Loskop Marathon (The one with a late start & a fast finish)

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[Marathon #214 / 11th Loskop Ultra Marathon / 6 April 2019]

It is rather perturbing to wake up at the feet of Dawn* for one of your favourite ultra marathons and find that there is a 4am text message saying, “URGENT NOTICE: Due to public violence en-route both race starts will be delayed by AT LEAST an HOUR – Police are evaluating the situation. Next update 5:00”. Continue reading “Loskop Marathon (The one with a late start & a fast finish)”

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Great East Marathon (The Kruger Park run)

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[Marathon #211 / Unique Marathon #121 / 23 March 2019]

It pays to have friends who are more persistent than you are. Last year the Great East Marathon was a new addition to the running calendar – but was cancelled without so much as a race flyer going out. I’ve been writing monthly articles detailing all South African marathons and try to make contact with race directors to confirm details but, after half a dozen emails and phone calls went unanswered, I assumed that the sun had already set on the Great East Marathon in 2019.

I was therefore very surprised when my friend, Julian Karp, gave me a call to ask if I wanted to join him running the Great East Marathon. Julian likes to run two marathons a weekend and, since this was the only marathon listed on Saturday 23 March, he doggedly hunted the organisers down – his tenacity paying off with confirmation that “the marathon is definitely on”. Continue reading “Great East Marathon (The Kruger Park run)”

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John Nugent Marathon (Upington: The Final Frontier)

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[Marathon #209 / Unique Marathon #119 / 9 March 2019]

The plan to run a marathon in Upington began at the Mokopane Spur the night before the Potties Marathon. My companions that evening were the two JKs: former international rugby referee Jonathan Kaplan (120 marathons and going strong) and current Tarzan / Michael Bolton impersonator Julian Karp (770 marathons and going stronger). I was just the Mann in the middle with around 180 marathons at that stage.

Hatching a plan over a pre-marathon meal in Mokopane with the two JKs.

Continue reading “John Nugent Marathon (Upington: The Final Frontier)”

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Josiah Gumede Marathon (Escaping Black Friday in the Drakensberg)

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[Marathon #200 / Unique Marathon #111 / 24 November 2018]

A good way to avoid the Black Friday madness that has engulfed our country over the last few years is to head into the countryside. As luck would have it, a new marathon had popped onto the calendar which provided a reliable means of escape: The Josiah Gumede Marathon (42.2 point-to-point kilometres nestled into the northern Drakensburg). Continue reading “Josiah Gumede Marathon (Escaping Black Friday in the Drakensberg)”

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Imbube Marathon, Eswatini (Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only A Marathon Runner)

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[Marathon #195 / Unique Marathon #107 / 7 October 2018]

I’ve been trying to get more proactive about running marathons in neighbouring countries. One of the countries I have been scouting is the small, landlocked, mountain kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland) and my investigations uncovered the Imbube Marathon. Run on the first Sunday in October, this proved the perfect opportunity to notch one more country onto the marathon list.

In Eswatini, everything revolves around the king – and the marathon is no different. The word ‘Imbube’ means ‘King’ in the local siSwati tongue and the event is personally signed off by King Mswati III himself.

Getting ready to start the King’s marathon.

Continue reading “Imbube Marathon, Eswatini (Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only A Marathon Runner)”

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Two Countries Marathon (Musina in Action)

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[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!

To tick this race off the bucket list, you must successfully conquer three arduous challenges… Continue reading “Two Countries Marathon (Musina in Action)”

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Blood Buddy Ultra (The Legacy of a Schoolboy Dare)

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[MARATHON #192 / UNIQUE MARATHON #104 / 9 AUGUST 2018]

For those who weren’t stockpiling candles and canned food, the early 1990s was a period of unbridled optimism in South Africa: The times they were a changin’ and democracy was a comin’. It was in this spirit that a small group of 11 matric students from Amajuba High School and three of their teachers sat around a camp fire discussing the future.

The conversation meandered around innumerable topics until one student wondered whether it was possible to walk between the local towns of Memel (in the Free State) and Newcastle (in Kwazulu Natal). This proved an interesting topic, one thing led to another, the gauntlet was thrown down and a dare was unleashed. Continue reading “Blood Buddy Ultra (The Legacy of a Schoolboy Dare)”

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Gaborone Marathon (The Most Expensive Run I’ve Ever Done)

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[MARATHON #189 / UNIQUE MARATHON #103 / 13 May 2018]

With the South African marathon running scene on Comrades hiatus from 1 May until the end of July, I had to look further afield to find a marathon to keep my “marathon-a-week” training program going. Luckily one of our sub-Saharan neighbours obliged with the Diacore Gaborone Marathon on 13 May.

Continue reading “Gaborone Marathon (The Most Expensive Run I’ve Ever Done)”

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Potties Marathon Photies (A Pictorial Report from the South African Bushveld)

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[MARATHON #176 / UNIQUE MARATHON #93 /  10 FEBRUARY 2018]

Running with a buddy is fun and saves costs when travelling. I’ve been running a marathon a weekend and my travelling running buddy, Julian Karp, has been doing two a weekend – but it was only on week four of the South African marathon calendar that our plans aligned for the Potties Marathon.

We caught up on marathon adventures on the drive to Mokopane (formerly Potgietersrus). Although the town name was officially changed in 2003, there are no plans to change the race name to Mokkies in the near future. Continue reading “Potties Marathon Photies (A Pictorial Report from the South African Bushveld)”

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