Johannesburg City Marathon (up in the dumps)

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[MARATHON #263 / UNIQUE MARATHON #159 / 24 March 2024]

I don’t run many marathons in Gauteng these days but when I do, I usually head to the south for Soweto or Jackie Gibson. The last time I ran a Gauteng marathon was 2 years ago at the Jackie Gibson, hosted by Johannesburg Harriers (the oldest running club Gauteng), and I was keen to see what their inaugural Johannesburg City Marathon had in store.

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Mapungubwe Marathon (off with their heads)

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[MARATHON #262 / UNIQUE MARATHON #158 / 2 March 2024]

These days the Limpopo running scene is a bit like Hydra from the Marvel universe: Every time you knock the head off the “final” Limpopo marathon on your list, two more pop up. And so it was that I returned to Polokwane for the inaugural Mapungubwe Marathon.

I got hold of race director Phateng Kgomo to check the details I was missing on my March monthly marathons article and he had a very short and simple route description for me, “Out-and-back. Hard.” Polokwane routes tend to be very hot but fairly flat (and I’ve run over most parts of the city in the various marathons I’ve done) so I was intrigued to see what the race would offer in terms of hills.

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Capital City Marathon (humans versus humidity)

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[MARATHON #261 / UNIQUE MARATHON #157 / 25 February 2024]

After a shoddy 2023 where not one family holiday was planned around a marathon, I am pleased to report that the Capital City Marathon was the focal point for our first family holiday of 2024. My top tip for Gauteng runners participating in Pietermaritzburg marathons is to avoid staying in Pietermaritzburg itself. Instead look for accommodation in the Midlands which makes the drive slightly shorter, your stay a lot more scenic and (even if you are staying on a working farm like we were) probably a lot better smelling too.

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Kloppers Marathon (and overcoming my Afrikaans angst)

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[MARATHON #260 / UNIQUE MARATHON #156 / 10 February 2024]

Afrikaans was never my strongpoint. Afrikaans teachers and I regarded each other with mutual contempt throughout my school career. One of them even banged her head on the desk in exasperation when she realised that my younger brother was in her class during his first roll call in standard 6. Let’s just say that my free-spirited schoolboy antics did not blend well with the strict (and sometimes sadistic) ethos of the average Afrikaans onderwyser.

Perhaps it is the psychological scarring I endured on the top floor of Rondebosch Boys High (I think they put the Afrikaans bloc there so that the other classes would not be disturbed by the screams) that has resulted in a subliminal avoidance of Bloemfontein marathons. To date I have just one credit, the OFM Music Marathon (which has not taken place since Covid) in the City of Roses. Therefore, I decided to face my fears and take my running shoes into the domain where Englishmen fear to tread by entering the Kloppers Marathon.

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Bhekizizwe Joseph Shabalala Marathon (The show aint over…)

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[MARATHON #259 / UNIQUE MARATHON #155 / 4 February 2024]

My mission to run every marathon in South Africa took me to Ladysmith on the first weekend of February for the Dr. Bhekizizwe Joseph Shabalala Marathon. Most of the KwaZulu Natal marathons are run on a Sunday so my frequent travel companion, Julian Karp, and I took a relaxed Saturday afternoon drive down the N3.

I had booked us accommodation at Farquar Lodge since the ratings were good, the price was affordable and I knew that there was a good “Farquar”-ing chance that I’d be able to make a joke or two about the venue name in the race report.

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Blue Mining MMC Marathon (Your Mann in the Middelburg)

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[MARATHON #258 / UNIQUE MARATHON #154 / 27 January 2024]

I have visited Middelburg several times to run the Loskop Ultra Marathon but have spent very little time in the town itself as the Loskop route directs you directly out of town and towards the Loskop Dam. Therefore, I was looking forward to getting better acquainted with the Mpumalanga town during the MMC Marathon (the only January marathon I did not yet have on my running CV).

Middelburg got its name as the halfway mark between Pretoria (then the capital of the Traansvaal Republic) and the gold-mining town of Lydenburg in 1872. It’s an easy 2-hour highway drive to get to Middelburg from Johannesburg which is on the cusp of a very early wake up drive on race morning distance. However, you can get some bad morning fog so I decided on the overnight option. Unfortunately, my easy Friday afternoon drive was made a little more hair-raising after getting caught in a hailstorm that left my car with more dents than a naked paintballer.

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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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LetsGo Potch Marathon (searching for pots, chefs & strooms)

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[MARATHON #253 / UNIQUE MARATHON #150 / 28 OCTOBER 2023]

Although it was mid-term school break, I could not sell a weekend away in Potchefstroom to my teenage daughters. Therefore, I did the short trip along the N12 from Joburg solo. Two hours later I was in the North West province and checked into my accommodation for the night – an establishment called Beesdam. I had chosen it for proximity to the start which would allow me a slightly longer sleep the following morning. Potchefstroom is a university town and my room was adjacent to the main campus entrance. When booking, I noted that one of the rooms offered a “studding” desk – things have certainly changed since I was a student.

Upon arrival I settled into a beer and a few Friday afternoon emails whilst watching the Proteas cruising to victory against Pakistan and gloatingly posted to our family WhatsApp group about “enjoying the bachelor life”. I made the 500m stroll down the road to registration, which was friendly and efficient, hoping that Markram and Miller would wait for my return before knocking off the winning runs.

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