The Running Mann’s Guide to January 2024 Marathons

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This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s January 2024 marathons including race descriptions and recommendations. You can find the full 2024 marathon / ultra calendar here.

A summary of your choices is below:

Click to expand.

There are seven magnificent marathons to choose from in January for your Two Oceans or Comrades qualifier (or just because you want to run a marathon).

After an extended period of abstinence over the summer holidays, marathon running kicks of on the 20th with the Mielie and Volksrust Marathons. Mielie is a circular route around Welkom, the circle city, and is the flattest of the January offerings. You can also use the opportunity to get some Comrades tips from local legend Louis Massyn who will be running his 41st Mielie and 49th Comrades in 2024.

Volksrust is an out-and-back marathon that is packed with personality, exceptional support tables and the biggest finishers medal in the country. It’s an easy 2-hour drive from Joburg for those Gautengers looking for an accessible out-of-town race.

The last weekend of January has five options. Undoubtably the most scenic but hilliest of these is Red Hill which provides a tour of the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula (run it to find out what happens if you keep going straight at Fish Hoek during Two Oceans instead of turning right towards Sun Valley). The race offers stunning views and plenty of coastline running.

Another standout January marathon is Ottosdal. This small town in the North West more than doubles its population for marathon weekend and is a definite for your Top 10 list. It is the only night marathon in the country and provides an absolutely superb running experience. You get a spectacular sunset on the way out and enjoy running past 1,500 handmade lanterns on the way back.

The remaining two Saturday options are the Johann van Eeden Akasia (named after an Akasia runner who has completed 40 Comrades) and Middelburg. Akasia is a very popular double-lap marathon in the north of Pretoria with no parking hassles since the race is run from the Wonderpark Shopping Centre. Middelburg is the only January marathon that I have not yet run but I am looking forward to ticking this circular marathon off my list in 2024.

The final option is Johnson Crane which is by far the biggest January event in terms of finishers. The Johnson has probably claimed more marathon running virgins than any other race in the country and this double-lapper around Benoni is always a well organised and vibrant event.

January
AECI Mielie Marathon (Sat 20 Jan): Confirmed
Race DescriptionThis is a fast, uncongested, 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 45th running of the event (as such it is the oldest marathon in the States) and is a great pick for a fast January qualifier.
The race offers a permanent number to her regular customers and you can get some Comrades and Two Oceans tips from local legend Louis Massyn (48 Comrades and 46 Oceans finishes) along the route.
Detailed ReportMielie Marathon (The Amaizeing Race): http://runningmann.co.za/2019/02/09/mielie-marathon/
Race DateSaturday 20 January 2024
LocationWelkom, FS
Start VenueHTS Sports Grounds, Volks Road, Welkom
Route TypeCircular
Race Websitehttp://www.goudveldmultisport.co.za/
Contact Detailsgoudveldmultisport@yahoo.com
Distance42
Online Entrieshttps://evententry.co.za/events/202401-2/
Pre-entries CloseWednesday 17 January 2024
Entry FeeR250
Included ExtrasA 1kg bag of mielie meal; shirt (first 100 entries).
Late entriesYes (No race day entries; R50 extra for late entries)
Title sponsorAECI https://www.aeciworld.com/
Permanent NumbersYes (10th finish)
How to get there from Joburg?250km (2h30) drive from Joburg down the N1.
Accommodation OptionsCheck 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.
Normal Finishers+/- 200
Which year was the race started?1979
How many previous events have been held?44
Cutoff time5h30
First prize value?
Route Elevation (total climbing)199
Volksrust Marathon (Sat 20 Jan): Confirmed
Race DescriptionAn up and down, out and back route with some of the best support tables in the country (and arrive at the start with enough time to enjoy a complimentary cup of coffee and rusks). 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!
Detailed ReportVolksrust Marathon (High Spirits in the Highlands): http://runningmann.co.za/2018/02/04/volksrust-marathon/
Race DateSaturday 20 January 2024
LocationVolksrust, Mpu
Start VenueVolksrust Highschool
Route TypeOut-and-back
Race Websitehttp://volksrust.com/marathon/index-1.html
Contact Detailslindaduvenage@yahoo.com
Distance42
Online Entrieshttps://www.entryninja.com/events/79833-volksrust-marathon
Pre-entries CloseWednesday 17 January 2024
Entry FeeR200
Included Extras
Late entriesNo –
Title sponsorStucky Motors
Permanent NumbersNo
How to get there from Joburg?240km (2h45) drive.
Accommodation OptionsPlenty 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.
Normal Finishers+/- 100
Which year was the race started??
How many previous events have been held??
Cutoff time5h
First prize value1200
Route Elevation (total climbing)460
STBB Red Hill Marathon (Sat 27 Jan): Confirmed
Race DescriptionFind out what happens if you kept running straight at Two Oceans instead of turning right towards Sun Valley. The route is a stunner that explores the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula and is the most beautiful of the January marathon options.
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.”
Be aware that Fish Hoek is a dry suburb so you may have to smuggle your own beer to the finish line.
Detailed ReportRed Hill Marathon (Fish Hoek, line & sinker): http://runningmann.co.za/2020/02/28/red-hill-marathon/
Race DateSaturday 27 January 2024
LocationCape Town, WC
Start VenueSilverglade Sports Grounds, Fish Hoek
Route TypeCircular
Race Websitehttps://www.fishhoekac.com/
Contact Detailsrace@fishhoekac.com
Distance42
Online Entrieshttps://racetraq.co.za/product/red-hill-2024/
Pre-entries CloseWednesday 17 January 2024
Entry FeeR210
Included Extras
Late entriesNo –
Title sponsorTimbercity
Permanent NumbersYes (10th finish)
How to get there from Joburg?Fly to Cape Town; 45km drive from the airport to Fish Hoek
Accommodation OptionsPlenty of good options close to the start.
What else to do there?One could visit Boulders Penguin Sanctuary in Simonstown (a hit for the kids), take a trip to the light house at Cape Point, do some wine tasting at some wine farms close to the start and take a scenic drive over Chapmans Peak and work in a sunset picnic along the route of the famous Two Oceans Marathon.
Normal Finishers+/- 1000
Which year was the race started??
How many previous events have been held??
Cutoff time5h30
First prize value1100
Route Elevation (total climbing)569
Johann van Eeden Akasia Marathon (Sat 27 Jan): Confirmed
Race DescriptionA flat double-lapper around the north of Pretoria and proof that a small running club (Akasia with around 60 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.
The marathon honours Johann Van Eeden, an Akasia athlete who has completed 40 Comrades.
Detailed Report-: –
Race DateSaturday 27 January 2024
LocationPretoria, Gau
Start VenueWonderpark Shopping Mall, Karenpark, Pretoria
Route TypeDouble-lapper
Race Websitehttp://www.akasiaathleticsclub.co.za/mainrace.html
Contact Detailsaltje.conradie@absamail.co.za
Distance42
Online Entrieshttps://www.entryninja.com/events/79641-wonderpark-akasia-road-race
Pre-entries CloseMonday 22 January 2024
Entry FeeR300
Included Extras
Late entriesYes (R20 extra for late entries; no race day entries)
Title sponsorWonderpark Shopping Centre http://www.wonderparkcentre.co.za/
Permanent NumbersNo
How to get there from Joburg?80km (1h) drive but allow extra time for congestion.
Accommodation OptionsPlenty 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).
Normal Finishers+/- 2000
Which year was the race started??
How many previous events have been held??
Cutoff time6h
First prize value1000
Route Elevation (total climbing)395
Ottosdal Nite Marathon (Sat 27 Jan): Confirmed
Race DescriptionWith a 5:30pm start, this is the only night marathon in South Africa. An out-and-back, traffic-free route where lanterns line the road and guide you home after the sun sets. Ottosdal is the smallest town in the country to host a marathon and the town’s population more than doubles over race weekend (there are cycling events as well for the bike curious).
Enjoy the simplistic beauty of being out in nature as the sun starts to set. The profile is undulating although there are no major hills but a few good pulls that will give your legs a good workout while the declines allow your legs to enjoy a few sundowners.
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).
Detailed ReportOttosdal Night Marathon (Testing the Limits of Delayed Gratification): http://runningmann.co.za/2019/02/21/ottosdal-night-marathon/
Race DateSaturday 27 January 2024
LocationOttosdal, NW
Start VenueOttosdal Show Grounds, Koster Street
Route TypeOut-and-back
Race Websitehttps://ottosdaldrafentrap.co.za/
Contact Detailswilla@ottosdaldrafentrap.co.za
Distance42
Online Entrieshttps://ottosdaldrafentrap.co.za/product/online_entry/
Pre-entries CloseMonday 15 January 2024
Entry FeeR170
Included ExtrasShirt (pre-entries)
Late entriesYes (R50 extra for late entries)
Title sponsorNone
Permanent NumbersNo
How to get there from Joburg?240km (3h) drive west past Potch and Klerksdorp.
Accommodation Optionshttps://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.
Normal Finishers+/- 300
Which year was the race started?1994
How many previous events have been held?28
Cutoff time5h30
First prize value2100
Route Elevation (total climbing)310
Blue Mining Services Middelburg Marathon (Sat 27 Jan): Confirmed
Race DescriptionThe race promises to be an early season fitness tester that offers some of the finest views of Middelburg.
Detailed Report-: –
Race DateSaturday 27 January 2024
LocationMiddelburg, Mpu
Start VenueHoerskool Kanonkop, Middelburg
Route TypeCircular
Race Websitehttps://www.facebook.com/events/628272040935571/
Contact Detailsmmkinfo01@gmail.com
Distance42
Online Entrieshttps://secure.onreg.com/onreg2/front/step1.php?id=6286
Pre-entries CloseWednesday 24 January 2024
Entry FeeR220
Included Extras
Late entriesYes –
Title sponsorBlue Mining Services
Permanent NumbersNo
How to get there from Joburg?160km (1h45) drive using N12 or N4.
Accommodation OptionsCheck out Google for B&B options
What else to do there?https://middelburginfo.co.za/
Normal Finishers+/- 200
Which year was the race started?2008
How many previous events have been held?15
Cutoff time6h
First prize value800
Route Elevation (total climbing)439
Johnson Crane Marathon (Sun 28 Jan): Confirmed
Race DescriptionThis race lives up to the expectations that Benoni is the flattest, highest and most tedious part of the highveld: The route is back to a mostly single lap format (there is a small repeat section) through the city streets, suburbia and out into the countryside past smallholdings. Watch out for the nasty ‘slow poison’ pull from that dominates the six of the last seven kilometers.
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).
In Pre-Covid times, the event had 14,000 participants across all distances, making it one of the biggest running events in the country and 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.
This is the 41st running and Johnson Crane has sponsored every single edition.
Detailed Report-: –
Race DateSunday 28 January 2024
LocationBenoni, Gau
Start VenueWillowmoore Park, Benoni
Route TypeDouble-lapper
Race Websitehttp://johnsoncranemarathon.co.za/
Contact Detailsinfo@johnsoncranemarathon.co.za
Distance42
Online Entrieshttps://secure.onreg.com/onreg2/front/step1.php?id=6227
Pre-entries CloseMonday 22 January 2024
Entry FeeR321
Included ExtrasShirt
Late entriesNo –
Title sponsorJohnson Crane Hire https://jch.co.za/
Permanent NumbersYes (10th finish)
How to get there from Joburg?30 minute drive along the N12. However traffic is very congested so you need to allow at least 90 minutes.
Accommodation OptionsBirchwood 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.
Normal Finishers+/- 4000
Which year was the race started?1983
How many previous events have been held?40
Cutoff time5h30
First prize value3500
Route Elevation (total climbing)409

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