Johannesburg City Marathon (up in the dumps)

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[MARATHON #263 / UNIQUE MARATHON #159 / 24 March 2024]

I don’t run many marathons in Gauteng these days but when I do, I usually head to the south for Soweto or Jackie Gibson. The last time I ran a Gauteng marathon was 2 years ago at the Jackie Gibson, hosted by Johannesburg Harriers (the oldest running club Gauteng), and I was keen to see what their inaugural Johannesburg City Marathon had in store.

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What’s in a name? (A Eulogy to the Jackie Gibson Marathon)

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When I was at school, the matrics liked to roll marbles at their final assembly. The schoolboys all thought this was great fun but the teachers – and the deputy head in particular – not so much. I did not think that the deputy head’s face, who suffered from chronic alcoholism and was nicknamed “bottles”, could go any redder but the sound of a single marble rolling down the Memorial Hall was the trigger that would turn him purpler than Barney the Dinosaur after a long day in the sun*.

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Mapungubwe Marathon (off with their heads)

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[MARATHON #262 / UNIQUE MARATHON #158 / 2 March 2024]

These days the Limpopo running scene is a bit like Hydra from the Marvel universe: Every time you knock the head off the “final” Limpopo marathon on your list, two more pop up. And so it was that I returned to Polokwane for the inaugural Mapungubwe Marathon.

I got hold of race director Phateng Kgomo to check the details I was missing on my March monthly marathons article and he had a very short and simple route description for me, “Out-and-back. Hard.” Polokwane routes tend to be very hot but fairly flat (and I’ve run over most parts of the city in the various marathons I’ve done) so I was intrigued to see what the race would offer in terms of hills.

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Capital City Marathon (humans versus humidity)

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[MARATHON #261 / UNIQUE MARATHON #157 / 25 February 2024]

After a shoddy 2023 where not one family holiday was planned around a marathon, I am pleased to report that the Capital City Marathon was the focal point for our first family holiday of 2024. My top tip for Gauteng runners participating in Pietermaritzburg marathons is to avoid staying in Pietermaritzburg itself. Instead look for accommodation in the Midlands which makes the drive slightly shorter, your stay a lot more scenic and (even if you are staying on a working farm like we were) probably a lot better smelling too.

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Kloppers Marathon (and overcoming my Afrikaans angst)

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[MARATHON #260 / UNIQUE MARATHON #156 / 10 February 2024]

Afrikaans was never my strongpoint. Afrikaans teachers and I regarded each other with mutual contempt throughout my school career. One of them even banged her head on the desk in exasperation when she realised that my younger brother was in her class during his first roll call in standard 6. Let’s just say that my free-spirited schoolboy antics did not blend well with the strict (and sometimes sadistic) ethos of the average Afrikaans onderwyser.

Perhaps it is the psychological scarring I endured on the top floor of Rondebosch Boys High (I think they put the Afrikaans bloc there so that the other classes would not be disturbed by the screams) that has resulted in a subliminal avoidance of Bloemfontein marathons. To date I have just one credit, the OFM Music Marathon (which has not taken place since Covid) in the City of Roses. Therefore, I decided to face my fears and take my running shoes into the domain where Englishmen fear to tread by entering the Kloppers Marathon.

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Bhekizizwe Joseph Shabalala Marathon (The show aint over…)

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[MARATHON #259 / UNIQUE MARATHON #155 / 4 February 2024]

My mission to run every marathon in South Africa took me to Ladysmith on the first weekend of February for the Dr. Bhekizizwe Joseph Shabalala Marathon. Most of the KwaZulu Natal marathons are run on a Sunday so my frequent travel companion, Julian Karp, and I took a relaxed Saturday afternoon drive down the N3.

I had booked us accommodation at Farquar Lodge since the ratings were good, the price was affordable and I knew that there was a good “Farquar”-ing chance that I’d be able to make a joke or two about the venue name in the race report.

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Blue Mining MMC Marathon (Your Mann in the Middelburg)

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[MARATHON #258 / UNIQUE MARATHON #154 / 27 January 2024]

I have visited Middelburg several times to run the Loskop Ultra Marathon but have spent very little time in the town itself as the Loskop route directs you directly out of town and towards the Loskop Dam. Therefore, I was looking forward to getting better acquainted with the Mpumalanga town during the MMC Marathon (the only January marathon I did not yet have on my running CV).

Middelburg got its name as the halfway mark between Pretoria (then the capital of the Traansvaal Republic) and the gold-mining town of Lydenburg in 1872. It’s an easy 2-hour highway drive to get to Middelburg from Johannesburg which is on the cusp of a very early wake up drive on race morning distance. However, you can get some bad morning fog so I decided on the overnight option. Unfortunately, my easy Friday afternoon drive was made a little more hair-raising after getting caught in a hailstorm that left my car with more dents than a naked paintballer.

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Elias Resort Marathon (Don’t they know it’s Christmas time at all?)

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[MARATHON #256 / UNIQUE MARATHON #153 / 27 December 2023]

One would have to be a complete sadist to organise a marathon in Limpopo at the end of December – on the other hand, one would have to be a complete idiot to run it. It just takes one sadist to organise a marathon in Limpopo’s northern extremities in December but there were 76 idiots who ran it. Naturally I was one of them.

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The Running Mann’s Guide to March 2024 Marathons

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This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s March 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. (Note: Mapungubwe and Festival of Running Marathons confirmed after publication)
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