The Running Mann’s Guide to January Marathons

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This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s January marathons including race descriptions and recommendations.

South African marathons go on hiatus from the beginning of December until the middle of January. As a marathon running obsessive, I normally get withdrawal symptoms during the break (symptoms include a lethargy in the legs and a noticeable swelling in the belly) so I try to get my first marathon of the year done at the earliest opportunity. The good news is that there are seven great options to choose from in January.

Summary

A summary of your choices is below:

Event Date Distance Options Where 2018
Finishers
Entry
Fee
Late
Entries
Finlime Flat One 19-Jan 42\21\10 Lime Acres, NC 22 R160 Yes
AEL Mielie 19-Jan 42\21\10\5\2\1 Welkom, FS 222 R130 Yes
Wonderpark Akasia 26-Jan 42\21\10\5 Pretoria, Gau 1667 R120 Yes
Volksrust 5-in-1 26-Jan 42\32\21\10\5 Volksrust, Mpu 120 R200 Yes
STBB Red Hill 26-Jan 42\36\5 Cape Town, WC 1037 R140 Yes
Ottosdal Nite 26-Jan 42/21/10/5 Ottosdal, NW 382 R120 Yes
Johnson Crane 27-Jan 42\21\10\5 Benoni, Gau 3922 R265 No

Note to the reader: I am aiming to publish a monthly article detailing all the marathons and ultras on the South African running calendar which can be used a definitive resource for the discerning marathon runner in picking their qualifiers and planning running holidays. Let me know if you have anything to add!

Recommended Runs

For a fast time (those chasing a seeding): Mielie Marathon, Welkom (with Wonderpark Akasia and Johnson Crane being good runners-up)

For a good time (marathons packed with personality): Volksrust Marathon

For a special time (hard to get to races that all ‘real’ runners should do at least once): Finlime Marathon, Lime Acres (in the middle of the Kalahari Desert)

For the first time: Johnson Crane. This Johnson has probably claimed more marathon running virgins than any other race in the country (and was my first bite of the marathon running cherry back in 2002). January’s biggest race will treat you well and still respect you in the morning.

Note: The following marathons were not considered for recommendations as I have not run them (yet): Redhill; Ottosdal.

What I’ll be running this year: My second Mielie and first Ottosdal Marathon.

Detailed Information

All race information, links, flyers and travel guidance* verified with race organisers (unless otherwise noted).

* For practical reasons, all directions are from central Johannesburg as (1) the majority of runners are Gauteng based, (2) I live in Johannesburg and (3) whilst all roads might lead to Rome, all roads in South Africa lead away from Johannesburg!

Finlime ‘Flat One’ Marathon

Photo credit: SLAP Photography.
Race Date Saturday 19 January 2019
Start Venue Lime Acres Recreational Club, Central Avenue, Lime Acres
Route Type Circular
Website None
Contact Details Loyd.Makie@ppc.co.za
Distance Options 42\21\10
Online Entries None
Title Sponsor Your Company Name Could Be Here!
Perm, Numbers? No
Entry Fee R160
Extras?
Late Entries? Yes
# of 2018 Finishers 22
Race Description If you fancy running a marathon in the middle of the Kalahari Desert then make a plan to include the smallest Comrades qualifier in the country (just 22 finishers) into your running schedule. The route is fairly flat and the spectacular desert landscape is only broken by the odd diamond and lime mine.
Why Run It? This is a truly unique marathon running experience and one I would recommend all South African runners make the effort to do at least once.
How To Get There? 600km (6-7hr drive) from Joburg or fly to Kimberley and shorten the drive to 1h45.
Accommodation Options Check out Google for B&B options
What Else To Do There? Bring a book and suntan lotion; You could use the marathon as a stopover on a road trip to the spectacular Augrabies Falls and/or Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Race Flyer Finlime Flyer – 2019

Detailed race report: Finlime Marathon (The Time I Ran a Marathon in Middle of the Kalahari Desert)

AEL Mielie Marathon

Local legend Louis Massyn who has buttered up 37 Mielie Marathon finishes and will be going for this 38th in 2019. (Photo supplied by #403)
Race Date Saturday 19 January 2019
Start Venue HTS Sports Grounds, Volks Road, Welkom
Route Type Circular
Website http://www.goudveldmultisport.co.za/event/mielie-marathon-2019/
Contact Details goudveldmultisport@yahoo.com
Distance Options 42\21\10\5\2\1
Online Entries None
Title Sponsor AEL Mining Services
Perm, Numbers? Yes (10th finish)
Entry Fee R 130
Extras? A 1kg bag of mielie meal.
Late Entries? Yes
# of 2018 Finishers 222
Race Description A single-lap marathon around the Free State’s second largest city. The route is flat and the support tables are friendly. This will be the 41st running of the event (as such it is the oldest marathon in the States) and is my pick for a fast January qualifier.
Why Run It? A fast, uncongested single-lap race that offers a permanent number to her regular customers. Get some Comrades tips from local legend Louis Massyn (46 Comrades finishes) along the route.
How To Get There? 250km (2h30) drive from Joburg down the N1.
Accommodation Options Check out Google for B&B options
What Else To Do There? If anyone knows of anything worthwhile doing in Welkom (other than running a marathon) please let me know.
Race Flyer

Wonderpark Akasia Marathon

Photo from Morningside Runners’ Facebook page.
Race Date Saturday 26 January 2019
Start Venue Wonderpark Shopping Mall, Karenpark, Pretoria
Route Type Double-lapper
Website http://www.akasiaathleticsclub.co.za/mainrace.html
Contact Details altje.conradie@absamail.co.za
Distance Options 42\21\10\5
Online Entries https://www.entryrush.co.za/event/wonderpark-akasia-road-race
Title Sponsor Wonderpark Shopping Centre
Perm, Numbers? No
Entry Fee R 120
Extras?
Late Entries? Yes
# of 2018 Finishers 1667
Race Description A flat double-lapper around the north of Pretoria and proof that a small running club (Akasia with just 65 members) can put on an excellent event. Not much of interest along the route but this a good option for Gauteng runners to get the first marathon of the year done. Although there is plenty of parking at the Wonderpark Shopping Centre, there are about 6,000 runners across all distances, so allow time for the congestion.
Why Run It? At R120 I make this is the cheapest marathon in Gauteng. A good option for an early qualifier especially if you prefer getting your marathon over on a Saturday and/or miss out on Johnson Crane entries before they sell out.
How To Get There? 80km (1h) drive but allow extra time for congestion.
Accommodation Options Plenty of options in Pretoria.
What Else To Do There? Put your body to the test by doing a comprehensive shopping expedition in the mall directly afterwards (personally I find one hour in the mall more tiring and harder on the body than running a marathon).
Race Flyer Akasia Road Race flyer

Volksrust Marathon

Note: No response received yet from race organisers.

Race Date Saturday 26 January 2019
Start Venue Volksrust Highschool
Route Type Out-and-back
Website http://volksrust.com/marathon/index-1.html
Contact Details wastrydom@telkomsa.net; reiner@stucky.co.za
Distance Options 42\32\21\10\5
Online Entries https://www.quicket.co.za/events/63993-volksrust-marathon-2019#/
Title Sponsor Your Company Name Could Be Here!
Perm, Numbers? No
Entry Fee R 200
Extras?
Late Entries? Yes
# of 2018 Finishers 120
Race Description An up and down, out and back route with some of the best support tables in the country. A bit of dirt road running is thrown into the end of the loop for those that like to get off the tar for a bit. Make sure you leave room in your tog bag for the medal – it is by far the biggest in the country!
Why Run It? Enjoy complimentary coffee and rusks at the start and experience some of the best support tables in the country. Volksrust is an easy 3-hour drive from Joburg so it will probably take you less time to get to the start than it will to the Johnson Crane Marathon in Benoni.
How To Get There? 240km (2h45) drive.
Accommodation Options Plenty of good B&Bs – you should be able to find one within walking distance of the start.
What Else To Do There? Use as a base to explore the Battlefields Route.
Race Flyer Awaiting from organisers

Detailed race report: Volksrust Marathon (High Spirits in the Highlands)

STBB Redhill Marathon

Photo from race website.

Note: No response received yet from race organisers.

Race Date Saturday 26 January 2019
Start Venue Fish Hoek Athletic Club, Nelson Road, Silverglades, Fish Hoek
Route Type Circular
Website http://www.redhillmarathon.co.za/
Contact Details redhill@fishhoekac.com
Distance Options 42\36\5
Online Entries https://www.racetraq.co.za/product/red-hill-marathon-and-classic-2019/
Title Sponsor STBB Legal
Perm, Numbers? Yes (10th finish)
Entry Fee R 140
Extras?
Late Entries? Yes
# of 2018 Finishers 1037
Race Description Abridged description from race site, “Runners will line up facing away from Peer’s Cave…   The route then takes the runners through Kommetjie, Misty Cliffs, Scarborough, and at the Perdekloof Picnic site, the Marathon runners will veer off towards Cape Point for a 6km loop…[after which you] continue over Red Hill. The runners join up with the Simonstown Main Road at the end of Red Hill, and continue towards Fish Hoek.”
Why Run It? Find out what happens if you kept running straight at Two Oceans instead of turning right towards Sun Valley. Looks like a stunner that explores the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula and one I will be working in to my 2020 running plans. Be aware that Fish Hoek is a dry suburb so you may have to smuggle your own beer to the finish line.
How To Get There? Fly to Cape Town; 45km drive from the airport to Fish Hoek
Accommodation Options Plenty of good options close to the start.
What Else To Do There? Enjoy the beach unless it’s windy (then head for the wine farms).
Race Flyer Flyer

Ottosdal ‘Draf & Trap’ Nite Marathon

Photo from www.cnandco.com
Race Date Saturday 26 January 2019
Start Venue Ottosdal Show Grounds, Koster Street
Route Type Out-and-back
Website https://ottosdaldrafentrap.co.za/
Contact Details willa@ottosdaldrafentrap.co.za
Distance Options 42/21/10/5
Online Entries https://ottosdaldrafentrap.co.za/register
Title Sponsor Your Company Name Could Be Here!
Perm, Numbers? No
Entry Fee R 120
Extras? Shirt
Late Entries? Yes
# of 2018 Finishers 382
Race Description With a 5:30pm start, this is the only night marathon in South Africa. An out-and-back route where lanterns line the road to guide you home after the sun sets.

This race is also the meat in the marathon running weekend sandwich that allows hardcore runners to run three marathons in just over 24 hours (with Wonderpark Akasia and Johnson Crane providing the bread).

Why Run It? Enjoy the novelty of running a marathon in the evening. Stick around at prize giving and you might be the lucky winner of a diamond.
How To Get There? 240km (3h) drive west passed Potch and Klerksdorp.
Accommodation Options https://ottosdaldrafentrap.co.za/accomodation
What Else To Do There? Ottosdal is an historic boer town. There is a full weekend of activities including mountain and road biking options for bi-pedalling bi-cyclists. Stick around afterwards to see if you are the lucky draw winner of a diamond and enjoy a ‘plaaspontbyt’ (farm breakfast) the following morning.
Race Flyer

Ottosdal Marathon INSKRYWINGSVORM 2019

OttosdalVOORLOPIGE-PROGRAM-26-JANUARIE-2019

Johnson Crane Marathon

Photo supplied.
Race Date Sunday 27 January 2019
Start Venue Willowmoore Cricket Ground, Harper Road, Benoni
Route Type Double-lapper
Website http://johnsoncranemarathon.co.za/
Contact Details info@johnsoncranemarathon.co.za
Distance Options 42\21\10\5
Online Entries https://secure.onreg.com/onreg2/front/step1.php?id=4286
Title Sponsor Johnson Crane Hire
Perm, Numbers? Yes (10th finish)
Entry Fee R 265
Extras? Shirt & Goodie Bag
Late Entries? No
# of 2018 Finishers 3922
Race Description This race lives up to the expectations that Benoni is the flattest, highest and most boring part of the highveld: The two mostly flat laps are run between an altitude of 1618m and 1664m through the city streets, suburbia and out into the countryside passed smallholdings. Watch out for the nasty ‘slow poison’ pull from 18 to 20km which you get to repeat at the end of your marathon. Powerade is available for marathon runners on the second lap and all participants receive an ice-cream in addition to their medal at the finish line. Although this is not the most interesting route (there has not been much interesting to look at in Benoni since 1994 when Charlize Theron left for Hollywood), this race holds a special place in my heart since it was my debut marathon back in 2002 (when it was still a single-lap race). I enjoyed it enough to run 10 but have not run it since 2015 (after earning my permanent number and parole).
Why Run It? With 14,000 participants across all distances, this is one of the biggest running events in the country and is by far the largest in January. It is normally very well organised with plenty for the family to do at the finish line. If you are short of clothes and cash after the December holidays, the race always has a quality shirt and goodie bag for participants.
How To Get There? 30 minute drive along the N12. However traffic is very congested so you need to allow at least 90 minutes.
Accommodation Options Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre, The Flamingo Nest , Kaponong Hotel On Benoni Road, Hotels around OR Tambo
What Else To Do There? Watch the planes coming in to land at OR Tambo; Try and talent search for the next Charlize Theron.
Race Flyer 2019 JC Entry Page

2019 JC Flyer Draft

JohnsonCrane_InformationSheet

Back in 2002, my last few seconds as the Running Boyy – before I finished my first marathon and became the Running Mann.

Note to marathon/ultra race organisers: I will be in contact to get information for future events but feel free to jump the gun and contact me directly.

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