Route: Mt Kenya (Kenya)

Location
Kenya
Distance
49 km
Vertical Gain
2590 m
Description

Mount Kenya (5199m) is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro.  A Fila-sponsored ISF (Skyrunning) race was held on the mountain in 1995.

Note that so far reported FKTs go to Point Lenana at 4985m, which is the common “trekking” summit. The true high point is Batian, 5199m, but it is difficult technical climbing to reach the summit.

GPS Track

Comments

In the coming months, a group of Kenyan athletes - Joan Cherop, Kenneth Kemboi, Sussy Chebet, and Alfred Moindi - will attempt to set the men's and women's FKTs for Sirimon, Chogoria, and Naro Moru routes, both ascent and out & back times. 

Their effort is supported by 4 brands: Enda, Janji, COROS, and UltrAspire. We'll ensure there is through documentation and gps logs of their runs. 

Yes please keep us posted on the date and time, and of course submit their verification asap 

They've just made their run on Sirimon route, and we're going to compile submission and put it in on Monday. However, before doing that, we'd want to raise a flag about the claim on the existing record on this route. 

The Skyrunning claim on the route is a 42km course with 2440m climbing. Updated link to their record list is here: https://www.skyrunning.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Best-Performance-…

However, the full Sirimon course from the gate to summit and back is 48.5 KM with 2590 meters climbing. It seems as though the Skyrunning record is not the full route. Either it started form a higher point on the mountain, the runners didn't go all the way to the peak, or they ran a course that is not the Sirimon gate to summit route. The GPS track on this very website doesn't match the claimed distance and elevation change noted by SkyRunning. 

Here's are what the athletes ran on Friday 20 Nov, 2020. You can see it matches the GPS track above, which is the correct full course, and is significantly longer with more climbing than the skyrunning event.

Kenneth Kemboi https://www.strava.com/activities/4367343545/overview
Susy Chemaimak https://www.strava.com/activities/4367340979/overview

I sent an email to the Skyrunning people, will let you know if I hear back.  Every report from the race explicitly states from the gate to the top.  Note that GPS was not widely used in 1995, and it is likely that the distance was more or less a guess.  It is also quite possible that the route has been changed since 1995.  The race was attended by the best mountain runners in the world, going head-to-head.  Fabio and Matt Carpenter reached the top at about the same time (3h29m).  Matt tweaked his ankle on the way down and came in 7th at 5h30m. http://skyrunner.com/bio.htm (Note that Matt's brief report on the race puts the gate at 7349 feet / 2240m, which would make the total climb 2745m.)

Thanks for checking up on it. Whatever course they ran, it's impressive and quite possible. The significant discrepancy on distance concerned us. 

Worth also noting: Sirimon Gate is at 2650m. Though that could also be a measurement error based on the tools available at the time.

On the route changes since then: our team discussed this with a KWS ranger who has been at Mt Kenya since the 1980's and his response was the only two changes to note are 1) that the road from the gate to Old Moses significantly eroded between 2000 - 2010 and has since been partially paved 2) there used to be a series of ropes at the summit to help with the final 1km. Otherwise the route and trail condition remains consistent. 

 

Great - I'm glad you were able to speak with someone with authority and local knowledge.  It seems very probable then that the Skymarathon was on basically the same course as today, and the distance was estimated short, and the total altitude gain also poorly reported at the time.  What is clear is that the race organization and at least one participant (Matt Carpenter) reported that the start/finish was at the gate.

The journalist working on the Outside Magazine about this FKT attempt got the following back from the Sky Running team:

"I confirm the distance was 42 km as you can see from the attached documents. Our “SkyMarathon” was the classic marathon distance but at altitude. I attach scans of some original documents. To cover the distance, 42 km, the race started at Sirimon Gate, summited Mt Lenana and descended to stop after 42 km distance at Judmeier Camp. The overall winner’s speed was 8.316 km/h. With respect to the FKT you sent, their speed was 7.48 km/h, so Meraldi was faster. (NB American Matt Carpenter and Kenyan James Mukundi were first and second at the summit, see attached)."

Here is the referenced attachment:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hOgtsB_MVd3U_tK2Czmom3YgrVrDDPc5/view?…

This would indicate two things:

  1. The Sirimon Gate to Lenana FKT should be Matt Carpenter
  2. The race did not do the full out and back course, so the Sirimon to summit and return FKT listed here for Fabio Meraldi is not accurate.