Elias Resort Marathon (Don’t they know it’s Christmas time at all?)

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[MARATHON #256 / UNIQUE MARATHON #153 / 27 December 2023]

One would have to be a complete sadist to organise a marathon in Limpopo at the end of December – on the other hand, one would have to be a complete idiot to run it. It just takes one sadist to organise a marathon in Limpopo’s northern extremities in December but there were 76 idiots who ran it. Naturally I was one of them.

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1City Marathon (Benoni by the beach)

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[MARATHON #255 / UNIQUE MARATHON #152 / 2 December 2023]

Irene van Eeden from Eastern Province Athletics heard that Julian and I would be coming through for the 1City marathon and asked what marathon number we’d be running, promising to give us the corresponding numbers. There was a slight hitch though because the printed race number sequence issued for the race did not include either of our marathon counts (927 for Julian and 255 for me). However, Irene made a plan with some handy “cut and paste” decoupage skills to ensure that we both ran with a memorable personal touch.

A lovely personal touch from the organisers – Julian and I received customised race numbers featuring our marathon count.
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Cheetahs Marathon (rocking Mththa’s rolling hills)

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[MARATHON #254 / UNIQUE MARATHON #151 / 12 November 2023]

I ran my first marathon in 2002 and ended the year with 7 marathons completed (4 standards and 3 ultras). Until now, Covid years excluded, that was my worst year of running. Unfortunately, I will definitely slump to a new low score in 2023 but there was one silver lining – the lack of marathon travel meant that I still had one 75% Vitality discount return flight that needed to be used before the year was done. This justified an otherwise unaffordable flight to Mthatha for the Cheetahs Marathon by knocking R4,000 off the airfare.

The alternate way to get to Mthatha from Joburg at a reasonable cost is to fly to East London, hire a car and do the three-hour drive along the N2. This was the routing Julian Karp had chosen (after running the Jacaranda Marathon on Saturday morning) so I collected his race number for him. Cheetahs would be Julian’s 923rd marathon and 8th in 4 weekends. Based on his diet of ‘two marathons a weekend’, I noted that it was highly appropriate that Julian has been allocated race number 4242.

Julian race number was 4242 – highly appropriate since he was running his fourth consecutive weekend of back-to-back marathons. The race entry fee of R300 includes a high quality t-shirt.
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Shikhumba Marathon (Back in the saddle up Dead Donkey Hill)

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[MARATHON #252 / UNIQUE MARATHON #149 / 7 October 2023]

I had not run a marathon for over 16 months courtesy of sloth and a boring neural issue in my knee. Having received a complimentary entry to Cape Town Marathon, I’ve spent the last few months getting marathon fit (or as close as possible to it) again. Then came the inconvenient realisation that my daughter’s birthday was the day before Cape Town Marathon.

I have a newfound respect for government negotiators and their dealings with the trade unions. After a short but intense round of negotiations, I realised that there would be no compromise. Either I flew my daughter and her friends to Cape Town (and convinced the body corporate at my mom’s retirement village in Noordhoek to host her birthday party) or I would have to find another plan.

Another plan was found. The plan involved a 500-kilometre drive to the northern extremities of the Limpopo Province and was one week earlier (meaning one week less to train) but it would have to do. Luckily, a few old running compatriots had the same plan and I was able to tag along with Julian Karp, Don Rukando and Farai Razano (names listed in order of marathons completed – 915, 161 and 101 respectively) on their marathon adventures to the Shikhumba* Marathon.

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How to Become an Authentic Marathon Running Tourist

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I have completed 31 international marathons amongst my current total collection of 251. The vast majority of these were front loaded into my running career when I was fortunate enough to do a substantial amount of business travel and managed to work in a marathon or two around the actual work.

The first was Prague when a week of work conveniently coincided with the weekend of the Prague Marathon – a city full of beautiful Gothic architecture and Bohemian culture but for me the biggest significance was that this was the city where Pilsner was invented. Thirsty marathon runners will also be pleased to note that beer prices in Prague are roughly equivalent to those in South Africa.

My first international marathon back in 2005 – I enjoyed the Gothic architecture, Bohemian culture and cheap Pilsner at the Prague Marathon.
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Seshego Marathon (Signing out from Polokwane)

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[MARATHON #250 / UNIQUE MARATHON #147 / 1 May 2022]

Having run all their marathons and ultras, I thought that I was done with Polokwane but then this new race popped up on the calendar and sweating out a 50k seemed like an appropriate way to spend Workers’ Day.

The Seshego Marathon is an appropriate way to spend Workers’ Day.

These days I am finding that most of the adventure in running marathons is getting to the start. Point-to-point races always pose logistical challenges and my dire need of beauty sleep (according to my daughters’ forthright opinions, I have a severe deficit in this regard) exacerbates this problem. Continue reading “Seshego Marathon (Signing out from Polokwane)”

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(The runt of the litter at) The Wolfpack Warriors Marathon

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[MARATHON #242 / Unique Marathon #142 / 18 September 2021]

“Good. A few kilograms too good.”

That’s been my standard response this year when asked the question, “How are you doing?”

I started off lockdown well, initially running over 1,000 kilometres in my driveway but the pandemic slowly ground me down – and the lack of events steadily curtailed my weekly distance until I was running just enough to earn my free Vitality coffee each week. Continue reading “(The runt of the litter at) The Wolfpack Warriors Marathon”

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Magoeba Plunge Marathon (the Limpopo rollercoaster)

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[MARATHON #233 / Unique Marathon #133 / 23 November 2019]

Part I: Tracey Trolls the Internet

You couldn’t miss the Magoeba Plunge Marathon, there was a constant barrage on social media publicizing the event. This was Tracey van den Dool’s baby and she was a proud expectant mother. I am not sure where she found the time, but it seemed like every free moment was spent thinking of innovative ways to promote the event in the lead-up.

Tracey trolled the internet and every time someone asked a question about “recommended marathons” there was an almost immediate response from one Tracey van den Dool saying, “Come to Tzaneen and check out the Magoeba Plunge”. She also had plenty of engagement with her potential customers, for example when someone said, “Will there be watermelon?”, watermelon was added to the shopping list.

When someone asked, ‘Will there be watermelon?’, watermelon was added to the shopping list. You won’t find fresher watermelon anywhere else.

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Great Lake Marathon (Top secret marathon running)

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[MARATHON #232 / Unique Marathon #132 / 16 November 2019]

Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario are collectively known as The Great Lakes of North America. In the United Kingdom, the county of Cumbria boasts the world-famous Lake District and National Park. In Africa, Lake Victoria’s secret wetland has long since been exposed. However, very few people know that South Africa has its own secret ‘Lake District’ tucked away in rural Mpumalanga.

You would think that the site of 270 lakes and pans (one of which is South Africa’s largest freshwater lake) and the home to almost 300 species of birds (and the annual breeding ground for 20,000 flamingos) would be a well-known tourist destination. Yet even Getaway magazine failed to include this pristine piece of Mpumalanga countryside in their article on “8 wonderful wetlands in South Africa”. Continue reading “Great Lake Marathon (Top secret marathon running)”

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Golden Gate Marathon (The National Park run)

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[MARATHON #227 / UNIQUE MARATHON #130 / 5 October 2019]

In South Africa we are privileged to be able to run several marathons inside our National Parks and World Heritage Sites. I am always keen for the chance to add another National Park run to my collection and therefore jumped at the opportunity to enter the inaugural Clarens Golden Gate Marathon.

Having run Surrender Hill Marathon in Clarens earlier this year, I was familiar with the scenery (= stunning) and terrain (= gruelling) so I knew we could expect a run of unsurpassed beauty and unrelenting hills just down the road in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Continue reading “Golden Gate Marathon (The National Park run)”

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