[MARATHON #258 / UNIQUE MARATHON #154 / 27 January 2024]
I have visited Middelburg several times to run the Loskop Ultra Marathon but have spent very little time in the town itself as the Loskop route directs you directly out of town and towards the Loskop Dam. Therefore, I was looking forward to getting better acquainted with the Mpumalanga town during the MMC Marathon (the only January marathon I did not yet have on my running CV).
Middelburg got its name as the halfway mark between Pretoria (then the capital of the Traansvaal Republic) and the gold-mining town of Lydenburg in 1872. It’s an easy 2-hour highway drive to get to Middelburg from Johannesburg which is on the cusp of a very early wake up drive on race morning distance. However, you can get some bad morning fog so I decided on the overnight option. Unfortunately, my easy Friday afternoon drive was made a little more hair-raising after getting caught in a hailstorm that left my car with more dents than a naked paintballer.
[MARATHON #256 / UNIQUE MARATHON #153 / 27 December 2023]
One would have to be a complete sadist to organise a marathon in Limpopo at the end of December – on the other hand, one would have to be a complete idiot to run it. It just takes one sadist to organise a marathon in Limpopo’s northern extremities in December but there were 76 idiots who ran it. Naturally I was one of them.
[MARATHON #255 / UNIQUE MARATHON #152 / 2 December 2023]
Irene van Eeden from Eastern Province Athletics heard that Julian and I would be coming through for the 1City marathon and asked what marathon number we’d be running, promising to give us the corresponding numbers. There was a slight hitch though because the printed race number sequence issued for the race did not include either of our marathon counts (927 for Julian and 255 for me). However, Irene made a plan with some handy “cut and paste” decoupage skills to ensure that we both ran with a memorable personal touch.
It’s always nice to get invited to a well-planned Christmas party. My invite came all the way back in July in the following format, “My name is Catherine Dixon and I do the communications, PR and social media for Westville Athletic Club. We host our annual race in December each year that is a bit of an icon on the KZNA calendar. I see that you are open to trying different races and I was wondering if A) you would be interested in running our event in December (Sunday December 10th) and B) What would be required from your end to run/blog about our event.”
I was still an injured runner in July but figured I could commit to a 15km in December. I therefore replied that if Westville were happy to cover my travel costs, I’d love to run their race. The helpers’ run is on Saturday so Catherine suggested that to get the full Westville Christmas experience, I arrive on Friday and participate in both the helpers and official run. I am all for maximising the experience so that is exactly what I did.
[MARATHON #254 / UNIQUE MARATHON #151 / 12 November 2023]
I ran my first marathon in 2002 and ended the year with 7 marathons completed (4 standards and 3 ultras). Until now, Covid years excluded, that was my worst year of running. Unfortunately, I will definitely slump to a new low score in 2023 but there was one silver lining – the lack of marathon travel meant that I still had one 75% Vitality discount return flight that needed to be used before the year was done. This justified an otherwise unaffordable flight to Mthatha for the Cheetahs Marathon by knocking R4,000 off the airfare.
The alternate way to get to Mthatha from Joburg at a reasonable cost is to fly to East London, hire a car and do the three-hour drive along the N2. This was the routing Julian Karp had chosen (after running the Jacaranda Marathon on Saturday morning) so I collected his race number for him. Cheetahs would be Julian’s 923rd marathon and 8th in 4 weekends. Based on his diet of ‘two marathons a weekend’, I noted that it was highly appropriate that Julian has been allocated race number 4242.
Whenever I am asked “What do you want for Christmas?” I usually respond with, “I don’t know”. This year I thought I’d make it easier for my wife and mom by putting this comprehensive guide together based on social media responses to the question, “Christmas presents for runners: What are your wishlist items and fantastic finds?”
You can use this list to shop for the runner in your life and / or give it to your present-buying friends and relatives to ensure you get the running boost you need for 2024.
[MARATHON #253 / UNIQUE MARATHON #150 / 28 OCTOBER 2023]
Although it was mid-term school break, I could not sell a weekend away in Potchefstroom to my teenage daughters. Therefore, I did the short trip along the N12 from Joburg solo. Two hours later I was in the North West province and checked into my accommodation for the night – an establishment called Beesdam. I had chosen it for proximity to the start which would allow me a slightly longer sleep the following morning. Potchefstroom is a university town and my room was adjacent to the main campus entrance. When booking, I noted that one of the rooms offered a “studding” desk – things have certainly changed since I was a student.
Upon arrival I settled into a beer and a few Friday afternoon emails whilst watching the Proteas cruising to victory against Pakistan and gloatingly posted to our family WhatsApp group about “enjoying the bachelor life”. I made the 500m stroll down the road to registration, which was friendly and efficient, hoping that Markram and Miller would wait for my return before knocking off the winning runs.