[MARATHON #230 / Unique Marathon #131 / 2 November 2019]
Where were you when the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup for the third time? In an ethnic hair salon in Stutterheim is my unlikely reply. How I got there was a result of bad planning and incredibly low expectations.
[MARATHON #234 / Unique Marathon #134 / 30 November 2019]
A true test of a man’s virility can be found north of the Jukskei. Pretoria, aka Snor City, is the original Home of the Moustache. Fortunately fast facial hair growth is my superpower and, despite only putting my razor blades away halfway through Movember, I arrived at the start of the Riana van Niekerk Run & Walk For Bibles Marathon sporting a moustache of impressive elegance, grace and girth.
[MARATHON #229 / Unique Marathon #131 / 26 October 2019]
It’s said that sex, politics and religion are the three topics one should always steer well clear of. I am well known for ignoring sensible advice and tackle all three in this race report.
Ultra marathons are hard to come by in the second half of the year in South Africa. As summer heats up, the ultras dry up and by the time you get to the last quarter there is just one road ultra to service your running thirst: Polokwane’s Run4Cancer 48k (which also happens to be the only ultra marathon in the Limpopo Province).
I try to make one running trip a year to Limpopo’s capital city and, since Run4Cancer was the only marathon missing from my Polokwane portfolio, it was the logical place to drag my family over the mid-term school holiday (before anyone calls child services, I did include the sweetener of a couple of nights in a game reserve after the race).
[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.
[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.
[Marathon #202 / 2nd Mielie Marathon / 19 January 2019]
When I was young and naïve I thought you had to wait until the end of January to run your first marathon of the year. Luckily, I’m older and wiser now – and this new-found wisdom has unearthed two great options for those that want to get their first marathon done a week earlier: Either go digging for diamonds in the Kalahari Desert or butter your mielie in Welkom.
[Marathon #199 / Unique Marathon #110 / 10 November 2018]
I recently researched the most geographically extreme marathons in South Africa. This quickly led to me wondering which is the most central. It turns out that the geographic centre of South Africa is very close to Bloemfontein. I’ve seen many people use the word ‘literally’ when they mean figuratively (e.g. as in, “I’ve literally seen thousands of people using ‘literally’ incorrectly.”). However, if you were to say, “Bloemfontein is the dead centre of South Africa.” this would be true in both the literal and figurative sense of the term.
[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!