The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) is an adventurous foot race held annually in October in the breathtaking landscape of South Africa’s “Green Kalahari”. Founded by Estienne Arndt, Nadia Arndt and Simon Kelly.
This extreme sports event is a 7-day self-sufficient race, covering an approximate total distance of 250km. Known as the ‘Big Daddy’ in the South African running fraternity, KAEM is one of the oldest and most respected extreme marathons on the International Trail Running calendar.
KAEM takes place in the Kalahari Desert in the proximity of the Augrabies Falls on the Orange River. Each year the route differs. The route traverses the Augrabies Falls National Park, Dabaras as well as private farmlands. This unique and contrasting environment with average day temperatures reaching in excess of 40°C and dropping to below 5°C at night presents a daunting challenge to the extreme athlete and determined adventurer alike.
The 250km is divided into 6 stages, ranging from 25km to 48km each day with a long day covering approximately 75km. Daily distances are published approximately 10 weeks before the event and route details are only given to participants on the day of registration. In this way, there is no unfair advantage in planning. The route is clearly marked throughout the course with checkpoints at every 8 to 10kms, leaving little chance for participants to get lost. Crew members also monitor the whereabouts and condition of each athlete on the course. Should anyone get lost or in trouble, help will be there.
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. In addition, professional medical backup, as well as sports physios, are available and form part of the crew.
Participants are required to produce a medical certificate prior to the event. The KAEM medical team monitors the runners daily and attends to their medical needs during the event. Participants and their backpacks are inspected prior to the start to ensure that all compulsory equipment is carried with them and that their food calorie count is sufficient. Needless to say, food intake and energy management play a critical role in ensuring success in crossing the finish line.
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