[MARATHON #186 / UNIQUE Marathon #100 / 21 April 2018]
Prudent South African runners only plan their running year BC (before Comrades). When you’re running Comrades in June, it is presumptuous to plan anything for the second half of the year. Having ended 2017 with 89 unique marathons, I realised that I could reach my goal of 100 unique marathons in 2018 BC via a combination of three factors: good health, extensive travel and a very understanding wife.
Everything went perfectly to plan: After 13 consecutive marathon running weekends all around the country (with just three repeat races: Om Die Dam, Two Oceans and Jackie Gibson), it was now time to conclude the 100 unique marathons goal. When picking a milestone marathon, many people would pick a large, flashy and prestigious marathon – but there’s a big risk of getting “Phantom Menanced” and the hype not living up to expectations.
[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!
South Africa hosts the two biggest (and greatest) ultra marathons in the world: Two Oceans and Comrades. I’ve been asked many times about the difference between the two. My philosophical view is that if you are a teenager in love, Two Oceans is the sweet, charming, beautiful girl that you should marry. Comrades is the girl that’s way out of your league but is malevolent enough to string you along, thinking you have a chance – only to break your heart (and your body) after crushing your spirit and ripping out your soul.
Growing up in Cape Town, Two Oceans was my “girl next door” – and it was as a teenager that I fell in love with her. I had just started high school at Rondebosch Boys and they asked for volunteers to hold up kilometre boards over the first 15km and man (or in my case “boy”) the last support table on the route. This seemed like a really good idea since I could support my Dad (The Old Running Mann) and we were told we could drink as much Coca-Cola as we liked on the day. In future years Rustenburg Girls School were invited to partner us at the table (which made the proposition even more attractive!). Continue reading “Two Oceans (A Love Letter To My Favourite Ultra)”
[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!
Some people have one kid and decide that’s enough;
Quite a few people have one kid, take a few years to recuperate before having another (and maybe squeeze out one more after that) – but then they’re done for good, knowing with certainty that that’s enough;
Some people stick to “recreational running”, deciding never to have kids after seeing the haggard and traumatised faces of friends with kids and hearing their tired tales of endurance;
But then there are those crazy people who just keep popping out kids year after year. I am one of those crazy people – having just popped out my 10th Om Die Dam.
[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!
[MARATHON #179 / UNIQUE MARATHON #96 / 3 March 2018]
The runners in Mbombela like to go down. They have one marathon (Kaapsehoop) and one ultra – and both are certified quadkillers – plummeting you from the highest points in the Lowveld down to Mbombela (in the lowerveld).
How low can you go? You have the choice of doing the Uniwisp Fast 10, 21.1, 42.2 or 50km. Having just done the 50km option (what else!), I can certify that this is the fastest ultra in country and makes Loskop look like Longtom.
[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.
[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.