Two Oceans Board member (and former chairperson) calls cutoff issue ‘trivial matter’

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It is in times of great turmoil that you hope for a hero. Someone who will step forward to create sense and order from the chaos. Someone who will do the right thing when others cower and hide. Someone who will act with the maturity and integrity that their peers seem incapable of.

As William Shakespeare said, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” It was indeed another William who raised his hand amidst the turmoil of the Two Oceans cutoff saga. William Swartbooi is a current Two Oceans Board member and former chairperson of the organisation.

This William is part of a Board that has stumbled over sensibility, tripped over truthfulness and trampled on the hopes and dreams of the runners they are meant to serve. If William Shakespeare were alive today, no doubt the Bard of Avon would shake his head in dismay and observe on the current Board of Bergvliet, “Some are born stupid, some achieve stupidity, and some have stupidity thrust upon them.”

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Two Oceans 2024: Copycat cutoff chaos

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Two Oceans are known to copy whatever Comrades does. Comrades’ prestigious Green Number Club was followed by Two Oceans’ Blue Number Club. When Comrades added an hour to their finish time, Two Oceans extended the same favour. When Comrades introduced qualification marathons, Two Oceans added the same criteria to take part. When Comrades introduced the Bill Rowan Medal between silver and bronze, Two Oceans quickly followed with the Sainsbury. I really didn’t think Two Oceans would copy Comrades’ cutoff debacle but here we are.

This article provides an in-depth independent investigation of organisational deficiencies, statistical analysis of previous results data and first-hand accounts of what happened at the Two Oceans marathon cutoff and top of Constantia Nek. It aims to drop a series of logic bombs amidst Two Oceans’ sea of debatable decisions and questionable explanations.

Executive Summary:

  • The 2024 marathon cutoff was 10 minutes stricter than for the 2022 and 2023 event (and 13 minutes stricter than pre-Covid events).
  • The change in cutoff conditions was not communicated effectively to participants.
  • Data from previous Two Oceans events was not used to determine the stricter cutoff times.
  • Data analysis shows that 55 participants who earned a medal in 2023 would have been cutoff with 2024 times. With entry number increases, this equates to +/-70 runners robbed of a medal in 2024.
  • Data analysis shows that Blue medallists typically run far faster than the 8:11/km allowed over the final 14km in 2024.
  • Female runners, who typically pace ultras better and finish faster, were negatively impacted dramatically more by the stricter marathon cutoff than were men.
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Two Oceans Ultra Marathon Cutoffs: Unedited Runner Stories

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The following are unedited correspondence I’ve received from various 2024 Two Oceans ultra runners who were impacted by the the marathon and Constantia Nek cutoffs. I have just removed any identifying text like names and race numbers.

I believe that this is a valuable resource to understand that there are always humans who are impacted in different ways by these unfortunate decisions. Some are angry, others disappointed, others disillusioned – there’s a wide variety of different emotions.

I will be publishing an in-depth analysis of the cutoff issue in the next few days (I’ve just received answers to my detailed questions from the Two Oceans Organisation). The article will draw from some of these stories.

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“Worst thing I have witnessed in 20 years of running” says International Runner with 418 marathon finishes in 77 countries

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Danish runner, Tor Rønnow, travelled to Cape Town especially for the 2024 Two Oceans Ultra Marathon. Rønnow is an accomplished runner with 418 marathon finishes in 77 different countries across all 7 continents. He’s run all 6 world marathon majors but, surprisingly, the Two Oceans was his first ultra marathon.

The calm before the cutoff controversy storm.
Continue reading ““Worst thing I have witnessed in 20 years of running” says International Runner with 418 marathon finishes in 77 countries”
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Race Relations: Cancellation Controversy in the time of Corona

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[This article was originally published on Sport24.co.za]

Following on from the in-depth look at the Comrades Marathon Association’s decision not to refund 2020 entrants, this article evaluates the ‘refund / no refund’ decisions of South Africa’s other large marathons and ultras who’ve been forced to cancel their 2020 events during the coronavirus pandemic.

READ: Money or the Goody Bag? The Great Comrades Refund Debate article.

 

Of the Big 5 ultra marathons, only Om Die Dam took place in 2020. The largest four ultra marathons have all been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic with only Loskop being able to offer full refunds.

South Africa’s largest three marathons are all still planned for last quarter of 2020. The Wally Hayward Marathon is the only Big 5 marathon impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic to date but were able to offer the choice of a refund or deferred entry to runners.

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The Home Ironman Experience (my first triathlon)

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[Unofficial MARATHON #1 / Triathlon #1 / 4 April 2020]

It was a dark and stormy night.

It was a dark and stormy morning too.

In fact, the whole damn week had been dark and stormy.

Still, I had no one but myself (and some bat-eating bastard in Wuhan) to blame for the predicament I now faced. On the coldest, wettest and most miserable day of the year, I was the idiot who’d be attempting a Home Ironman as his first ever triathlon. Continue reading “The Home Ironman Experience (my first triathlon)”

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Great Greeff (Two marathons a month keep the doctor away for this 84-year-old)

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The Tony Viljoen Masters Marathon in East London was started in the late 1970s as a way to encourage athletes to continue participating in athletics events after they’d “past their prime”. In East London, “past your prime” is considered “over 35” – and the inaugural race in 1978 had a strict “no under-35s” restriction.

Four decades later and the rules have been relaxed to allow youngsters to run the race socially. However, this is a marathon that specifically caters to the older generation and prizes are only awarded for those born before 1984. These are awarded in five-year brackets from 35-39 all the way through to the oldest finisher.

This year it stopped at 75-79 in the ladies’ section of the race with the 75-year-old Paula Richardson finishing in 5:20. In the men’s field, the incredible 84-year-old Caspar Greeff pushed the finish categories all the way to the 80-84 division with a 5:30 finish. In doing so he became the oldest ever finisher of the race and probably set the record as the oldest South African to complete a marathon*.

* I’ve checked with those in the know and no one could identify any older marathon finishers in South Africa. Riël Hauman, the demure and normally sedate statistician, added “Caspar is a freak!”

Caspar Greeff relaxes with his Atlantic AC clubmates, Mark Wagenheim and Jonathan Kaplan, after the Tony Viljoen Masters Marathon (photo courtesy Jonathan Kaplan).

Continue reading “Great Greeff (Two marathons a month keep the doctor away for this 84-year-old)”

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