Two Oceans (A Love Letter To My Favourite Ultra)

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[MARATHON #183 / 16th Two OCeans / 31 MARCH 2018]

South Africa hosts the two biggest (and greatest) ultra marathons in the world: Two Oceans and Comrades. I’ve been asked many times about the difference between the two. My philosophical view is that if you are a teenager in love, Two Oceans is the sweet, charming, beautiful girl that you should marry. Comrades is the girl that’s way out of your league but is malevolent enough to string you along, thinking you have a chance – only to break your heart (and your body) after crushing your spirit and ripping out your soul.

It’s got to be a special race when you’re this happy at 38km (and still have 18km – and Constantia Nek – to go).

The Romance

Growing up in Cape Town, Two Oceans was my “girl next door” – and it was as a teenager that I fell in love with her. I had just started high school at Rondebosch Boys and they asked for volunteers to hold up kilometre boards over the first 15km and man (or in my case “boy”) the last support table on the route. This seemed like a really good idea since I could support my Dad (The Old Running Mann) and we were told we could drink as much Coca-Cola as we liked on the day. In future years Rustenburg Girls School were invited to partner us at the table (which made the proposition even more attractive!). Continue reading “Two Oceans (A Love Letter To My Favourite Ultra)”

Umgeni Water Marathon (One Dam Marathon After Another)

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[MARATHON #182 / Unique Marathon #98 / 25 MARCH 2018]

After Om Die Dam the previous week and Kosmos (around Lake Umuzi) the week before that, I headed down to Midmar Dam for the Umgeni Water Marathon – in what was quite literally a case of just one dam marathon after another!

Another dam fine marathon I got myself into (& around)!

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Om Die Dam: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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[MARATHON #181 / 10th Om Die Dam / 17 MARCH 2018]

Running Om Die Dam is a bit like having kids:

  • Some people have one kid and decide that’s enough;
  • Quite a few people have one kid, take a few years to recuperate before having another (and maybe squeeze out one more after that) – but then they’re done for good, knowing with certainty that that’s enough;
  • Some people stick to “recreational running”, deciding never to have kids after seeing the haggard and traumatised faces of friends with kids and hearing their tired tales of endurance;
  • But then there are those crazy people who just keep popping out kids year after year. I am one of those crazy people – having just popped out my 10th Om Die Dam.
Proud recipient of permanent #1295 after popping out my 10th Om Die Dam.

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Kosmos 3-in-1 (Where A Marathon Is The Soft Option)

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[MARATHON #180 / UNIQUE MARATHON #97 / 10 MARCH 2018]

The Kosmos Marathon in Secunda is an easy 90-minute drive from Johannesburg – this is below the “stayover for the night vs. drive on the morning” threshold so I was up just after 3am to get to the 6am start. After eight consecutive Friday nights away from home to run different marathons around the country, I enjoyed the novelty and comfort of sleeping in my own bed before a race – although my daughters were not impressed that their weekly camp out with mom was cancelled!

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Uniwisp Fast 50 (The Fastest Ultra in Africa)

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[MARATHON #179 / UNIQUE MARATHON #96 / 3 March 2018]

The runners in Mbombela like to go down. They have one marathon (Kaapsehoop) and one ultra – and both are certified quadkillers – plummeting you from the highest points in the Lowveld down to Mbombela (in the lowerveld).

How low can you go? You have the choice of doing the Uniwisp Fast 10, 21.1, 42.2 or 50km. Having just done the 50km option (what else!), I can certify that this is the fastest ultra in country and makes Loskop look like Longtom.

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Maritzburg City Marathon (A Return To The Mainstream)

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[MARATHON #178 / UNIQUE MARATHON #95 /  25 FEBRUARY 2018]

As a marathon running connoisseur, I consider small town marathons to be the craft beer of the running world – they’re harder to locate, are a bit more expensive to consume and should always be savoured rather than sprinted. Having consumed five fantastic craft marathons already in 2018, it was with some trepidation that I approached a return to the mainstream for the Witness Maritzburg City Marathon, the biggest standard marathon in Kwazulu Natal.

It’s nice to stand in front of the Pietermaritzburg City Hall with just 15km left to run during the Maritzburg City Marathon. Will be standing here again on 10 June (along with 20,000 other Comrades) with a slightly more daunting 90.1km to go.

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Assegaai Marathon (Can You Judge A Marathon By The Shirt?)

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[MARATHON #177 / UNIQUE MARATHON #94 /  17 FEBRUARY 2018]

I am trying to run a different marathon every weekend to reach my goal of 100 unique marathons before Comrades (it is not wise to plan anything post Comrades). As a marathon slut (I like to run around and will get my legs onto whatever I can), I’ve found some great marathons all around South Africa (and the world) on this quest. Occasionally I get the opportunity to tick off one of my “bucket list” races – and on the second weekend in February it was time for the Assegaai Marathon to come out of the bucket and into my legs.

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Potties Marathon Photies (A Pictorial Report from the South African Bushveld)

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[MARATHON #176 / UNIQUE MARATHON #93 /  10 FEBRUARY 2018]

Running with a buddy is fun and saves costs when travelling. I’ve been running a marathon a weekend and my travelling running buddy, Julian Karp, has been doing two a weekend – but it was only on week four of the South African marathon calendar that our plans aligned for the Potties Marathon.

We caught up on marathon adventures on the drive to Mokopane (formerly Potgietersrus). Although the town name was officially changed in 2003, there are no plans to change the race name to Mokkies in the near future. Continue reading “Potties Marathon Photies (A Pictorial Report from the South African Bushveld)”

Bay Ultra (See the Lighthouse at the End of an Ultra)

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[MARATHON #175 / UNIQUE MARATHON #92 /  3 February 2018]

The 2018 running year has started really well with two fantastic marathons (Finlime and Volksrust). The first weekend of February seemed like the logical time to escalate to an ultra. This required a flight to the east coast for Port Elizabeth’s Bay Ultra Marathon – 50km around Algoa Bay.

Where’s the beach?

I was surprised that most of the budget airlines don’t fly into Port Elizabeth – and those that do don’t offer good “in-and-out for a marathon” flight times. Therefore, I had to settle for a premium priced airline offering budget rate service. Nothing signifies the decline of the British Empire quite like the experience of flying British Airways. Continue reading “Bay Ultra (See the Lighthouse at the End of an Ultra)”

Volksrust Marathon (High Spirits in the Highlands)

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[MARATHON #174 / UNIQUE MARATHON #91 / 27 January 2018]

The first marathon you run after Comrades always seems really easy (“just a marathon” / “almost short distance”). Similarly, after enduring a 7-hour drive into the sweltering Kalahari for the Finlime Marathon last week, getting to Volksrust – an easy 3-hour drive from Johannesburg – was an absolute doddle.

The local farmers man most of the water tables and bring out their finest tractors to show off to the runners!

Volksrust was founded in 1889 – “Volk” means nation and “Rust” means rest. There is no truth in the rumour that the town was founded by a disgruntled car owner and was originally called Volkswagensrust.

Continue reading “Volksrust Marathon (High Spirits in the Highlands)”