Big Five Marathon

Nights
from 6
Date
June 15, 2024
  • Half Marathon
  • Marathon

If you have questions regarding Marathon Tours & Travel’s Big Five Packages please: EMAIL OUR TRIP DESIGNER or CALL 617-242-7845

The Big Five Marathon and Half-Marathon provides the opportunity to run among the wildlife in their natural habitat in the northeastern corner of South Africa. The course is in the Entabeni Game Reserve, which is a 220KM private reserve situated in the Limpopo Province between Johannesburg and the Kruger National Park.

The package tour includes game drives in four-wheel jeeps through the Reserve. You will have the opportunity to view the “Big Five” (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros) as well as numerous other species such as giraffe, hippopotamus and the many splendid species of antelope, not to mention the abundance of bird life. Your safari lodges will offer spectacular views to the mighty Entabeni-monolith.

Meals Included

Meals Included

Breakfast, lunch & dinner are provided daily (see itinerary)

Guide

Guide

Support throughout your stay from Albatros Staff

Transfers

Transfers

Group transfers & game drives (see itinerary)

Trip Extension

Trip Extension

Various trip extensions available as add-ons

Accommodation

Accommodation

Choice of lodge, resort & camp accommodations

Entry

Entry

Guaranteed marathon or half-marathon entry

Celebration Party

Celebration Party

Celebration dinner with live entertainment

Excursions

Excursions

Various social events & sightseeing opportunities

Travel Package Information

  • Itinerary

    • Big Five Marathon Package/6 Nights/June 12 - 18, 2024

      Wednesday, June 12
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      Arrive at Johannesburg International Airport (JNB) for your transfer to Entabeni Safari Conservancy

      Transfer departure times from the airport are: 8:30am, 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm and 4:00pm. Depending on your arrival time you may need to arrive the day before to connect with one of the following transfers or book an individual transfer at an extra cost.

      Upon arrival to Entabeni you will meet your tour leader and be checked in at your respective lodge/camp. Participants arriving on one of the first three transfers (departure from Johannesburg International Airport at 08:30, 10:00 & 12:00) will have the possibility to go on the first of several exciting game drives. The game drives will provide the opportunity to experience an authentic African safari in serene surroundings. The Entabeni Safari Conservancy offers diverse wildlife, open safari vehicles and relatively few tourists, creating an ideal wilderness atmosphere. (Dinner included).

      Thursday, June 13
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      Today is dedicated to exploring the game reserve through a game drive and/or a bush walk. We will get accustomed to the park’s geography, and climate, and we can slowly start preparing ourselves for Saturday’s exciting event: The Big Five Marathon.

      The game drive is included in the itinerary and will take place either in the early morning or in the late afternoon. A bush walk with an experienced armed ranger is also included on the second day, giving us a chance to get really close to the nature and wildlife. Additional game drives and bush walks can be purchased on spot. Alternatively, some of your free time can also be used for shorter runs outside Entabeni – the tour leader will help organize the runs.

      Please Note: June is winter time in South Africa and while the temperature often rises to 20-25 degrees Celsius (68 – 77 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day, temperatures around 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) at night time is not unusual! Especially the large drop from day to night time temperatures makes the evenings and mornings feel extremely cold. It is therefore essential to bring a winter jacket, warm hat and gloves when going on game drives! Blankets are available in the jeeps for extra warmth.

      Over the last few years, the reserve’s wildlife has become increasingly accustomed to tourists. It is therefore not uncommon to see elephants, giraffes and different species of antelopes grazing in close proximity to the safari vehicles. A pride of lions even occasionally holds up traffic, lying lazily across the track. We use open 4×4 safari vehicles, which provide us with an excellent opportunity for viewing the wildlife in safety. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included).

      Friday, June 14
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      After breakfast all the participants are transported from their respective lodges/camp to the starting point of the marathon. Before we set off for the start line, there will be a short briefing about the route inspection. All safari vehicles follow the route in a convoy, allowing the participants to examine the different running surfaces, note the locations of water posts, and assess the overall difficulty of the route. After the route inspection a large buffet lunch will be served. This is the time where everyone is gathered – the participants, race officials, medical staff and rangers – for a formal introduction to the event, and a presentation of the practical issues surrounding the marathon. There are no scheduled game drives this day. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included).

      Saturday, June 15
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      It is race day! Today you will be met by a challenge that will be worth remembering: The Big Five Marathon. In the morning all participants will be transported from the various lodges and camps to the starting line in time for final preparations. The marathon is planned to start at 9:00am, but delays may occur, as the exact start time will be dependent on the location of the big five game – if too close to the route, the start will be postponed. There are no scheduled game drives this day. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included).

      Sunday, June 16
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      Today we have time to relax after running on the African savannah. Additional game drives and excursions can be purchased and, in the afternoon, we will experience yet another fantastic game drive followed by our post-marathon celebration. There will be great food, live entertainment, an award ceremony, a big bonfire and partying under the starry skies. Please be aware that the party takes place in a traditional South African boma with open roof and large open doorways. It is therefore advisable to dress warm! For the same reason there’s no dress code and casual clothing is recommended. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included).

      Monday, June 17
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      On the final day at the Entabeni Private Game Reserve you will have one last game drive either in the morning or in the afternoon. Those interested will also get the opportunity to stretch their legs on one final bush walk. In the evening farewell dinners will be held at the respective lodges. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included).

      Tuesday, June 18
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      Our week at Entabeni Safari Conservancy has come to an end and it’s time to head back to Johannesburg. Your transfer from Entabeni to Johannesburg International Airport will have you arriving at the airport at 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 4:00 PM or 6:00 PM depending on your flight departure time. If you wish, you can choose one of our three optional post-race extensions and extend your stay. Like when you arrive, for an extra charge, you can book an individual transfer to Johannesburg if the group transfers don’t fit your onward journey. (Breakfast included)

    • Big Five South African Experience Package/7 Nights/June 11 – June 18, 2024

      Tuesday, June 11
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      Your tour will start and end at Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport (JNB).  All participants will be transferred at set transfer times from the airport to the Zebra Nature Reserve.

      Transfer departure times from the airport are 8:30am, 10:00am, 12:00pm and 2:00pm.  Depending on your arrival time you may need to arrive the day before to connect with one of the following transfers or book an individual transfer at an extra cost.

      Participants arriving on one of the first three transfers (8:30am, 10:00am or 12:00pm) will enjoy a tour of Pretoria enroute before arriving at the Zebra Nature Reserve, which is set in 400 Hectares of free roaming non predatory animals.

      After arrival at Zebra Nature Reserve, you will enjoy lunch before check-in.  In the afternoon there will be a guided nature walk ending at the reptile center where you will have the chance to learn about many of the endemic reptile species. (Lunch and dinner included).

      Wednesday, June 12
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      Today we will visit South Africa’s most famous township Soweto and the administrative capital Pretoria. With a guide who was born and raised in Soweto you’ll hear personal insights into the culture of the township and learn about Soweto’s vibrant modern personality. During the visit in Soweto, we will also visit the Apartheid Museum and the Hector Pieterson Memorial. In Pretoria, your tour guide will show you the Voortrekker Monument and the Union Building (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Thursday, June 13
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      After breakfast we will drive three hours to Entabeni Game Reserve and Legend Safari Resort. In the afternoon we will go on the first of several exciting game drives in Entabeni, The game drives provide an opportunity to experience an authentic African safari in serene surroundings. Diverse wildlife viewing in open safari vehicles with knowledgeable park rangers and relatively few tourists, creates an ideal wilderness atmosphere. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included).

      Friday, June 14
      Show details Hide details

      After breakfast, all guests are transported from their respective lodges/camp to the starting point of the marathon. Before we set off for the start line, there will be a short briefing about the route inspection. All safari vehicles follow the route in a convoy, allowing the participants to examine the different running surfaces, note the locations of water posts, and assess the overall difficulty of the route. After the route inspection a large buffet lunch will be served.

      This is the time where everyone is gathered – the participants, race officials, medical staff and rangers – for a formal introduction to the event, and a presentation of the practical issues surrounding the marathon. There are no scheduled game drives today. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Saturday, June 15
      Show details Hide details

      It is race day! In the morning all guests will be transported from the various lodges and camps to the starting line in time for final preparations. The marathon is planned to start at 9:00 AM, however delays may occur, as the exact start time will be dependent on the location of the big five game – if too close to the route, the start will be postponed. There are no scheduled game drives today. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Sunday, June 16
      Show details Hide details

      Today we have time to relax after running on the African savannah. Additional game drives and excursions can be purchased and, in the afternoon, we will experience yet another fantastic game drive followed by our post-marathon celebration. There will be great food, live entertainment, an award ceremony, a big bonfire, and partying under the starry skies. Please be aware that the party takes place in a traditional South African boma with open roof and large open doorways. It is therefore advisable to dress warm! There is no dress code and casual clothing is recommended. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Monday, June 17
      Show details Hide details

      On the final day at the Entabeni Safari Conservancy, you will have one last game drive in the morning.  Those interested will also get the opportunity to stretch their legs on one final bush walk. In the evening farewell dinners will be held at the respective lodges.  (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

      Tuesday, June 18
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      Our week at Entabeni Safari Conservancy has come to an end and it’s time to head back to Johannesburg. Your transfer from Entabeni to Johannesburg International Airport will have you arriving at the airport at 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 4:00 PM or 6:00 PM depending on your flight departure time.

      If you wish, you can choose one of our three optional post-race extensions and extend your stay. Like when you arrive, for an extra charge, you can book an individual transfer to Johannesburg if the group transfers don’t fit your onward journey. (Breakfast included)

  • Extensions

    • Cape Town | Four-Night Package: June 18- June 22, 2024

      Cape Town is a beautiful metropolis – whether you’re enthused by glorious waterfronts, towering mountains, rich culture, or flavorful cuisine, you will be captivated by this South African gem.

      Underneath the renowned Table Mountain lies the blue, frothy waters of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. South Africa’s southern cape marks this oceanic convergence, and during your journey we pay a visit to one of the most famous of the meeting points – Cape Point at The Cape of Good Hope. Other activities that are sure to whet your whistle include a tour of the Winelands with tastings (of course!) and various highlights throughout Cape Town itself.

      Big Five Safari & Panorama Route| Four-Night Package: June 18 – 22, 2024

      Treat yourself to more game drives and bush walks! Stay at our Mantobeni tented camp situated near the world-famous Kruger National Park and extend your safari adventure.

      Join us for an exciting safari trip which includes game drives, bush walks, and exploration of the area along the famed Panorama Route.

      Spot the Big Five game and a wealth of bird species, as well as other African wildlife. Our camp is beautifully situated in the Manyeleti Game Reserve, bordering the famed Kruger National Park. Consisting of fifteen stylishly-appointed tents with modern ensuite facilities and private terraces, a pool, bar, lounge and dining area and spacious, lush lawns, the camp provides an authentic African safari experience. During our stay in Mantobeni Camp, we will have the opportunity to visit a local community situated beside the reserve that our camp works closely with. This is a great chance to gain insight into the daily lives of the locals. If you are interested in the local community visit, please let the tour leader know in advance.

      Victoria Falls | Three-Night Package: June 18 – 21, 2024

      Extend your African adventure by joining us for an exciting 4-day extension to one of the world’s largest waterfalls.

      With a height of 108 meters, a combined width of 1700 meters, and picturesque rain forest backdrop, Victoria Falls is an impressive place to spend four days topping off your African adventure.

      In the Bantu language, the falls are called “mosi-oa-tunya,” which means “the smoke that thunders,” and that is a perfect representation of Victoria Falls – a huge puff of “smoke” accompanied by the thunderous sound of the water.

  • Packages & Rates

    • Big Five Marathon Tour | Six-Night Package: June 12-18, 2024

      Features:

      • Accommodations for six (6) nights, choose from our three lodges within Entabeni Game Reserve or at Legend Golf & Safari Resort.
      • Three meals included daily
      • All hotel taxes
      • Roundtrip transfers from Johannesburg airport (see below)
      • Game viewing drives with a park ranger
      • Bush Walk
      • Pre-Race briefing and Course Tour
      • Guaranteed race entry is $365 USD (in addition to the package rates listed below)
      • Post-Race dinner and celebration

      Please Note: Included airport transfers are offered on arrival to Entabeni June 14 at 8:30am, 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm and 4:00pm.  Included transfers are offered for departure from Entabeni (June 18) for ARRIVAL to Johannesburg Airport at 8:00am, 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00pm and 6:00pm.   Should your flights not arrive or depart within the times listed, private transfers can be arranged for an additional cost of $490 USD each way (maximum four people).

      Big Five South African Experience | Seven-Night Package: June 11 – 18, 2024

      Features:

      • Two nights’ accommodation at the Zebra Stables in the Zebra Nature Reserve
      • Arrival transfer from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to your hotel (see timetable below)
      • Three meals included daily
      • Guided nature walk through the Zebra Nature Reserve
      • Guided nature drive through the Zebra Nature Reserve
      • Full Day Guided Tour of Soweto and Pretoria
      • Transfer to Entabeni Game Reserve
      • Five nights’ accommodation at Legend Safari Resort
      • Game viewing drives with a park ranger
      • Bush walks
      • Post-race dinner and celebration
      • Return transfer to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg (see timetable below)
      • All taxes included
      • Guaranteed Race Entry is available for $365.00 USD (in addition to package rates listed below)

      Please Note: Included airport transfers are offered on arrival on June 11 for DEPARTURE from OR Tambo at 8:30am, 10:00am, 12:00pm and 2:00pm.  Included airport transfers are offered departure from Entabeni June 20 for ARRIVAL to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg at 8:00am, 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00pm and 6:00pm.  Should your flights not arrive or depart within the times listed, private transfers can be arranged for an additional cost of $490.00 USD per way (maximum four people).

      Not Included:

      • International Roundtrip Airfare
      • Race entry fees
      • All activities listed as optional
      • Gratuities and tips unless noted above
      • Meals unless noted on itinerary
      • All Incidentals
      • Travel Insurance (highly recommended)
      • Visa (if applicable)

      Post-Race Optional Extensions

      Option #1 – Cape Town | Four-Night Package: June 18 – 22, 2024

      Features:

      • Accommodations for four (4) nights at the Southern Sun Waterfront Cape Town
      • Full day Cape Point Tour
      • Full day sightseeing tour of the Winelands
      • Transportation from the hotel to the Cape Town Airport (CPT)
      • Meals daily per itinerary
      • One way flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town

      Please Note: Flights should be booked into Johannesburg (JNB) and out of Cape Town International Airport (CPT).

      Option #2 – Safari | Four-Night Package: June 18 – 22, 2024

      Features:

      • Accommodations for four (4) nights at Mantobeni Tented Camp (situated near Kruger National Park)
      • Transportation from Entabeni to Manyeleti Game Reserve Meals daily per itinerary Zip Wire Adventure (activity is suitable for everyone)
      • Morning and Afternoon Game Drives per itinerary
      • Game drives and bush walks per itinerary
      • Transportation from Manyeleti Game Reservation to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Airport (approximate time of arrival is 3:00pm)

      Option #3 – Victoria Falls | Three-Night Package: June 18 – 21, 2024

      Features:

      • Accommodations for three (3) nights at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge (Waterhole View Room)
      • Meals daily per itinerary
      • Roundtrip flights from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls Roundtrip airport transfer to the hotel
      • Tour of the Falls (Zimbabwe)
      • Sundowner Cruise on the Zambezi
      • Borma Dinner Drum Show
      • Optional: Full Day Tour to Chobe National Park (an additional $195 per person)

      Flight Times (subject to change): TBD

      Please Note: Your visa to Zimbabwe is not included. Visit the U.S. Department of State website for details.

      Travel Insurance

      Travel Insurance for U.S. Residents

      Travel Insurance for Canadian Residents

      Rates (all prices per person and in US dollars)

      Six-Night PackageDouble OccupancySingle Occupancy
      Wildside Tented Camp - Limited Availability $3055 per person$3895
      Lakeside Lodge - SOLD OUT$3420 per person$4475
      Legend Safari Resort$3420 per person$4475
      Hanglip Mountain Lodge - SOLD OUT$3785 per person$4980
      Seven-Night PackageDouble OccupancySingle Occupancy
      Zebra Stables & Legends Safari Resort$3540 per person$4385
      Post-Race Optional Extensions
      PackageDouble OccupancySingle Occupancy
      Cape Town Four-Night Package$1830 per person$2335
      Safari Four-Night Package$1830 per person$2300
      Victoria Falls Three-Night Package$3360 per person$4690
  • Event Information

    • Race Date:  Saturday, June 15, 2024

      Race Time: 9:00 AM (Marathon) and 9:15 AM (Half-Marathon)

      Course: The Big Five Marathon is known for its challenging course, which takes runners through incredible scenery and showcases the natural beauty and wildlife of South Africa. Course InformationCourse Map and Course Elevation.

      Temperature: The weather is very dry, sunny and cool at this time of the year. Participants can expect a temperature of around 60 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, but with variations due to sun, shade wind and altitude.

      Entry Fee: Entry $365 USD per person.

      Eligibility: Runners must be a minimum of 18 years old on race day.

      Time Limit: To ensure runners’ safety, three cut-off points have been established on the route.  The cut-off times are extremely strict, so please review the information below very carefully.

      Marathon

      • Cut-off #1 – 26.5km – 4 hours and 15 minutes after start
      • Cut-off #2 – 32.5km – 5 hours and 15 minutes after start
      • Cut-off #3 – Finish Line – 7 hours after start

      Half-Marathon

      • Cut-off #1 – 10.5km – 4 hours after start
      • Cut-off #2 – 16.5km – 5 hours after start
      • Cut-off #3 – Finish Line – 6 hours 45 minutes after 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 everyone safe!  It is recommended that you add at least 25% to your “flat” marathon time (ex. If you are a 4 hour marathoner plan for this race to take you 5 hours).

      *Please keep these times in mind especially if you are on a quest to complete a marathon on all seven continents.  Should you finish even 30 seconds after the cut-off times you will receive a DNF or FNT and it will NOT count towards a completed continent.

      Number Pickup: Your bib number, timing chip and t-shirt will be handed out after the route inspection.  Do not fold or wrinkle the number as this may damage the chip.  You will get two copies of your bib number and both must be clearly visible to the race officials at all times during the race, one on the front and one on the back.

      Awards: Top three overall for males and females in both races.

      Running Shoes: Although not mandatory, you may consider training and bringing trail shoes for the race. The trail is run on a well-traveled dirt surface, but you will still come across loose rocks and soft beach sand. Regular running shoes are worn by the majority of participants.

      Difficulty: High altitude, challenging hilly course, trail run in a remote area.

      For more information click here

  • Registration & Booking

    • Rates: Land Prices may change due to currency fluctuations or changes in any taxes or park fees.

      Reservations and Payments: A completed tour application together with an initial non-refundable deposit of $800 per person for the Big Five Marathon package. Final payment is due before March 1, 2024.

      Cancellations: All payments, including your deposit, are non-refundable and non-transferrable.  Non-transferrable includes applying your balance to another person, another year or another trip. Should you cancel for any reason, you will forfeit your trip investment. Therefore, travel insurance for every trip is highly recommended. All cancellations must be received in writing.

      Not included in price: All items not specifically listed under tour features.

      Insurance: For your protection, trip cancellation, baggage, health and accident insurance is highly recommended for all participants.  However, no representation or description of the insurance made by our staff constitutes a binding assurance or promise about the insurance.

      Travel Insurance for U.S. Residents
      Travel Insurance for Canadian Residents

      Security Policy: Marathon Tours & Travel’s security policy requires that anyone staying in our room block must be registered as part of our package. If a registered client attempts to house a non-registered guest and /or invite them to attend any of our scheduled activities, the registered guest’s tour package will be forfeited and parties may be denied access to future tours. Please note that no exceptions will be made as this policy will be strictly enforced.

      Responsibility: These tours are operated by Marathon Tours, Inc. of Chelsea, MA who acts only as an agent for the passenger to the companies offering such services and assumes no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity caused by any reason whatsoever by any party offering such services. All terms and conditions offered are governed by the laws of Massachusetts. The right is reserved to cancel the tour prior to departure with a refund, less applicable credit card and processing fees, made as full settlement to the passenger. The right is reserved by Marathon Tours, Inc. to deny acceptance of a booking application by any person. Marathon Tours, Inc. may make any changes or alterations in the itinerary as it deems necessary for the proper handling of the tour. The sole responsibility of any airline used is limited to that set out in the passenger contract evidenced by the ticket. The airlines concerned are not to be held responsible for any act, omission or event during the time that the passengers are not on board their aircraft.

  • Testimonials

    • "Even though I was just a spectator, and not a runner..." - 2019

      Even though I was just a spectator, and not a runner, I was so glad we spectators were integrated into the week of the Big Five and made to feel we belonged.

      "This was one of the best trips of our life!" - 2019

      This was one of the best trips of our life!

      "It is still very hard to explain and/or describe the euphoria..." - 2019

      It is still very hard to explain and/or describe the euphoria feeling we had during this trip. The flawless trip combined with the closeness to the nature is very hard to describe and share with friends. It`s a once in a life time experience !

      "Unforgettable!" - 2019

      Unforgettable! Experience of a lifetime! Thank you.

      "I had never been on safari before..." - 2018

      I had never been on safari before so my expectations were through the roof. We saw so many animals and the rangers all seem to have eagle eyes, spotting animals for us. They were so great about stopping, getting the vehicle in a good position for pictures etc. and just so knowledgeable about the wild life.

      "The support leading up to the tour was stellar..." - 2018

      The support leading up to the tour was stellar. Ann Haebler seemed always available to help with something or answer a question. The venue sells itself, it is an amazing package for anyone looking to do the marathon – so many safaris included, we really did manage to see most of the animals.

      "The Big Five Marathon package offers a brilliant adventure..." - 2018

      The Big Five Marathon package offers a brilliant adventure that will challenge even the most seasoned runner but will result in a lifetime of wonderful memories.

Meet the Reps

Marcie Clawson

Trip Designer | Cycling Product Manager

Marcie Clawson

Trip Designer | Cycling Product Manager

Born and raised in Canada, Marcie discovered the magic of road cycling in grade six after earning a 10-speed bike selling oranges for her school fundraiser. Although active in soccer, basketball and rowing during her school years, she admits that physical activity took a backseat to a career in design.

While raising her kids in New England, she rekindled her love of cycling in 2016 and, as a personal challenge, added running and swimming in 2018 to compete in her first 70.3 Triathlon in Prague, CZ to celebrate her 50th birthday. Since then, she has completed two full and five half distance triathlons; and a number of gravel and CX races. Her love of travel and cycling has spurred her to ride her bike more than 24,000 miles in the last six years including multi-day adventures across Czech Republic and three different states. She has circumvented Lake Champlain and conquered mountains in Austria, Canada and the US on two wheels.

Though competitive in nature and fueled by the excitement of a new venue, Marcie found that her greatest joy in racing Triathlon came from the challenge of planning for the unexpected and getting to know people along the course, hearing their stories and motivations and finding out their “WHY”.

A self-admitted “Jack of all trades”, Marcie comes to MTT with work experiences as both a bicycle mechanic and a producer of custom cycling endurance apparel. Marcie currently manages running packages to Big Five, Petra, Iceland Volcano, Polar Circle, Midnight Marathon, Lost City, First Light, Queenstown, Great Wall, and our very own Patagonia Running Festival. She is excited be a part of your journey and to help you to achieve your “WHY”.