Bonkolo Marathon (Warming up for a World Cup win)

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[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)”

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Sedibeng Marathon (Getting down & dirty in the Vaal Triangle)

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[MARATHON #235 / Unique Marathon #135 / 8 December 2019]

Running a marathon in the Vaal Triangle for the views, is like watching a porno for the storyline.

As they say in the classics, “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes”. I’m not one to judge anyone for what they do in the privacy of their own home – and you shouldn’t judge those who choose to run in the Vaal Triangle (not until you’ve run a marathon in their shoes anyway)! And speaking of classics, Debbie might already have done Dallas – but Stuart still needed to strut around Sedibeng.  Continue reading “Sedibeng Marathon (Getting down & dirty in the Vaal Triangle)”

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Riana van Niekerk Marathon (Showing off in Snor City)

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[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.

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Anco Ultra (You know you’re addicted to running when…)

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[MARATHON #241 / Unique Marathon #141 / 14 March 2020]

I’ve seen plenty of “You know you’re a runner when…” lists. They usually include items like getting up earlier on the weekend than during the week, having one pair of smart shoes and a dozen pairs of running shoes, spending more on running kit than on food, etc.

Unfortunately, for you the aspirant real runner, all those lists are completely bogus. The real test of whether you’re a real runner or not is, of your own volition and free will, travelling to Welkom to take part in a triple-lap ultra. That’s my excuse for making the three hour drive south to run the Anco 48k Ultra and I’m sticking to it.

Continue reading “Anco Ultra (You know you’re addicted to running when…)”

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Diamond Marathon (Roughing it amongst the diamonds)

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[MARATHON #240 / Unique Marathon #140 / 7 March 2020]

The chance to run a golden jubilee marathon happens once every 50 years. The chance to run the golden jubilee of the Diamond Marathon is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Therefore, when it came to planning my 2020 race schedule, the first race that went down in ink was the Northern Cape’s oldest marathon.

Congratulations to Kimberley Harriers Running Club on your golden jubilee (and thanks for the wonderful hospitality). (Photo from Kimberley Harriers’ Facebook page)

Continue reading “Diamond Marathon (Roughing it amongst the diamonds)”

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Hemel & Aarde Marathon (Leap year running)

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[MARATHON #239 / Unique Marathon #139 / 29 February 2020]

For the last few years, my daughters’ mid-term break had provided the opportunity for the family to have a short holiday (and for dad to run a new marathon). This year it was down to the Fairest Cape for the inaugural Hemel and Aarde Marathon, run between Caledon and Hermanus.

For those unfamiliar with Afrikaans, ‘Hemel’ means Heaven and ‘Aarde’ means Earth. Despite what Belinda Carlisle sang in the 80s, Heaven is not a place on Earth, but the Hemel and Aarde is a marathon in the Western Cape.

Heaven might not be a place on earth but Hemel and Aarde is a marathon (and a valley) in the Western Cape.

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Bielie Mielie Marathon (Valentine’s Day in the Free State)

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[MARATHON #238 / Unique Marathon #138 / 15 February 2020]

This year I spent Valentine’s Day in Frankfort. By choice I might add. That is a scenario that needs some explanation so here is the backstory…

I’ve been told that the most romantic thing you can do in the Free State is take your lover to an agricultural festival. As agricultural festivals go, they don’t get much bigger than the VKB Bielie Mielie Festival in Reitz and, as luck would have it for Free State romantics, this year the festival fell over Valentine’s weekend. Continue reading “Bielie Mielie Marathon (Valentine’s Day in the Free State)”

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Hillcrest Marathon (Code Brown on the Comrades route)

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[MARATHON #237 / Unique Marathon #137 / 9 February 2020]

I was viewing the Hillcrest Marathon as something of a grudge purpose. Big field, big city, double-lap routes are my least favourite marathon type. Once a year is more than enough to ingratiate my legs on the Comrades route – and my muscle memory still hadn’t forgotten their last visit in June. Needless to say, my legs were happy to wait another few months before setting foot in Hillcrest again. What is more, during the Red Hill Marathon in Cape Town, barefoot runner Peter Taylor told me that Hillcrest has the roughest roads on the Comrades route. Continue reading “Hillcrest Marathon (Code Brown on the Comrades route)”

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Red Hill Marathon (Fish Hoek, line & sinker)

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[MARATHON #236 / Unique Marathon #136 / 25 January 2020]

After running like an idiot for most of the year, I took things easy with ‘sensible running’ over the festive season. Despite running 34 marathons in 2019, I ended the year four kilograms heavier than I was at the end of 2018. In an effort to curb additional gains to the midriff, I decided to switch to Lite beer but I should have heeded the, “If It ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra. Lite beer and sensible running are a lethal combination to the serious marathon runner and resulted in my first injury in over six years.

Following the extended bout of end-of-year marathon abstinence, I look forward to mid-January when I finally get a chance to butter my Mielie again in Welkom at the first marathon of the year. Unfortunately, the injury meant I had to wait all the way until the end of January before consummating my running year. I did however, save my legs for someone special – the Red Hill Marathon in the south of Cape Town. Continue reading “Red Hill Marathon (Fish Hoek, line & sinker)”

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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.

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

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