Bonkolo Marathon (Warming up for a World Cup win)

[MARATHON #230 / Unique Marathon #131 / 2 November 2019]

Where were you when the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup for the third time?
In an ethnic hair salon in Stutterheim is my unlikely reply.
How I got there was a result of bad planning and incredibly low expectations.

With the Rugby World Cup final a couple of hours away, the support tables during the Bonkolo Marathon were in full swing. I asked these guys who was going to win. They answered correctly: ‘Bokke!’

South Africa has three marathons on the first weekend of November – Soweto, Kaapsehoop and Bonkolo. Soweto and Kaapsehoop are two of the biggest marathons in South Africa whereas Bonkolo, with just 120 runners, is definitely the acutest angle on this running triangle. Continue reading “Bonkolo Marathon (Warming up for a World Cup win)”


Riana van Niekerk Marathon (Showing off in Snor City)

[MARATHON #234 / Unique Marathon #134 / 30 November 2019]

A true test of a man’s virility can be found north of the Jukskei. Pretoria, aka Snor City, is the original Home of the Moustache. Fortunately fast facial hair growth is my superpower and, despite only putting my razor blades away halfway through Movember, I arrived at the start of the Riana van Niekerk Run & Walk For Bibles Marathon sporting a moustache of impressive elegance, grace and girth.

Continue reading “Riana van Niekerk Marathon (Showing off in Snor City)”


Magoeba Plunge Marathon (the Limpopo rollercoaster)

[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.

Continue reading “Magoeba Plunge Marathon (the Limpopo rollercoaster)”


Great Lake Marathon (Top secret marathon running)

[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)”


Bela-Bela Marathon (Boiling point in Limpopo)

[MARATHON #231 / My 2nd Bela-Bela Marathon / 9 November 2019]

Global warming is starting to make its impression on town names: Warmbad, Afrikaans for “Hot Bath”, recently changed its name (and from liquid to gas) to Bela-Bela, which means Boiling-Boiling in Tswana.

South African runners are generally pretty resilient to heat but I remember passing the discarded bodies of melted runners lying at the side of the road when I previously ran the Bela-Bela Marathon in 2010. Burn out was recently recognised as an official syndrome by the World Health Organisation – and I expect there is an epidemic in Bela-Bela.

Bela-Bela is in the Waterberg region of Limpopo and rudimentary science tells you that combining heat and water results in heaps of humidity. The town is basically one big Bikram Yoga studio during the summer months. Continue reading “Bela-Bela Marathon (Boiling point in Limpopo)”