly there is relatively expensive and Victoria Falls is a tourist destination that has little or no connection with the rest of Zimbabwe or Africa. If you would like to get to know Africa, you should plan a few more days and plan a tour to Botswana, for example. Information on further organized travel can be found on the homepage of Wild Frontiers , co-initiators of the Vic Falls Marathon. Malaria prophylaxis is not necessary for South Africa and Vic Falls this season.

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