Darrin Mail never thought he’d be an ultra runner – let alone one who hopes to join the illustrious Blue Number club. Looking back he says, “What was I thinking?” and lays the blame squarely at the feet of his mother-in-law.
Some people have mid-life crises but Alison Smith questioned her entire existence.
One morning 9 years ago Alison awoke with a start and queried her Cape Townianess. Despite living in the city all her life, she realised she had not participated in either of the Mother City’s major sporting events. There is a lot of debate about what constitutes a ‘real runner’ but for Alison is was blatantly obvious that all ‘real Cape Townians’ had to peddle the Cape Town Cycle Tour or run Two Oceans to authenticate themselves.
[Marathon #209 / Unique Marathon #119 / 9 March 2019]
The plan to run a marathon in Upington began at the Mokopane Spur the night before the Potties Marathon. My companions that evening were the two JKs: former international rugby referee Jonathan Kaplan (120 marathons and going strong) and current Tarzan / Michael Bolton impersonator Julian Karp (770 marathons and going stronger). I was just the Mann in the middle with around 180 marathons at that stage.
[Marathon #208 / Unique Marathon #118 / 2 March 2019]
One of my wild running ideas is to pick the best and most beautiful small-town marathons from all around the South Africa and create a ‘Hidden Gems’ series – the objective being to add a finish at each one to your lifetime marathon running CV. It’s still very much in the formulative stage but I would ensure that there is at least one race per province.
There are so many great small-town marathons scattered all over our beautiful country that whittling the list down to a manageable size, say a dozen, is going to be a challenge. However, I expected a bigger challenge to be finding a Free State marathon that meets my stringent selection criteria. Although there are many great Free State runs, ‘beautiful’ is not adjective one readily associates with their routes.
Nevertheless, as an optimist by nature, I held out hope that a hidden gem could still be unearthed in the Free State. Many marathons ago, I got chatting to some runners from Bethlehem (if memory serves me correctly it was one wise man and two wise women) who told me of a neighbouring town called Clarens and a marathon called Surrender Hill. Continue reading “Surrender Hill Marathon (Overdosing on Maluti Muti)”
[Marathon #207 / Unique Marathon #117 / 23 February 2019]
When a holiday is announced in our household, the first question my daughters ask is not, “Where are we going?” but “What marathon is dad running?”. The answer this time was “The Hippo Marathon”, with a mid-term break enabling my daughters to spend four nights with their Nana in Pinetown while my wife and I were able to sneak off to Richards Bay for two of those nights.
This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s April and May marathons including race descriptions, recommendations and travel information.
April is ultra month, with seven ultras dominating the lonely three marathons on offer. There are just six road ultras in the world with over 1,000 finishers – they are all run in South Africa and four of them are held in April (my own personal favourite ultra is the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon over the Easter weekend).
[Marathon #206 / Unique Marathon #116 / 16 February 2019]
Father Christmas, unicorns, working indicators on BMWs and single-lap marathons in Pretoria. Before 2018 none of these existed – three still don’t.
Pretoria, South Africa’s capital city, is crammed full of bureaucrats and civil servants who like nothing more than to capture everything in duplicate – this philosophy spills out onto the streets with all their road running events being double-lappers. I am not sure whether there has ever has been a single-lap marathon in Pretoria but there has definitely never been one in Tshwane*. Call me a Doubting Thomas but when I heard that the Bestmed Tuks Marathon was a single-lap route I had to see it for myself to believe it. Continue reading “Tuks Marathon (Earning your undergraduate degree the hard way)”
[Marathon #205 / Unique Marathon #115 / 9 February 2019]
Klerksdorp was never high on my list of marathons to run. I almost ran it last year but then “got a better offer” and ended up doing Potties instead. There are some marathons that I look forward to doing and others I look forward to getting done – and I was expecting this to be one of the latter.
My only previous exposure to Klerksdorp has been driving through the city on the N12 – normally on the long drive to Kimberley for one of their marathons. People slow down to look at car crashes but they avert their eyes when driving through Klerksdorp. The only redeeming factor for Klerksdorp is that her N12 façade is slightly less ugly than that of her close neighbour Potchefstroom.
On top of this, the towns Klerksdorp and Potchefstroom are both are incredibly irritating with lots of slow, exasperating traffic and dozens (may well be hundreds) of infuriating, stop-start segments. Klerksdorp and Potchefstroom are like the mosquito and the fly – everyone tells you that they serve some kind of purpose, but no one can tell you what that purpose is. Continue reading “Klerksdorp Marathon (You Shouldn’t Judge A Town By Its Main Road)”
[Marathon #204 / Unique Marathon #114 / 2 February 2019]
Once a year, I take out the one wood for the long drive to Kimberley – five to six gruelling hours along the N12. I am slowly working through all the Kimberley and Northern Cape marathons in my quest to run every marathon in the country. When scheduling my races, the annual trip to Kimberley is one of the first to go into the plan – but I can only face doing the drive there once per year.