The Running Mann’s Guide to November Marathons

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This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s November marathons including race descriptions, recommendations and travel information.

Although there are no ultras on offer, November is the busiest month on the South African distance calendar since April with 13 marathons  available:

Weekend One:

  • Queenstown’s longstanding Bonkolo Marathon is by far the smallest marathon on offer this weekend. This looks like a great race centred around the dam that bears the same name.
  • Mbombela’s flagship marathon, Kaapsehoop, starts amongst the wild horses before plummeting down to Mbombela Stadium (where those who go out too fast finish like donkeys).
  • Soweto was the largest marathon in the country in 2018 and will be aiming to maintain their status in 2019. With 40,000 entrants across the various events, expect the South Western Township to be buzzing even more than usual on the first Sunday of November.

Weekend Two:

  • Bloemfontein marathons seem to be disappearing but the Music Marathon is back on the playlist. A vibey event with plenty of colour and music-themed support tables to keep you going over the hilly course.
  • Bela Bela celebrates its 30th year and is an excellent reason for an away running weekend in the resort town famous for her warm baths.
  • Another great running weekend away is offered by the Winelands Marathon in Stellenbosch.

Weekend Three:

  • Life is tough with just two laps around Durban’s Bluff on offer this weekend. If you call their bluff you can expect to see plenty of hills and sea views along the way.

Weekend Four:

  • Die Vlakte is a point-to-point race from Heidelberg to the Witsand beachfront – a lowkey marathon that’s well worth running.
  • Another point-to-point option is the Josiah Gumede Marathon in rural Kwazulu Natal. I enjoyed the inaugural marathon last year and expect those running in 2019 will do as well.
  • A new event is the Mogoeba Plunge Marathon which, as the name suggests, is a downhill flyer from Haenertsburg to Tzaneen.
  • Those keen for a challenge can look into the Platinum Belt Marathon from Marikana to Phokeng (near Rustenburg). I ran the inaugural event in 2017 and it was a complete shambles. After being cancelled in 2018, they are having another go in 2019 but I would approach this one with extreme caution.
  • The busiest Saturday on the running calendar is rounded off with the Sani Stagger. This is my recommended run for November (see below for extended details) but you’ll have to wait until 2020 or get a substitution entry as the 2019 event is sold out.

Weekend Five:

  • Just one option this weekend. Another new marathon, the Riana van Niekerk Run/Walk for Bibles who are offering two laps of their well established half marathon route this year.

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The Running Mann’s Guide to October Marathons & Ultra

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This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s October marathons including race descriptions, recommendations and travel information.

October is a quiet month for marathon runners with just seven options spread all around the country, including two very interesting new events:

  • Mpumalanga offers tour of the rural villages on the western extremities of the Kruger National Park with the Shikumba Filling Marathon (named for the petrol station where the race starts and finishes).
  • Limpopo hosts the only ultra marathon of the month with the Run 4 Cancer 48k in Polokwane.
  • After a marshalling error resulted in a short course last year, De Wet de Beer and the team from Jacaranda Marathon are promising a runner-centric reboot of the event. Definitely check this one out – and the new route – if you’re in Gauteng (where marathons are scarce in the second half of the year).
  • My pick for the month is Boland’s best, the toughest race with the warmest heart and the southernmost marathon in Africa – Voet van Afrika Marathon (more details below).
  • The last Sunday on the month provides a tour of the Kwazulu Natal South Coast from  Scottburgh to Amanzimtoti at the Goss & Balfe Sapphire Coast Marathon.

There are two new marathons on the calendar. As I understand it (awaiting verification) you can use them to qualify for Two Oceans but not for Comrades. However, whilst they both seem like spectacular events, it’s doubtful anyone will actually use them as a qualifier for the reasons stated below:

  • The Clarens Golden Gate Marathon is an out-an-back route run entirely within the national park: an absolutely beautiful but disgustingly hilly part of the world.
  • The Cape Wine Marathon is an off-road circular tour of all the wine farms in the Durbanville Hills region of the Western Cape. There are 13 wine tasting tables so arrive with a clean palette and a designated driver.

Continue reading “The Running Mann’s Guide to October Marathons & Ultra”

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