Big Five Marathon

15 June 2024

Race Information

Read all about the details!

Here you will find all the important practical information about the race, such as rules and regulations, training, timing, race day support, clothing, weather and more. If you don’t find the answer you’re seeking, feel free to contact us with your question.

Topics are arranged in alphabetical order.


Short-sleeved technical shirts are a good choice. Sun block is a must (use SPF 30 or above), a running hat with visor is also advisable as it can help keep the sun out of your eyes. It's essential to bring a warm winter jacket, a warm hat, scarf and gloves for game drives and transfers.

Cut-off Times

To ensure runners’ safety, three cut-off points have been established on the route:


Cut-off 1 - 26.5km - 4 hours and 15 minutes after the start
Cut-off 2 - 32.5km - 5 hours and 30 minutes after the start
Cut-off 3 - finish line - 7 hours after the start

Half Marathon
Cut-off 1 - 10.5km – 4 hours after the start
Cut-off 2 - 16.5 km – 5 hours and 15 minutes after the start
Cut-off 3 – finish line – 6 hours and 45 minutes after the start 

Runners who haven’t reached the cut-off points in time will not be allowed to continue and will be picked up by a ranger vehicle and taken back to the finish line. The cut-off times are strictly enforced to keep everybody safe! 


The  Big Five Marathon features two distances:

Full marathon - 42.195km/26.2mi

Half marathon - 21.1km/13.1mi

Distance Change

It is possible to change the distance you want to run up to 10 days before the race starts. All you need to do is contact us with your request.

If you want to change your distance while on tour, contact a race official before or after the race briefing. You must bring your original race number!

Change of distance is NOT PERMITTED on Race Day.


Marathon and half marathon runners - must be at least 18 years old on race day.

Future Race Dates

In 2023, The Big Five Marathon will take place on 17 June.

In 2024, the race will take place on 15 June.

Goodie Bag

Runners will receive their goodie bags on Friday at 10 am after the route inspection. Inside this bag you'll find your start number, race t-shirt, information on the route, and your timing chip/velcro strap. 

Medical Team

A team of Danish doctors and South African paramedics will be present during inspection and race days. The Medical Team reserves the right to remove any runner who is deemed unable to complete the race. Please note that all decisions made by the Medical Team or Race Officials are final.

Doctors and race officials will be positioned along, and move in and out of, the route, but will not be able to monitor all parts at all times. We kindly ask all runners to look out for each other and report to race officials, water stations or doctors if you see a fellow runner in need of help.

There is no malaria in Entabeni, but if you plan to travel to other parts of South Africa, risk of malaria may be present elsewhere. We strongly recommend that you consult with your physician about vaccinations before travelling.

If you take daily medicine prescribed by your physician or need any other medication, please inform the race doctors in advance by writing to


A variety of exclusive Big Five Marathon merchandise can be purchased upon return from the race inspection, on Saturday after the race, and Sunday during the dinner.  

Personal Belongings

It is possible to leave jackets, sweaters, hat and other personal belongings at the start and pick it up after finishing the race. If possible, please leave personal belongings in a bag or backpack. Please mark your personal belongings clearly with your name and bib number! Do not place any valuables among the items you hand in on race day. Although the personal belongings are under staff surveillance, Entabeni Safari Conservancy and the Big Five Marathon organisers cannot be held responsible for any lost items.  

Photos & Certificate

Marathon Photos will take personal photos of all runners. The photos can be purchased after the race from 

Your Finisher's Certificate will be available for free download.

Prizes and Awards

All finishers receive a medal. A small, symbolic prize is given to the winners of both distances for men and women. Please note that there is no prize money.

Race Briefing

Race officials will provide all participants with a race briefing the evening before the race, which will cover everything from a preliminary weather forecast to a brief presentation of the important route notes.

Race officials and rangers will be present to answer any questions you may have. Official Big Five Marathon merchandise will also be available for purchase.

Race Officials Disclaimer

English-speaking race officials from Albatros Adventure Marathons™ are in charge of the event. The race officials reserve the right to change the course and other aspects of the race without advance notice.

Please note that all decisions made by the race officials and/or medical team are final.

By signing up for this event you agree to the Terms & Conditions of Albatros Adventure Marathons™.


There are few ways to register for The Big Five Marathon, depending on your place of residency.

To sign up you must besides the race entry purchase one of two holiday packages: the 6-day itinerary or the 8-day itinerary. The same packages are available for spectators.

It’s not possible to sign up for race only unless you are a permanent resident of South Africa.
If you are a permanent resident of South Africa, contact us for information about registration by writing to

Route Map & Elevation Profile

For information on the marathon and half-marathon routes, start and finish line, drink stations and other course-related information, see Route & Elevation.


Rules & Regulations

Change of Distance: If you decide to change distance during the race, the race result will read FNT (finished no time). All runners who change distances before race day will be registered accordingly and receive an official time.

Top Finishers: The top three male and female finishers of all distances are the first three to physically cross the finish line regardless of their net time.

Gear: Nordic walking and trekking poles are not allowed.

Please note that under certain circumstances, we may need to pick up our runners. If this were the case, the safety of our runners is our priority. 

Start / Bib Numbers

You will receive your start/bib number in the race goodie bag.

All runners will receive two bib numbers that must be worn during the race. They must be attached to the front and back of your body and readable - both for safety and for photography purposes! The bib numbers are color-coded according to the distance you are running: 

- Full marathon bibs - black
- Half-marathon - red

Please do not bend or fold the bibs as the timing chip inside may break. 

Time Taking & Results

The Big Five Marathon is timed by Champion Chip using a bib chip system where the timing chip is attached to your bib number. All results will be net time, meaning your time starts from the moment you cross the start line. However, the top three male and female finishers of both distances are found on gun time - the first three to physically cross the finish line.

Results will be available here after the race.


The weather is very dry, sunny and cool at this time of the year. Participants can expect a temperature of around 15-25 degrees Celsius during the day, but with variations due to sun, shade, wind and altitude.  Please note that mornings and evenings are very cold. At night, the temperature can easily fall below 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit).


Please note that both half and full marathon runners will receive a wristband to prove that they went all the way passed the Yellowwood Valley. Half marathon runners will receive the wristband after the dam, the full marathon runners will receive theirs at the water station, near Hanglip Mountain Lodge. The wristband must be worn for the remainder of the race to the finish line. No wristband = disqualification.