The Running Mann’s Guide to March Marathons & Ultras

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This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s March marathons including race descriptions, recommendations and travel information.

The combination of a five-weekend month and a late Easter (and therefore Two Oceans)  makes March the busiest month on the South African marathon running calendar with 27 marathons and ultras. There are fantastic options in every corner of our beautiful country which makes this the ideal month for a running vacation (that’s a holiday planned around marathons – not a break from running!). Continue reading “The Running Mann’s Guide to March Marathons & Ultras”

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The Running Mann’s Guide to February Marathons

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This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s February marathons including race descriptions, recommendations and travel information.

Marathon running is in full swing in February and those who still need to run a qualifier have 24 great options to choose from all around the country. Unqualified Two Oceans runners should be looking to get a marathon under the belt so that there is no pressure for the 18th of March cut-off.  Continue reading “The Running Mann’s Guide to February Marathons”

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The Running Mann’s Guide to January Marathons

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This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s January marathons including race descriptions and recommendations.

South African marathons go on hiatus from the beginning of December until the middle of January. As a marathon running obsessive, I normally get withdrawal symptoms during the break (symptoms include a lethargy in the legs and a noticeable swelling in the belly) so I try to get my first marathon of the year done at the earliest opportunity. The good news is that there are seven great options to choose from in January. Continue reading “The Running Mann’s Guide to January Marathons”

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Sapphire Coast Marathon (Delayed Planes, Delayed Trains & Marathon Running)

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[Marathon #197 / Unique Marathon #109 / 28 October 2018]

The best time for a Western Province rugby supporter to run a marathon in Kwazulu Natal is the day after Western Province beat the Sharks in a Currie Cup final: When I boarded the flight to Durban at halftime things were looking promising with the good guys leading 6 – 0.

Unfortunately, the worst time for a Western Province rugby supporter to run a marathon in Kwazulu Natal is the day after Western Province lose to the Sharks in a Currie Cup final: When I turned on my phone shortly after landing, I was left with no doubt as to the result.

For most of the year the people of Durban are affable, kindhearted and gentle-natured but during rugby season they go into musth – becoming agitated and aggressive. Winning is not a habit that comes gracefully to the average Sharks* fan – and my phone battery steadily drained as a constant influx of obnoxious messages bombarded my social media accounts. Continue reading “Sapphire Coast Marathon (Delayed Planes, Delayed Trains & Marathon Running)”

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Jacaranda Marathon (Purple Rain in Pretoria)

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[Marathon #196 / Unique Marathon #108 / 13 October 2018]

Opening Chords

Once a year Pretoria turns purple as 65,000 Jacaranda trees go into bloom and herald the start of summer. The impact of the trees on South Africa’s capital city is immense. They’ve resulted in Pretoria being nicknamed “Jacaranda City” and prominent purple branding adorns everything from the regional Tshwane municipality to the local radio station (which is of course called Jacaranda FM).

The Jacaranda City Challenge is perfectly timed to capture the trees in full bloom. Prince sang about Purple Rain – but if you really want to see the phenomenon in real life you should run the Jacaranda City Marathon. Running a marathon under a constant florid canopy is quite an experience. This year an overnight thunderstorm meant that we were also treated to a luxurious carpet of petals, whilst every gust of wind brought more purple blossoms raining down.

Continue reading “Jacaranda Marathon (Purple Rain in Pretoria)”

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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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Outeniqua Marathon (The One I Almost Missed)

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[MARATHON #187 / UNIQUE Marathon #101 / 28 April 2018]

I run a lot of marathons around the country. When local runners see the Gauteng license plates pinned to one’s vest they often ask, “Did you come here especially to run the marathon?” – and are suitably impressed (and often somewhat surprised) when you confirm that is indeed the case. When you run a marathon on the Garden Route, local runners ask a similar question from a slightly different perspective, enquiring “Are you here on holiday?”

You see, when you live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, your assumptions change and you know that even the most addicted marathon runner isn’t going to just ‘hit and run’ – it’s much more likely that they are going to ‘hit, run your marathon and stay for a few days’.

Running through the Garden of Eden: About to cross the Silver River on a road that’s a national monument.

Continue reading “Outeniqua Marathon (The One I Almost Missed)”

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Marathon Addict? Guilty As Charged! (My 100th Unique Marathon At Bruintjieshoogte)

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[MARATHON #186 / UNIQUE Marathon #100 / 21 April 2018]

Prudent South African runners only plan their running year BC (before Comrades). When you’re running Comrades in June, it is presumptuous to plan anything for the second half of the year. Having ended 2017 with 89 unique marathons, I realised that I could reach my goal of 100 unique marathons in 2018 BC via a combination of three factors: good health, extensive travel and a very understanding wife.

Everything went perfectly to plan: After 13 consecutive marathon running weekends all around the country (with just three repeat races: Om Die Dam, Two Oceans and Jackie Gibson), it was now time to conclude the 100 unique marathons goal. When picking a milestone marathon, many people would pick a large, flashy and prestigious marathon – but there’s a big risk of getting “Phantom Menanced” and the hype not living up to expectations.

Summiting a termite mound in preparation for summiting the Bruinjieshoogte pass.

Continue reading “Marathon Addict? Guilty As Charged! (My 100th Unique Marathon At Bruintjieshoogte)”

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Jackie Gibson Marathon (Where The Hills Have No Name)

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[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.

Continue reading “Jackie Gibson Marathon (Where The Hills Have No Name)”

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