Nairobi is the capital and largest city in Kenya, a country known for producing some of the best competitive distance runners in the world. Located along the Nairobi River in the south-central part of Kenya, this homeland of the Maasai people became prominent during British East Africa occupation, then gained independence in 1963. Today, it’s a hub for Kenyan culture, business, and of course, running. Nairobi is one of those cities where it’s best to know a spot for running, rather than assuming it’s runnable from the place you’re staying. Runners should take into account Nairobi’s elevation of nearly 1800m (5,800 feet). If you’d like to have an in-person guided running experience in Nairobi, we highly recommend our friends at Go! Running Tours.
Some of the best running in Nairobi can be found right in the center of the city, at the Nairobi Arboretum and around Uhuru and Central Parks. Many runners also enjoy the safe dirt roads and trails throughout the Karura Forest. There are fun trail challenges in the Ngong Hills Nature Reserve, Ngong Forest Sanctuary, and the Oloolua Nature Trail, but there are also plenty of street running options in neighborhoods like Runda, Karen, and Langata.
A couple of notes about Nairobi: Many visitors find Nairobi a hectic and challenging city to get around. Most locals use matatus, a sort of shared taxi, to travel about. The bus and train system, while it has extensive coverage, is sometimes criticized as unreliable. Most visitors will find taxis to be the best option to travel from run to run. Also, locals we talked to mentioned that runners should avoid the parks at night. Finally, make note of Nairobi’s mile-high altitude!