The Running Mann’s Guide to August Marathons & Ultras


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

South Africa’s long distance road running scene awakes slowly from its post-Comrades winter hibernation with just six options (including one brand new race) for the marathon connoisseur.

It’s bonanza time in Kwazulu Natal where half the races are hosted (including both ultras) but Gauteng runners (and all those north of the Vaal) will have to make travel plans to get an early Two Oceans qualifier under the belt.


A summary of your choices is below:

Click to expand.

Recommended Runs

Recommended Marathon: The PPC Riebeek Bergmarathon is the right way to start your August running program. Just one hour from Cape Town, the marathon takes place around the exquisite Riebeek Valley in the Swartland. With ‘Berg’ in the title, you can expect a few massive climbs but the stunning scenery will distract you on the way up and the magnificent views from the top make the effort worthwhile. Make a weekend of it to enjoy sampling the local produce from South Africa’s breadbasket. You run past plenty of vineyards during the race and I strongly suggest you take some time to test the fermentation skills of the local farmers as part of your marathon recovery.

This is a marathon all ‘real’ runners will want to do at least once but be careful, this is an addictive event. I ran my first Bergmarathon in 2016 and will be back for my third trip this year – but Brackenfell runner, Brian Rothman, has run all 33!

Recommended Ultra: With just two to choices (and one of them an inaugural race), the winner by default is the 25th Memel Walk (they’ve allowed runners to join in the fun for the last few years). The race was started as a schoolboy dare – as in “I bet you couldn’t walk from Memel to Newcastle” and has become an iconic event in the local community.

The most precise distance markers in the country can be found on the road to Newcastle during the Memel Ultra: 27.72km down & 23.48km to go. This is what happens when you put the Amajuba High School maths department in charge of course measurement!

Top tip: Be careful not to eat too much breakfast in the Memel NG Kerk while you wait for the start – the locals go all out with generous plates of eats for all the runners and walkers.

No need to eat breakfast before you arrive.

Another top tip: Due to several geographic and metaphysical anomalies, the temperature in Memel is often the lowest in the country. Wear layers to peel off and don’t be shy to ask for a shot of OBs at the support tables!

One way to keep warm on a bitterly cold morning.

What I’ll be running this August: My 3rd PPC Riebeek Bergmarathon, 1st Prince Mangosuthu Ultra and 1st PetroSA Mararthon.

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!

PPC Riebeek Bergmarathon

Photo supplied.
Race Date Saturday 03 August 2019
Start Venue PPC Plant, Riebeek Wes
Route Type Circular
Contact Details
Distance Options 42\21\10
Online Entries
Pre-entries Close 31 July 2019
Title Sponsor PPC Ltd
Perm, Numbers? Yes
Entry Fee R 150
Extras? Goodie bag
Late Entries? No (5km only can be entered on day)
# of 2018 Finishers 348
Race Description The race starts and finishes at the PPC Cement Factory to the contrasting backdrop of Dickensian industrial machinery and pristine vineyards. The race explores the local towns of Riebeek Wes and Riebeek Kasteel – two of the oldest in the country. All the while one admires the unspoilt mountains in the distance before getting more closely acquainted with the Kasteelberg, Porseleinberg and Bothmaskloofpas over the second two thirds of the race (the latter two providing monster climbs that give the Bergmarathon its name). Once into the countryside, the views are stunning. This is a course that liberally dishes out the rewards to her diligent runners and the wonderful vista of the Riebeek Valley from the top of the Bothmaskloofpas alone is worth the entry fee.
Why Run It? A tough but stunning race just an hour from Cape Town. A marathon I look forward to running every year. Spend the night before the race in the original Royal Hotel, the oldest hotel in South Africa, and relax after the race on their stoep (the longest south of the Limpopo River).
How To Get There? Fly to Cape Town; 100km drive from the airport to Riebeek Wes/Kasteel.
Accommodation Options
What Else To Do There? The Riebeek Valley is a great place to spend a weekend and explore. Sample local wines, olives and craft beer after exploring the beautiful surrounds. Excellent restaurants too. This is the perfect location for the romantic marathon runner. See: for more.

Detailed Race Report: PPC Riebeek Bergmarathon (a win-win-win Winelands scenario)

Twizza Amathole Marathon

Photo from Oxford Striders Facebook page.
Race Date Sunday 04 August 2019
Start Venue Stutterheim
Route Type Point-to-point
Website N/A
Contact Details
Distance Options 42
Online Entries N/A
Pre-entries Close N/A
Title Sponsor Twizza
Perm, Numbers? No
Entry Fee R 130
Late Entries? Yes
# of 2018 Finishers 297
Race Description After departing Stutterheim there are 24km hilly kilometres before enjoying many downhills (and a few undulations) to the finish in King William’s Town
Why Run It? This is the second oldest marathon in South Africa.
How To Get There? Fly to East London; 100km (1h15) drive to Stutterheim
Accommodation Options Contact Daan Louw, 083 449 2991 or 082 575 3394 or email
What Else To Do There?  Private game reserves, surfing, fishing, hiking.
Race Flyer 2019 Amathole Marathon FC option2

Memel Ultra

Race Date Friday 09 August 2019
Start Venue Memel NG Kerk
Route Type Point-to-point
Contact Details
Distance Options 51.2\27.3
Online Entries
Pre-entries Close 31 July 2019
Title Sponsor Vlam Panelbeaters
Perm, Numbers? Yes (5 finishes)
Entry Fee R 150
Extras? Shirt (first 100 entries)
Late Entries? Yes
# of 2018 Finishers 88
Race Description A lowkey 51.2km race from Memel (the coldest town in the Free State) to Newcastle in Kwazulu Natal. The race is run along the along the historic Battlefields Route and provides breath-taking views once the early morning fog lifts. Expect great support tables and plenty of small-town hospitality along the way. Although the race starts over 1,700m above sea level and finishes around 1,200m, there is by no means an ‘easy ultra’. There are plenty of climbs along the way – and you’ll warm up quickly from a sub-zero start with a 17km climb to Botha’s Pass before dropping into Kwazulu Natal.
Why Run It? This year is the 25th anniversary of the Memel Walk (who also allow runners to join) and the organisers want to make the celebration special. A great way to spend your Women’s Day public holiday (ladies normally form the majority of the field).
How To Get There? 300km (3h15 drive) south
Accommodation Options Recommended by the organisers: (use keyword “Champ”)
What Else To Do There? Do a tour of the historic battlefields area.
Race Flyer

Detailed Race Report: Memel Ultra (The Legacy of a Schoolboy Dare)

Prince Mangosuthu Ultra

Note: This is the first year that the event is being held.

Race Date Sunday 11 August 2019
Start Venue Umagazi Secondary School, Nquthu, KZN
Route Type Point-to-point
Website N/A
Contact Details Kenneth 0733979358; Samu 0722904063; Khulu 0734138907
Distance Options 52\10\5
Online Entries
Pre-entries Close 10-Aug
Title Sponsor  Umzinyathi District Municipality
Perm, Numbers? Planned for future
Entry Fee R 130
Extras? Shirt
Late Entries? Yes
# of 2018 Finishers N/A
Race Description A new point-to-point ultra from Nqutu to Dundee in the Kwazulu Natal Battlefields region. This area is hilly and cold at this time of the year so expect tough conditions.
Why Run It? A new race on the calendar and a chance to explore somewhere new.
How To Get There? 370km (4h drive) south east
Accommodation Options Check out Google for B&B and hotel options
What Else To Do There? Do a tour of the historic battlefields area.
Race Flyer

PetroSA Marathon

Photo from Facebook page.
Race Date Saturday 24 August 2019
Start Venue Santos Caravan Park, Mosselbay
Route Type Out-and-back
Contact Details;
Distance Options 42\21\10
Online Entries
Pre-entries Close 19 August 2019
Title Sponsor PetroSA
Perm, Numbers? Yes
Entry Fee R 140
Extras? Shirt (first 250 entries); Goodie Bag (first 1,000 entries)
Late Entries? Yes R20 extra for late entries; no race day entries
# of 2018 Finishers 208
Race Description An undulating out-and-back route along the coastline. Enjoy 42km with the constant companionship of the Indian Ocean and Outeniqua Mountains.
Why Run It? Running in the Garden Route is always a pleasure. Give your legs a good test before going for a PB at Cape Town Marathon one month later.
How To Get There? Fly to George; 40km (30m) drive to Mossel Bay
Accommodation Options Recommended by organiser: Garden Court Protea Hotel – Mossel Bay 044-693 2800 or 076 829150 / Sao Bras Hostel 044-693 0894 or 083 3624565 / Ocean Hotel
De Bakke Santos 076 0587153
What Else To Do There? Botlierskop Game Reserve / Bartolomeu Dias Museum / Whale Watching / Beaches / Pinnacle Point Caves / Sunset Cruises / Deep Sea Fishing
Race Flyer

Mandela Day Marathon

Note: Received a response from the race director to the effect that one month is too short a turn around time to supply responses. Have made a note to allow extra time for Pietermaritzburg races in future. Unconfirmed information below is from the web site and flyer.

Photo from Facebook page.
Race Date Sunday 25 August 2019
Start Venue Pietermaritzburg
Route Type Point-to-point
Contact Details
Distance Options 42\21\10
Online Entries
Pre-entries Close ? (Should be closed according to published dates but they still appear to be taking online entries)
Title Sponsor ?
Perm, Numbers? ?
Entry Fee R 190
Extras? Shirt
Late Entries? No
# of 2018 Finishers 3964
Race Description One of the toughest marathons in the country – Nelson Mandela had a Long Walk to Freedom; this is one long, hard climb from Pietermaritzburg to the Mandela capture site in Howick.
Why Run It? A tough, beautiful and meaningful marathon to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela. This is also the largest standard marathon in Kwazulu Natal (and third largest in the country).
How To Get There? 500km (5h) drive or fly to Durban and 100km (1h) drive from King Shaka to Pietermaritzburg (slightly further to the Midlands).
Accommodation Options Check out Google for B&B and hotel options
What Else To Do There? Plenty to do in Pietermaritzburg – check out or spend some time in the magnificent Midlands.
Race Flyer MandelaDay_Marathon_Flyer


  • I will update this page as additional information becomes available/is provided.
  • If you have anything to add (or correct) please drop me a note.
  • I’m happy to answer any questions – feel free to contact me on social media Twitter / Facebook / Instagram
  • I plan to add route profiles and maps in future versions but don’t have time to chase these down at present.
  • 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.

See you on the road!

Previous Months

READ MORE: The Running Mann’s Guide to January Marathons

READ MORE: The Running Mann’s Guide to February Marathons

READ MORE: The Running Mann’s Guide to March Marathons

READ MORE: The Running Mann’s Guide to April/May Marathons


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