“Stadiums are for spectators. We runners have nature and that is much better.”
— Juha Väätäinen, Finnish Runner and Olympian
“Life (and running) is not all about time but about our experiences along the way.”
–Jen Rhines, American Runner and Olympian
“When you run in places you visit, you encounter things you’d never see otherwise.”
–Tom Brokaw, American Journalist
Simon Mtuy, the preeminent ultradistance trail runner in Tanzania, has a mission to promote the sport of trail running in his country. Hundreds of kilometers of footpaths criss-cross the foothills of majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, offering spectacular scenery at every turn and unrivaled trail running opportunities. He wants to see more Tanzanians enjoy this fun fitness activity that is literally outside their doorstep, and also to bring more visitors to his country to experience the beautiful running in this unique ecological and cultural setting.
One product of this mission is the Kilimanjaro Stage Run, an annual multi-day 260-kilometer trail run that completely circumnavigates the mountain at 1400 – 2200 meters elevation. Simon has led small groups of Tanzanian and international runners on this memorable shared endeavor in 2012 and 2013, and has scheduled two Stage Runs in 2014, which are available to join for those with the endurance and spirit of adventure. Each year more Tanzanian runners join, including Kilimanjaro mountain guides, and in 2013, the first Tanzanian woman to complete the circuit, Banwelia Katesigwa. The Stage Run proved excellent training for Banwelia as she was the first Tanzanian and 9th overall woman in the recently completed 2014 Kilimanjaro Marathon. Another Stage Runner, Sigfried Ngali, was the first Tanzanian male and 7th overall in the Marathon.
Through his Tanzania adventure travel company, Summit Expeditions & Nomadic Experience (SENE), Simon also invites runners of all ages and abilities to join him for shorter runs of a couple hours to a full day so he can share with them the trails of Kilimanjaro that he knows and loves.
Earth Day 2013 tree planting
As runners from nearby and far away experience the magic of Kilimanjaro, Simon hopes they also will take an interest in preserving its natural beauty. He has undertaken a tree-planting initiative as part of every Stage Run. To further reinforce his message of giving back, Simon established an Earth Day fun run and indigenous tree planting in Mweka Village on Kilimanjaro. To help promote running he requested and received from his shoe sponsor, Salomon, a shipment of trail running shoes to distribute to runners in Tanzania in conjunction with the Earth Day events. Never one to stand still, Simon has future plans for annual ultradistance races from 50 kilometers to 100 miles on the route he has blazed with the Kilimanjaro Stage Run.
See you on the trails of Kilimanjaro!
Photos courtesy of Nathalie Pigache and Andrew King, D4 Productions.