Top 10 Africa Ultra Marathons 2024 & 2025

Kit O Callaghan Ultra X

Written By KIT O'CALLAGHAN

Kit is a recent Broadcast Journalism graduate and our newest placement student. An outdoor enthusiast, he gets stuck in to all things sports media; most recently covering mountaineering, American football, and ultra running.

16 February 2024

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

Conquering the African Trails: Top 10 Ultra Marathons in Africa for 2024/5

Get ready to lace up your running shoes and embrace the thrill of endurance! Africa’s untamed landscapes play host to some of the world’s most challenging ultramarathons. From the rugged trails of South Africa to the scenic deserts of Namibia, this list unveils the continent’s top 10 ultramarathons that will push your limits and ignite your passion for extreme running. Let the adventure begin!

Marathon des Sables Runners

Ultra X Rwanda

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Dates: 25th-26th January 2025

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Distance: 110km (2 days) /50km (1 day)

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Elevation: 3,042m/902m

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Price: £600-975

Set for its debut in January 2025, Ultra X Rwanda highlights the captivating beauty of the “Land of a Thousand Hills.” The race takes place in the North of the country near the Volcanoes National Park (where the famous mountain gorillas are based) and the twin lakes: Lake Ruhondo and Lake Burera. Over the two day, 110km course, runners will traverse through tea plantations, dense forests, and rural villages, offering a glimpse into Rwanda’s vibrant culture. This event not only challenges athletes physically but also provides a unique cultural experience; it goes far beyond just being another race. Ultra X are offering an optional add-on package which provides runners with the incredible opportunity to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial and famous Akagera National Park after the race. Ultra X Rwanda looks to be a true African adventure!

Salt Pans Ultra Marathon

Salt Pans Ultramarathon Botswana

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Dates: 28th September 2024

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Distance: 100km /50km – both one day

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Elevation: 52m

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 2,000m

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 Desert

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 Intermediate

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Price: £196/£137

If you love running far but hate hills this is the event for you! Don’t be fooled into thinking that makes this event easy though. According to the website this is the ‘toughest flat route race in the World’. There are limited points of reference, no route markings, extreme temperatures, and plenty of time on your own to think about what on Earth you signed up for…but I know some people love this ‘off the beaten track’ approach. The race starts at 2am, yes, in the morning, on the Southern end of Sua Pan (the Eastern pan of the huge Makgadikgadi Salt Pans), which is not the easiest place in the World to get to. The route then heads North into the vast emptiness of the Pan where you’ll have 17 hours to cross the finish line to earn your medal.

For Rangers Ultra Marathon Kenya Desert Safari

The Namib Race

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Dates: 18th-22nd November 202

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Distance: 250km (5 days)

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Elevation: 1230m

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Price: £2500

The Namib Race is a 7-day, 250 km/155 mile ultra which takes place within the oldest desert in the world. The course takes you through amazing desert scenery including wide-open red plains, scattered mountain outcrops, huge expanses of dramatic sand dunes, moon-like landscapes, thunderous Atlantic coastline, and a fascinating array of plants and animals. This race offers a fantastic alternative to the pricy and often-oversubscribed Marathon Des Sables across the Sahara.

For Rangers Ultra

For Rangers Ultra

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Dates: 2nd-6th September 2024

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Distance: 230km – 5 days

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Elevation: Info not available

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Price: £2,800

The ‘For Rangers’ Ultra Marathon stands out as one of the best in Africa for several reasons. Not only does it offer a unique blend of challenging terrain and awe-inspiring wildlife encounters, but all profits from the race go towards two fantastic charities: Save the Rhino and For Rangers. The course takes participants through breathtaking landscapes, from rugged mountain trails to lush savannas, providing an unparalleled experience for trail runners. Over the five days of running, you are guaranteed to get views of iconic African wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, and zebras. Don’t worry though, Racing The Planet is unwavering in its commitment to safety, with meticulous route planning and vigilant support teams including helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, 4×4’s, and rangers out on course ensuring participants can focus on the adventure and seeing the incredible wildlife from a safe distance..

Comrades Ultra Marathon Start Line

Comrades Marathon: The Ultimate Human Race

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Dates: 9th June 202

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Distance: 87km

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Elevation: 1,913m

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Price: £188

This race is celebrated not just for its challenging 90km course but also for fostering unparalleled camaraderie. The Comrades Marathon, run annually between Durban and Pietermaritzburg (or vice versa) in South Africa, is the largest and oldest on the planet. The tough qualifying standard (requiring completion of an officially timed 42.2km marathon in under 4 hours and 50 minutes, or a 56km ultra-marathon in under 6 hours and 45 minutes) creates a mark of respect between competitors right from the start-line, thus creating an environment where competitors become comrades, united by a common pursuit of personal achievement. Running the Comrades Marathon provides a sense of community and mutual encouragement that makes this an extraordinary event, rightly deserving of its place on this list.

Grand Raid de la Réunion

Grand Raid de la Reunion

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Dates: 17th-20th October 2024

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Distance: 162km (full distance)

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Elevation: 10,000m

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Price: £179

This is a mountainous ultramarathon on Réunion Island, located between Madagascar and Mauritius. The full distance, 170km tour takes runners around the circumference of the island and over its challenging 10,500m of elevation gain. The race was first held in 1989 with a 125km route and has since developed into a tougher 170km race with over 7,000 competitors across all the distances. Along the course you can expect incredible views of volcanoes, waterfalls, luscious green forests, and tropical beaches as Réunion Island is like a small continent with highly diverse landscapes and weather conditions. The event’s international allure attracts many elite athletes so if you want to test yourself against the very best, this is the event for you.

Sao Tome Island Image Global Limits Ultra Marathon Location

Global Limits Sao Tome

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Dates: 9th-17th August 2024

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Distance: 200km – 6 days

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Elevation: 6000m

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Price: £2,090

The Global Limits São Tomé Ultramarathon isn’t just a race; it’s a wild rollercoaster of tropical bliss and rugged challenges that’ll leave your heart pounding with exhilaration. The location gives competitors a unique challenge to run through the archipelago, crossing cocoa and coffee plantations, witnessing the island’s unusual histories, and camping on idyllic beaches where five species of turtles still lay their eggs when in season. Another unique feature of this race is its finish line – located exactly on the Equator and the closest place on Earth to the coordinates 0°N 0°E – where the Equator crosses the 0° meridian. To get there you have to take a ferry after 10km of running on the final stage of the race, and then run a further 6km to the exact spot! This is definitely not a race you’ll forget after completing it.

Transgrancanaria Ultra

Ultra X Tanzania

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Dates: 26th February – 1st March 2024

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Distance: 220km – 5 days

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Elevation: 5,872m

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Price: £1,962

Top of the list, and for good reason. Ultra X Tanzania is everything you would want from an African ultramarathon and more. 5 days, and 220km covering some of the most incredible scenery on planet Earth. You’ll run part way up the famous Mount Kilimanjaro, through small villages where you’ll be cheered on by the local communities, and you’ll spend each night getting to know your fellow competitors at tranquil campsites. Ultra X’s ethos of inclusivity and sustainability encourages runners to push boundaries while

embracing the spirit of exploration and camaraderie. Competitors become lifelong friends over the week and bring home with them incredible memories and the knowledge that they can do so much more than what they thought possible. This race truly stands for everything that an African ultramarathon should be.

Grand Raid de la Réunion

Ultra X Morocco

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Dates: 16th-17th November 2024

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Distance: 110km (2 days) / 50km (1 day)

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Elevation: 1,323m/410m

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Price: £145-£520

Despite only being in its second year in 2024, this incredible Moroccan ultra marathon stands out as one of Ultra X’s flagship events. The race takes place in Ouarzazate, in the shadow of the high Atlas Mountains. Runners navigate through rocky trails, ancient villages, and iconic film sets. Along the route you’ll pass the World Heritage Site Aït Benhaddou before crossing the finish line at the iconic Atlas Film Studios – home of Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, The Mummy, and many other famous flicks. The flat(ish) course is perfect for first time ultra runners and competitive runners alike.

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