Johannesburg City Marathon (up in the dumps)


[MARATHON #263 / UNIQUE MARATHON #159 / 24 March 2024]

I don’t run many marathons in Gauteng these days but when I do, I usually head to the south for Soweto or Jackie Gibson. The last time I ran a Gauteng marathon was 2 years ago at the Jackie Gibson, hosted by Johannesburg Harriers (the oldest running club Gauteng), and I was keen to see what their inaugural Johannesburg City Marathon had in store.

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What’s in a name? (A Eulogy to the Jackie Gibson Marathon)


When I was at school, the matrics liked to roll marbles at their final assembly. The schoolboys all thought this was great fun but the teachers – and the deputy head in particular – not so much. I did not think that the deputy head’s face, who suffered from chronic alcoholism and was nicknamed “bottles”, could go any redder but the sound of a single marble rolling down the Memorial Hall was the trigger that would turn him purpler than Barney the Dinosaur after a long day in the sun*.

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Jackie Gibson Marathon (Where The Hills Have No Name)

[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.

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