Diamond Marathon (Roughing it amongst the diamonds)

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[MARATHON #240 / Unique Marathon #140 / 7 March 2020]

The chance to run a golden jubilee marathon happens once every 50 years. The chance to run the golden jubilee of the Diamond Marathon is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Therefore, when it came to planning my 2020 race schedule, the first race that went down in ink was the Northern Cape’s oldest marathon.

Congratulations to Kimberley Harriers Running Club on your golden jubilee (and thanks for the wonderful hospitality). (Photo from Kimberley Harriers’ Facebook page)

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Hemel & Aarde Marathon (Leap year running)

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[MARATHON #239 / Unique Marathon #139 / 29 February 2020]

For the last few years, my daughters’ mid-term break had provided the opportunity for the family to have a short holiday (and for dad to run a new marathon). This year it was down to the Fairest Cape for the inaugural Hemel and Aarde Marathon, run between Caledon and Hermanus.

For those unfamiliar with Afrikaans, ‘Hemel’ means Heaven and ‘Aarde’ means Earth. Despite what Belinda Carlisle sang in the 80s, Heaven is not a place on Earth, but the Hemel and Aarde is a marathon in the Western Cape.

Heaven might not be a place on earth but Hemel and Aarde is a marathon (and a valley) in the Western Cape.

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Bielie Mielie Marathon (Valentine’s Day in the Free State)

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[MARATHON #238 / Unique Marathon #138 / 15 February 2020]

This year I spent Valentine’s Day in Frankfort. By choice I might add. That is a scenario that needs some explanation so here is the backstory…

I’ve been told that the most romantic thing you can do in the Free State is take your lover to an agricultural festival. As agricultural festivals go, they don’t get much bigger than the VKB Bielie Mielie Festival in Reitz and, as luck would have it for Free State romantics, this year the festival fell over Valentine’s weekend. Continue reading “Bielie Mielie Marathon (Valentine’s Day in the Free State)”

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Hillcrest Marathon (Code Brown on the Comrades route)

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[MARATHON #237 / Unique Marathon #137 / 9 February 2020]

I was viewing the Hillcrest Marathon as something of a grudge purpose. Big field, big city, double-lap routes are my least favourite marathon type. Once a year is more than enough to ingratiate my legs on the Comrades route – and my muscle memory still hadn’t forgotten their last visit in June. Needless to say, my legs were happy to wait another few months before setting foot in Hillcrest again. What is more, during the Red Hill Marathon in Cape Town, barefoot runner Peter Taylor told me that Hillcrest has the roughest roads on the Comrades route. Continue reading “Hillcrest Marathon (Code Brown on the Comrades route)”

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Julian Draai turns heads at the Hillcrest Marathon

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If you’ve run the Hillcrest Marathon over the last decade, no doubt you would have seen the curious site of a distinguished gentleman sitting down to a fully-laden romantic breakfast for one. He paints a refined picture as one heads back into Hillcrest at the end of the first lap, leisurely working his way through an elaborate banquet whilst watching the runners steadily traipse past.

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The Running Mann’s Guide to April/May Marathons & Ultras

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This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s April and May marathons including race descriptions, recommendations and travel information.

April is ultra month, with seven ultras dominating pairing nicely with the seven standard marathons on offer. There are just six road ultras in the world with over 1,000 finishers – five are run in South Africa and three of them are held in April (my own personal favourite ultra is the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon over the Easter weekend).

It’s also the busiest May I’ve ever seen with five options including the new Midvaal Marathon and the reintroduction of the False Bay 50. The Cross Province Marathon is the only new race in April. Continue reading “The Running Mann’s Guide to April/May Marathons & Ultras”

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Red Hill Marathon (Fish Hoek, line & sinker)

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[MARATHON #236 / Unique Marathon #136 / 25 January 2020]

After running like an idiot for most of the year, I took things easy with ‘sensible running’ over the festive season. Despite running 34 marathons in 2019, I ended the year four kilograms heavier than I was at the end of 2018. In an effort to curb additional gains to the midriff, I decided to switch to Lite beer but I should have heeded the, “If It ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra. Lite beer and sensible running are a lethal combination to the serious marathon runner and resulted in my first injury in over six years.

Following the extended bout of end-of-year marathon abstinence, I look forward to mid-January when I finally get a chance to butter my Mielie again in Welkom at the first marathon of the year. Unfortunately, the injury meant I had to wait all the way until the end of January before consummating my running year. I did however, save my legs for someone special – the Red Hill Marathon in the south of Cape Town. Continue reading “Red Hill Marathon (Fish Hoek, line & sinker)”

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Magoeba Plunge Marathon (the Limpopo rollercoaster)

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[MARATHON #233 / Unique Marathon #133 / 23 November 2019]

Part I: Tracey Trolls the Internet

You couldn’t miss the Magoeba Plunge Marathon, there was a constant barrage on social media publicizing the event. This was Tracey van den Dool’s baby and she was a proud expectant mother. I am not sure where she found the time, but it seemed like every free moment was spent thinking of innovative ways to promote the event in the lead-up.

Tracey trolled the internet and every time someone asked a question about “recommended marathons” there was an almost immediate response from one Tracey van den Dool saying, “Come to Tzaneen and check out the Magoeba Plunge”. She also had plenty of engagement with her potential customers, for example when someone said, “Will there be watermelon?”, watermelon was added to the shopping list.

When someone asked, ‘Will there be watermelon?’, watermelon was added to the shopping list. You won’t find fresher watermelon anywhere else.

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Great Lake Marathon (Top secret marathon running)

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[MARATHON #232 / Unique Marathon #132 / 16 November 2019]

Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario are collectively known as The Great Lakes of North America. In the United Kingdom, the county of Cumbria boasts the world-famous Lake District and National Park. In Africa, Lake Victoria’s secret wetland has long since been exposed. However, very few people know that South Africa has its own secret ‘Lake District’ tucked away in rural Mpumalanga.

You would think that the site of 270 lakes and pans (one of which is South Africa’s largest freshwater lake) and the home to almost 300 species of birds (and the annual breeding ground for 20,000 flamingos) would be a well-known tourist destination. Yet even Getaway magazine failed to include this pristine piece of Mpumalanga countryside in their article on “8 wonderful wetlands in South Africa”. Continue reading “Great Lake Marathon (Top secret marathon running)”

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Bela-Bela Marathon (Boiling point in Limpopo)

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[MARATHON #231 / My 2nd Bela-Bela Marathon / 9 November 2019]

Global warming is starting to make its impression on town names: Warmbad, Afrikaans for “Hot Bath”, recently changed its name (and from liquid to gas) to Bela-Bela, which means Boiling-Boiling in Tswana.

South African runners are generally pretty resilient to heat but I remember passing the discarded bodies of melted runners lying at the side of the road when I previously ran the Bela-Bela Marathon in 2010. Burn out was recently recognised as an official syndrome by the World Health Organisation – and I expect there is an epidemic in Bela-Bela.

Bela-Bela is in the Waterberg region of Limpopo and rudimentary science tells you that combining heat and water results in heaps of humidity. The town is basically one big Bikram Yoga studio during the summer months. Continue reading “Bela-Bela Marathon (Boiling point in Limpopo)”

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