[MARATHON #185 / 3rd Jackie Gibson / 15 April 2018]
People are very liberal dishing out advice when you’re 21. When I was 21, I migrated upcountry from a small cliquey, seaside village called Cape Town to the metropolis of Johannesburg – and received plenty of unsolicited advice. Most of it I either completely ignored or quickly forgot. However, the one piece of advice I took to heart and still apply 20 years later (probably because of the gravity with which it was delivered) was, “Stick to the north of Johannesburg. You can’t go wrong in the north of Johannesburg. But whatever you do – stay clear of the south!”
Two decades is a long time to survive in Johannesburg – overall I have come through relatively unscathed, I’ve only had one car stolen and have avoided most of the pitfalls one associates with life on the highveld (like being hijacked, mugged or becoming a Lions supporter). I attribute much of the success of this survival strategy to heeding the above advice – and, other than for weddings and marathons, I have avoided the south of Johannesburg like KPMG avoids due diligence. Just like in Game of Thrones, people of the north need to limit the amount of time they spend in the south if they want to survive!
[MARATHON #182 / Unique Marathon #98 / 25 MARCH 2018]
After Om Die Dam the previous week and Kosmos (around Lake Umuzi) the week before that, I headed down to Midmar Dam for the Umgeni Water Marathon – in what was quite literally a case of just one dam marathon after another!
[MARATHON #180 / UNIQUE MARATHON #97 / 10 MARCH 2018]
The Kosmos Marathon in Secunda is an easy 90-minute drive from Johannesburg – this is below the “stayover for the night vs. drive on the morning” threshold so I was up just after 3am to get to the 6am start. After eight consecutive Friday nights away from home to run different marathons around the country, I enjoyed the novelty and comfort of sleeping in my own bed before a race – although my daughters were not impressed that their weekly camp out with mom was cancelled!
[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 #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.