Surrender Hill Marathon (Overdosing on Maluti Muti)

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[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)”

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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]

This is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre of marathons – connoisseurs of pain, horror and gore will love it whilst the weak and squeamish will hate every minute.

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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