[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.
[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.
[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)”
[Marathon #221 / Unique Marathon #125 / 11 August 2019]
When a horse throws you off its back, we’re told to be brave, laugh it off and get back onto the horse as quickly as possible. Using this line of reasoning, I figured that if a marathon tosses you to the tar, the appropriate response is to write a detailed blog post bemoaning poor race organisation and the toughness of the route, drink a few beers and then pick another marathon to run as quickly as possible.
Dundee’s Dorothy Nyembe Marathon tossed me off, her mountainous climbs almost broke my back and the rejrection I suffered over a meagre 42 kilometres severely dented my fragile male ego. Although marathons are scarce at this time of the year, as luck would have it, the next event on the calendar presented the opportunity to return to Dundee and an attempt to tame an even larger horse: The inaugural Prince Mangosuthu 52k Ultra Marathon. Continue reading “Prince Mangosuthu Ultra (The Dundee double)”
[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 writingmonthlyarticlesdetailing 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)”
[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.
[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)”
[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.
[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!