Two Countries Marathon (Musina in Action)

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[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!

To tick this race off the bucket list, you must successfully conquer three arduous challenges… Continue reading “Two Countries Marathon (Musina in Action)”

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Vaal River City Marathon (Running circles around the Vaal Triangle)

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[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)”

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PPC Riebeek Bergmarathon (a win-win-win Winelands scenario)

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[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.

The Riebeek Bergmarathon starts and finishes at the PPC Cement Factory. Whilst the factory itself is very Dickensian, the beautiful grounds include a working vineyard and have historical significance as the birthplace of Jan Smuts.

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JM Busha Peace Marathon (A Tale From The Tavern)

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[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.

The sun rises over Randfontein.

Continue reading “JM Busha Peace Marathon (A Tale From The Tavern)”

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Outeniqua Marathon (The One I Almost Missed)

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[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’.

Running through the Garden of Eden: About to cross the Silver River on a road that’s a national monument.

Continue reading “Outeniqua Marathon (The One I Almost Missed)”

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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.

Continue reading “Jackie Gibson Marathon (Where The Hills Have No Name)”

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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.

Continue reading “Maritzburg City Marathon (A Return To The Mainstream)”

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