What an amazing experience! We were so fortunate to be able to have a fantastic African adventure in the recent 2017 Big Five Marathon, where I ran the marathon and my wife attended as a spectator.
We are so glad that we got to stay at Ravineside Lodge which was only a five to ten minute drive from the start/finish line. Just driving from the front gate to the Lodge we saw elephants, zebras and impala! Our en suite room overlooked a magnificent ravine where you could look down on a herd of giraffes grazing! With three scrumptious meals a day, incredibly friendly staff and magnificent wildlife this was a mind-blowing experience! I even bought a tie a the Lodge’s curio shop for a very reasonable 200 rand … I latter found the same tie for sale at the airport for 500 rand!
The marathon itself was very picturesque, but certainly challenging running entirely on sandy and rocky tracks, with a significant hill to descend and then climb in the middle. After it took around 2 hours to drive the 42km course, I was concerned that I wouldn’t make the seven hour cut-off time. However thankfully I made it in about six and a half hours. All the volunteers at the water stations were very friendly and encouraging, with some even greeting the runners with singing and drumming! I was also able to get some assistance from the helpful medical staff on course to apply ‘magic spray’ on a sore knee.
We took advantage of the extension tour to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, which was equally fantastic. Our five star accommodation at the Victoria Falls Hotel was absolutely amazing … it felt a bit like living in Downton Abby with such a magnificent palace-like buildings and with so many helpful staff, and yet with wart-hogs and monkeys roaming the grounds! The Falls were in full flow, and the mist from the Falls being visible 24/7. We got to do an elephant-back ride which was unforgettable, and were fortunate to take a helicopter ride over the Falls in order to be able to take in their full beauty.
A couple of tips for anyone doing the Big Five marathon trip : book early .. this trip sells out fast! And take plenty of smaller denomination notes for tips and purchases (especially US dollars if going to Victoria Falls).
Overall we had an amazing trip, and anyone reading this should put the Big Five Marathon on your ‘must do’ list! I would certainly like to do this event again! The local Travelling Fit representative in Africa, Veronica, was incredibly friendly and helpful, and ensured that our entire trip ran smoothly. Tina and Felicity from the Australian office handled all our bookings and queries promptly and expertly.
Thanks to all at Travelling Fit for once again organising such an unforgettable running adventure!