MOUNT MERU INTERNATIONAL MARATHON
Sunday August 6, 2006
Mt. Meru Int'l Marathon
MERU INTERNATIONAL MARATHON
We would like to acknowledge kind support by Global Partners for Development from States and World Runners from Japan for donating $ 3000 and $ 4000 in the year 2001 and 2002 respectively being prize money awarded to winners. They also donated t-shirts. Special thank should go to Mr. Noriuki Kato of World Runners and Mr. & Mrs.Don Harris And Mr. & Mrs. John Michler of Global Partners for Development. Apart from taking keen interest on Development Projects, they have developed very close relationship with the race. We look forward for their continued cooperation and assistance.
Let me not forget to acknowledge the support extended to us by AFGEM (T) for donating shs.500,000= plus medals and t-shirts, Leopard Tours Ltd. for donating shs.500,000= in 2001 and shs 300,000= in 2002 and Tanapa for donating shs.1,000,000=.
TANZANIA PARKS and RESERVES
CLICK ON MAP BELOW FOR DETAIL MAP OF TANZANIA
Al Boka & Hugh Jones
The city of Arusha lies between Mt. Kilimanjaro and the great Serengeti
plain in northern Tanzania, the heart of wildlife safari country, writes Al Boka.
For 16 years Arusha has also been host to a "running safari",
the Mount Meru International Marathon, which is attracting a growing
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the national parks of Arusha,
Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Mt. Kilimanjaro are just a short distance
away. There are more animals-in-the-wild to see than just about anywhere
else on earth; lions, leopards, elephant, giraffe, rhinos, hippos,
gazelle, buffalo, baboon, etc.
This region of East Africa is the cradle of mankind as well as a
haven for wildlife. Nearby, in the Great Rift Valley's Serengeti Plain,
lies the Olduvai Gorge. Here the oldest known primate fossils considered
to be members of the true human genus; Homo
habilis (handy man), were
found. We are all considered descendents of, and have a common ancestor
in, this "Olduvai Man" who lived approximately 1.75 million
Interesting inhabitants of the region are the Maasai tribe. The
Maasai are traditional nomadic herders and warriors who are being
increasingly drawn towards the urban tourist economy that is present day
Tanzania. However, their way of life is still Spartan and elemental.
While world travellers bounce along rugged roads in their four-wheel
drive vehicles the Maasai pass along serenely, on foot, through the
rough scrub. Covering great distances on foot is part of everyday Maasai
The starting line of the Mt. Meru Marathon also allows a glimpse
into a different life then most runners are accustomed to seeing.
Tanzanian national coach Suleiman Nyambui (500m silver medalist at the
1980 Moscow Olympics) resplendent in national team colours, tends to his
charges. Many have won or placed in marathons overseas while others
aspire to do so. Their running outfits are worn and whether owned or
loaned are partly national issue, partly sponsor-distributed. The rest
is improvised: halfway into the race I noticed a man running in a
Many top Tanzanian runners train at altitude in nearby Moshi and
the Mount Meru Marathon is the only national event in which they can
test their skills. The look and feel of the front line would be the envy
of many race directors elsewhere. The race begins in the town centre, in
front of the clock tower, and heads west.
Jones takes up the story: When
the starting flag is dropped, I’m left standing. After four hundred
metres the only people behind me are the runner-tourists. Nearly all the
Tanzanians are ahead by a clear margin, including all of the six
competing Tanzanian women.
It’s no wonder. There is no such thing as ‘fitness running’
in Tanzania. You run to win, and winning may open up further
possibilities for competition abroad – from which riches could flow.
It’s all there to run for. Out on the road these calculations may
appear overly ambitious and other-worldly. Life goes on as normal all
We run out on the main Dodoma Road (towards the official national
capital many km distant) past early Sunday-morning life. We keep near to
the centre of the road to avoid the activity spilling off from the
pavement: makeshift roadside stands, people on bikes transporting
impossible loads and minibuses cruising for customers. We take a turn to
the north and head out on the Nairobi Road. I catch some of the slower
Tanzanian runners, including a couple of the women.
From early on, laughter from the roadside was part of the
experience. At first it seemed that the cause of mirth was the sight of
a red-faced European puffing along in the wake of the locals. As I
caught the leading woman at 10km, another round of laughter erupted in
our wake. She was wearing running briefs and revealing much more upper
leg than onlookers were used to seeing. Peals of laughter erupted as we
passed and I reflected that she deserves every cent of whatever prize
money she wins.
After 10km the course cuts through farmland on a very roughly
surfaced road, before rejoining the Dodoma Road at Arusha Airport. With
the wind at our backs we raced out, further west, to the turning point.
I counted about fifty runners heading back towards Arusha before I made
that turn myself. With the wind now against us, many suffered. I passed
two dozen runners, some of them jogging and some walking. The survivors
clustered into groups, and the wide gaps between them made for lonely
Coming back into town the roadside activity was in full flow, as
buses revved, cyclists meandered along the edge of the road, and crowds
gathered in a sociable Sunday morning mood. We passed back over the
start line with still a mile to go and finally ran onto the dirt track
inside the city stadium. Crowds packed the stands along the home
straight and spilled over onto the infield. This was the big event of
the weekend and the whole town, it seemed, turned out to enjoy the
Boka adds: A total prize money package of US$3,000 was offered to the top 6 men and
4 women. The men's winner was John Nada Saya in 2:17:04 ($1,000) with
second place going to Benedict Ako in 2:18:05 ($500). Both are from
Arusha. Banuela Mrashani won the women's race in 2:47:21 ($500) while
Blanka James came in second in 2:58:03 ($250). Association of
International Marathons & Roadraces (AIMS) Secretary Hugh Jones was
the first non-Tanzanian finisher in 2:38 for 24th place
Starting just before the marathon, there were 5km runs for approximately
150 boys and girls, including some from neighbouring African nations.
While the children's enthusiasm was unparalleled there was a noticeable
lack of "proper" running equipment. This year's children's run
was hosted by AIMS. The ASICS Corporation and Citizen Watch Company
provided many prizes for the competitors which were presented by Arusha
Mayor Philip Kivuyo, AIMS President Hiroaki Chosa and ASICS Senior
Managing Director Masaaki Uetsuki. There could be future Olympic
champions in there somewhere.
A special meeting of the AIMS Board of Directors was held in conjunction
with the race. It was the first time the board has met in Africa. The
hosts in Arusha were most gracious and accommodated all of our
requirements. The AIMS meeting preceded, by two weeks, the arrival of
President Clinton for the Burundi Peace Meeting.
AIMS was established in May 1982 with its first World Congress in
London. For two years, before that, informal meetings had been held in
New York, Honolulu and other venues by some of the world's leading
marathon race directors including Will Cloney (Boston), Fred Lebow (New
York) and Chris Brasher (London) with a view to setting up such an
The objectives of AIMS of are:
· to foster and promote road running throughout the world;
· to work with the International Amateur Athletic Federation on all matters relating to international road races, and;
· to exchange information, knowledge and expertise among the members of the Association.
From those beginnings 18 years ago, AIMS has made remarkable progress.
At the 5th World Congress of AIMS held in 1989 in Melbourne, membership
was extended beyond marathons to include all road races.
AIMS has become the major force behind the development and progress of
road running throughout the world. From 28 members in 1982 it has grown
to over 150 members in more than 50 countries, including nearly all the
world's premier marathons and many major road races at other distances.
AIMS has set firm standards of course measurement. The IAAF has
recognised and adopted the AIMS system as its standard. All AIMS members
are required to have their courses so measured.
AIMS continues to co-operate with the IAAF in holding course measurement
seminars in various parts of the world, and in questions relating to
doping control. The IAAF contributes to the publication of a joint
magazine with AIMS, Distance
Running, which is distributed worldwide to 450,000 runners
participating in AIMS member events.
AIMS recognises world fastest times on the road is working with the IAAF
on acceptable criteria for joint recognition of world road records.
For more information on AIMS visit their web site at: