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The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) is an adventurous and extreme, multi-stage marathon. It takes place in the breath-taking landscape of South Africa’s “Green Kalahari”, annually in October.  Founded in the year 2000, KAEM is now in its 21st year (having had to cancel KAEM 2020 and KAEM 2021 due to Covid-19 related participants’ safety and event hosting restrictions).

This extreme multi-stage marathon and sports event is a 7 day, 6 stage, self-sufficient foot race. It covers an approximate total distance of 250km. Known as the ‘Big Daddy’ in the South African running fraternity, KAEM is one of the most prominent extreme marathons on the International Trail Running calendar. Furthermore, it is a unique desert multi-stage marathon in that the route runs across a variety of terrain and landscapes. Most noteworthy KAEM starts and finishes in the Augrabies National Park and stretches also runs through this beautiful nature with wildlife and game.


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 and private farmlands. This unique and contrasting environment presents a daunting challenge to the extreme athlete and determined adventurer alike. Average daily temperatures reach in excess of 40 degrees Celsius while night temperatures can drop to below 5 degrees Celsius. The Kalahari Desert offers something magical for each participant to enjoy. Most noteworthy is the terrain that comprises vast outstretches of arid desert, sandy riverbeds, spectacular gorges, rocky outcrops and boulder-strewn koppies. In addition, along the Orange River it runs alongside fertile vineyards.


The multi-stage marathon of 250km is divided into 6 stages. Distances stretch from 25km to 48km each day with a long day covering approximately 75km. While daily distances are published approximately 10 weeks before the event, the organisers provide route details to participants on the day of registration. Therefore, there is no unfair advantage in planning. The Race Director marks the route clearly throughout the course and positions check points at every 8 to 10kms. This provides athletes clear direction and thus leaves little chance for participants to get lost on route. In addition, crew members continuously monitor the whereabouts and condition of athletes.


Participants must carry all their supplies, clothes and compulsory safety equipment for the duration of the event. KAEM provides overnight shelter in camps as well as water. The organisers distribute the water in set quantities during the race.  In cases of extreme heat, where circumstances demand, organisers will provide participants additional water. In addition, the crew and support also include professional medical backup and sports physios.


Participants must produce a medical certificate prior to the event. The KAEM medical team monitors the runners daily and attends to medical needs during the event. Participants and their backpacks undergo inspection prior to the start. The purpose of inspection is to ensure that participants have prepared enough food. Also, the crew checked that participants will carry all compulsory equipment due. Food intake and energy management plays a critical role in ensuring success in crossing the finish line. Yet, each participant needs to ensure that their food calories are sufficient.

  • Participants need to declare all medication and supplements. Therefore, obtain the necessary information related to any potential medication restrictions.
  • Since it is a self-sufficient event, assistance from anyone is not allowed and therefore will result in disqualification from the race. Such assistance includes medication, supplements or food from any other participant or crew member (except assistance from the KAEM Medical Team).


KAEM does not require participants to qualify by having completed specific events or distances. Yet, KAEM is a multi-stage marathon event. It is critical that participants are physically and mentally fit. Hence, it is important that participants regularly train including marathon distance running in the months leading up to the event.


KAEM invites you to enter the 2022 multi-stage marathon event and become part of the KAEM family. The 2022 event is scheduled to take place from
6 October to 16 October. Check out our pricing schedule and contact us for more information.

KAEM offers both avid and first-time trail runners a real adventure. You get the opportunity to run in the footsteps of the ancient Bushmen. The route covers a variety of landscapes, from fertile vineyards to rocky outcrops, sandy riverbeds and spectacular gorges and the vast outstretches of the arid desert. This is one element that makes KAEM unique, a desert race offering a variety of terrain to run through. One of the extreme elements to cope with is the heat, especially within the gorges where temperatures can rise to more than 50 degrees Celsius. Yet, with long days in the desert, serene sunsets and African starry nights, this event does not leave you unchanged. It goes way beyond merely covering 250km in the desert. It offers a personal challenge to achieve personal goals, getting past what normal people would regard as crazy.

Furthermore, KAEM brings people and athletes from all over the world together. You make new friends and become part of the KAEM family. As much as it is a physical and mental challenge, KAEM is about camaraderie, friendship and family.

GET YOUR ENTRY NOW by completing and submitting your online registration. Alternatively, you can contact us by sending an email to

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