About KAEM


The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) is an adventurous and extreme, multi-stage marathon held annually in October in the breath-taking landscape of South Africa’s “Green Kalahari”.  Founded in the year 2000, KAEM is now in its 18th year.

This extreme sports event is a 7 day, 6 stage, self-sufficient foot race, covering an approximate total distance of 250km. Known as the ‘Big Daddy’ in the South African running fraternity, KAEM is one of the most respected extreme multi-stage 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. The route traverses the Augrabies Falls National Park, Daberas as well as private farmlands. This unique and contrasting environment with average day temperatures reaching in excess of 40 degrees Celsius and dropping to below 5 degrees Celsius 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 to 80km. 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 check points at every 8 to 10kms, leaving little chance for participants to get lost. Crew members also monitor the whereabouts and condition of athletes. Should any runner go off route or find themselves in trouble, help will be there within a matter of minutes.


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 and that their food calorie count is sufficient. Needless to say, food intake and energy management plays a critical role in ensuring success in crossing the finish line.

  • Participants need to declare all medication and supplements.
  • Any assistance, including medication, supplements and/or food from outside, i.e. any other participant or crew member (except assistance from the KAEM Medical Team) will result in disqualification from the race.


Although KAEM does not require participants to qualify by having completed specific events or distances, it is critical that participants are physically and mentally fit. It is highly recommended that participants regularly train and participate in marathon distance running in the months leading up to the event.


KAEM invites you to enter the 2017 event and become part of the KAEM family. The 2017 event is scheduled to take place from 26 October to 5 November.

KAEM offers both avid and first-time trail runners a real adventure – an opportunity to run in the footsteps of the ancient Bushmen. With landscapes from fertile vineyards to rocky outcrops, sandy riverbeds and spectacular gorges where temperatures can rise to more than 50 degrees Celsius to the vast outstretches of the Desert and serene sunsets that are unique to the Kalahari, this event will not leave you unchanged. KAEM goes way beyond merely covering 250km in extreme conditions. It is a personal challenge to get past what normal people would regard as crazy.