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Local second in tough KAEM

The heat, long distance and difficult terrain made it the toughest ultra-distance event he had competed in, and also it was more challenging this year than the previous time he participated.

This was the response from local Upington runner Russell Nugent who had participated for the second time in the gruelling Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM).

Russell made Upington proud by finishing second overall.

According to Genevieve Maasdorp, Regional Communications Manager: Arid Region South African National Parks (Sanparks) the KAEM is an adventurous foot race held annually in October in the breath-taking landscape of South Africa’s Green Kalahari.

Founded in 2000, KAEM is the second oldest 250 km multistage event over seven days on the planet. With KAEM 2019 they celebrated their 20th year.

This extreme sports event is a self-sufficient race over 7 days, covering an approximate total distance of 250 km. Known as the ‘Big Daddy’ in the South African running fraternity, KAEM is one of the most respected extreme marathons on the International Trail Running calendar.

KAEM takes place in the Kalahari Desert in the proximity of the Augrabies Falls in the Orange River. The route traverses the Augrabies Falls National Park, Daberas as well as private farmlands.

This unique and contrasting environment with average day temperatures reaching in excess of 40 degrees C and dropping to below 5 degrees C at night presents a daunting challenge to extreme athletes and determined adventurers.

The 250 km is divided into six stages, ranging from 25 km to 48 km each day with a long day covering approximately 75 km.

Daily distances are published approximately ten weeks before the event and route details are given to participants on registration day. This eliminates unfair advantage in planning.

The route is clearly marked with check­points at every 8 km or 10 km mark, leaving little chance for participants to get lost. Crew members also monitor the whereabouts and condition of athletes. Should anyone get lost or in trouble, help will always be there.

Participants carry all their supplies, clothes and compulsory safety and survival equipment.

Overnight shelter in camps and water, which is strictly controlled and distributed during the race, is supplied. Professional medical backup as well as sports physios are available.

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