[Marathon #197 / Unique Marathon #109 / 28 October 2018]
The best time for a Western Province rugby supporter to run a marathon in Kwazulu Natal is the day after Western Province beat the Sharks in a Currie Cup final: When I boarded the flight to Durban at halftime things were looking promising with the good guys leading 6 – 0.
Unfortunately, the worst time for a Western Province rugby supporter to run a marathon in Kwazulu Natal is the day after Western Province lose to the Sharks in a Currie Cup final: When I turned on my phone shortly after landing, I was left with no doubt as to the result.
[Marathon #196 / Unique Marathon #108 / 13 October 2018]
Once a year Pretoria turns purple as 65,000 Jacaranda trees go into bloom and herald the start of summer. The impact of the trees on South Africa’s capital city is immense. They’ve resulted in Pretoria being nicknamed “Jacaranda City” and prominent purple branding adorns everything from the regional Tshwane municipality to the local radio station (which is of course called Jacaranda FM).
The Jacaranda City Challenge is perfectly timed to capture the trees in full bloom. Prince sang about Purple Rain – but if you really want to see the phenomenon in real life you should run the Jacaranda City Marathon. Running a marathon under a constant florid canopy is quite an experience. This year an overnight thunderstorm meant that we were also treated to a luxurious carpet of petals, whilst every gust of wind brought more purple blossoms raining down.
[Marathon #195 / Unique Marathon #107 / 7 October 2018]
I’ve been trying to get more proactive about running marathons in neighbouring countries. One of the countries I have been scouting is the small, landlocked, mountain kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland) and my investigations uncovered the Imbube Marathon. Run on the first Sunday in October, this proved the perfect opportunity to notch one more country onto the marathon list.
In Eswatini, everything revolves around the king – and the marathon is no different. The word ‘Imbube’ means ‘King’ in the local siSwati tongue and the event is personally signed off by King Mswati III himself.
[MARATHON #194 / UNIQUE MARATHON #106 / 22 September 2018]
There are marathons that are tough to get to and marathons that are tough to run. The Two Countries Marathons is both. The race starts 10km inside Zimbabwe near Beitbridge Town and ends back across the South African border in the sweltering furnace that is Musina.
Pay no heed to what they say about kitchens, if you can’t take the heat stay out of the Musina hotpot: The marathon ingredients are a gruelling drive to the far northern boundaries of South Africa, an early morning border crossing on one of the busiest roads in Africa and precisely 42.2km over vast expanses of heinous hills. Throw them together and cook for several hours in 35°C heat – and you have the recipe for a fantastic and unique marathon experience!
[MARATHON #193 / UNIQUE MARATHON #105 / 2 September 2018]
Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Science was my worst subject at school and I absorbed very little knowledge. However, Newton’s third law is one of the few snippets that stuck*. Restated, Newton’s third law means that for every attraction there is an equal but opposite repulsion. An example of this is the Bermuda Triangle (that sucks people and objects in) which would need to be countered by an equal but opposite place on the planet that repulses one with extreme vigour. My theory is that the opposite of the Bermuda Triangle is the Vaal Triangle. Continue reading “Vaal River City Marathon (Running circles around the Vaal Triangle)”
[MARATHON #191 / Riebeek BERgmarathon #2 / 4 August 2018]
Marathons are in short supply after Comrades. After two long months in the barren running wilderness, I was finally able to fall off the marathon wagon on the first weekend in August with the 33rd running of the PPC Riebeek Bergmarathon (my second). Although I am currently on a mission to run every marathon in the country, I don’t mind doing a few repeats here and there – and this marathon through the heart of the Western Cape’s Swartland is definitely worth a repeat visit.
[MARATHON #189 / UNIQUE MARATHON #103 / 13 May 2018]
With the South African marathon running scene on Comrades hiatus from 1 May until the end of July, I had to look further afield to find a marathon to keep my “marathon-a-week” training program going. Luckily one of our sub-Saharan neighbours obliged with the Diacore Gaborone Marathon on 13 May.
[MARATHON #188 / UNIQUE MARATHON #102 / 1 May 2018]
A Running Mann Walks Into A Bar & Says, “Barman, I Want To Run One Last Marathon Before Comrades”
The first of May is Workers’ Day in South Africa – somewhat ironic considering it falls smack back in the middle of our annual period of protracted wage negotiations and national strikes. For the Comrades runner, May signals the culmination of many months of hard work and training – with 1 May being the last day one can qualify or improve your seeding for the largest ultra on the planet. The local running calendar revolves around Comrades – and South African marathon organisers also down tools after Workers’ Day, shutting the local running scene down until the end of July.
I’m not one to rest on my laurels (in fact I’m a “Yanny” person and can’t even hear “Laurel”!) – although it had only been a couple of days since the Outeniqua Marathon and we’d just arrived back from our Garden Route trip, I knew I had to squeeze in one last marathon to beat the post-holiday blues and get through the barren marathonless winter months.
[MARATHON #187 / UNIQUE Marathon #101 / 28 April 2018]
I run a lot of marathons around the country. When local runners see the Gauteng license plates pinned to one’s vest they often ask, “Did you come here especially to run the marathon?” – and are suitably impressed (and often somewhat surprised) when you confirm that is indeed the case. When you run a marathon on the Garden Route, local runners ask a similar question from a slightly different perspective, enquiring “Are you here on holiday?”
You see, when you live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, your assumptions change and you know that even the most addicted marathon runner isn’t going to just ‘hit and run’ – it’s much more likely that they are going to ‘hit, run your marathon and stay for a few days’.
[MARATHON #185 / 3rd Jackie Gibson / 15 April 2018]
This is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre of marathons – connoisseurs of pain, horror and gore will love it whilst the weak and squeamish will hate every minute.
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!