[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.
[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.
[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.
[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.
[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.
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)”
[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.
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.
[MARATHON #173 / UNIQUE MARATHON #90 / 20 January 2018]
Pretty much everything shuts down in South Africa over the December / January school holiday period. Unfortunately, marathon running is no different: there is a total Sub-Saharan marathon shutdown between 16 December and 20 January.
Some people spend forty days fasting in the desert – so I thought it was appropriate to break my 40-day marathon drought with a run in the desert! The location was Lime Acres – a small town of about 4,500 people in the middle of the “green” Kalahari desert.
[MARATHON #153 / UNIQUE MARATHON #75 / 4 March 2017]
Many runners spend hours doing speed, track and hill work in the hope of getting faster and securing an elusive podium finish. I recently found out that this time could be better spent searching for the right race: It’s not how fast you run, it’s the races you pick!
The best way to get really stiff legs after a marathon is a long car drive – and the 7-hour drive from Port Elizabeth ensured that rigor mortis engulfed the lower half of my body by the time we reached Mthatha. Not ideal with the prospect of one of the toughest marathons in the country ahead… but at least the drive provided stunning views for this first time visitor to the Transkei.