Jackie Gibson Marathon (Where The Hills Have No Name)

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[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!

If you survive two-laps of the steepest hills Joburg south can throw at you, this is the great medal you’ll earn.

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Mall Of The North Marathon (The Pick of Polokwane)

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[MARATHON #184 / UNIQUE Marathon #99 / 7 April 2018]

I’ve spent three nights in Polokwane.

There are three marathons in Polokwane.

You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce the reason for each visit!

Having now run all three of Polokwane’s standard marathons, I can confirm that the Mall of the North Marathon is my favourite.

Acacia Thorn trees are distinctive in the Limpopo bushveld and line the route. First National Bank (FNB) also chose this tree for their logo (I’ve been told that this is because there’s a prick in every branch – but I’ve also been told that this applies to all the banks).

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Umgeni Water Marathon (One Dam Marathon After Another)

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[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!

Another dam fine marathon I got myself into (& around)!

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Kosmos 3-in-1 (Where A Marathon Is The Soft Option)

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[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!

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Maritzburg City Marathon (A Return To The Mainstream)

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[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.

It’s nice to stand in front of the Pietermaritzburg City Hall with just 15km left to run during the Maritzburg City Marathon. Will be standing here again on 10 June (along with 20,000 other Comrades) with a slightly more daunting 90.1km to go.

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Assegaai Marathon (Can You Judge A Marathon By The Shirt?)

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[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.

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Potties Marathon Photies (A Pictorial Report from the South African Bushveld)

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[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.

We caught up on marathon adventures on the drive to Mokopane (formerly Potgietersrus). Although the town name was officially changed in 2003, there are no plans to change the race name to Mokkies in the near future. Continue reading “Potties Marathon Photies (A Pictorial Report from the South African Bushveld)”

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Volksrust Marathon (High Spirits in the Highlands)

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[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.

The local farmers man most of the water tables and bring out their finest tractors to show off to the runners!

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.

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Finlime Marathon (The Time I Ran a Marathon in Middle of the Kalahari Desert)

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[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.

Finlime Marathon, Lime Acres (the middle of the Kalahari Desert)

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JB Marks Marathon, Ventersdorp

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[MARATHON #172 / UNIQUE MARATHON #89 / 16 December 2017]

I visited Ventersdorp for the first time ever in March this year (to run a marathon).

I visited Ventersdorp for the for second time this December (also to run a marathon).

Running a marathon is a one good reason to visit Ventersdorp. You will be hard pressed to find a second…

About to re-enter Ventersdorp – twice in one year (voluntarily).

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