Back in the BC (before children) days of disposable income, I was fortunate enough to stay at some of the luxury lodges in the greater Kruger National Park area which included a couple of trips to the Timbavati. In addition to the morning and evening game drives, the lodges offer post-breakfast bush walks. I would always enquire (much to my wife’s embarrassment) about the possibility of a post-breakfast run instead of the more sedate walking option. Lodge staff are trained in exceptional customer service and are used to dealing with stupid questions from demanding guests. However, my question always broke through the poker-faced veneer of the luxury hospitality industry and produced a look of extreme incredulity before composure was regained and a polite, “No chance of that I’m afraid” was received. Continue reading “Timbavati Traverse (Fantastic Beasts & where we found them)”
I was fortunate enough to receive an invite to run the Timbavati Traverse, a 45 kilometres single-day event through the unfenced Timbavati Private Game Reserve. I’ve got a mega-article coming out soon about the event. In an attempt to trim the core article down to epic length, I’ve decided to publish this snippet as a separate story.
The Timbavati Traverse is an event rather than a race. This year the field was expanded from 20 to 60 entrants with a 21km walk and two 45km running busses: bus number one was the fast bus and bus number two was the slow fun bus. I was a happy passenger in bus number two.
South Africa is famous for having the biggest and best ultra marathons on the planet: There are less than ten ultra marathons worldwide with more than 1,000 finishers and over half of them are in South Africa.
However, we’ve also got some brilliant small field ultras that are worth working into your running plans. For those that like the personal touch, here’s a list of ten awesome low-key ultras that will be happy to take your money, show you a good time and will still respect you in the morning. With the prospect of a relatively normal year ahead (let’s hope!) why not plan an ultra running road trip or two? Continue reading “10 Great Small South African Ultras”
[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.
This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s April and May marathons including race descriptions, recommendations and travel information.
April is ultra month, with seven ultras dominating pairing nicely with the seven standard marathons on offer. There are just six road ultras in the world with over 1,000 finishers – five are run in South Africa and three of them are held in April (my own personal favourite ultra is the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon over the Easter weekend).
It’s also the busiest May I’ve ever seen with five options including the new Midvaal Marathon and the reintroduction of the False Bay 50. The Cross Province Marathon is the only new race in April. Continue reading “The Running Mann’s Guide to April/May Marathons & Ultras”
This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s March marathons including race descriptions, recommendations and travel information.
There are fantastic marathon running options in every corner of our beautiful country during March 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”
[Marathon #226 / Unique Marathon #129 / 28 September 2019]
Although South Africa is known for being “ultra mad”, in reality our runners only have sporadic bouts of insanity with a select few races. The two main delirium inducing culprits are Comrades and Two Oceans (the only two ultra marathons in the world to record over 10,000 finishers) – and there are just three other ultras (Loskop, Om Die Dam and Irene) that boasted more than 1,000 finishers in 2019.
Furthermore, the second half of the year is particularly lucid with just a handful of road ultras on the calendar – and all these races have to be content with a few hundred institutionalised patients participants. You’d have to be crazy to voluntarily check yourself into the nuthouse. Likewise, there are no rational explanations for entering ultra marathons in the desert, only justifications – here are mine.
At 80 kilometres, Laingsburg’s Karoo Ultra is the only race on the calendar between the Two Oceans and Comrades distances making it what long distance snobs call a “proper ultra”. As such, it is a race that any self-professed running connoisseur must have on his CV. I also love a bargain – and with an entry fee of just R100 ($7/€6), this is the cheapest rand per kilometre race in the country (the further you run the more you save!).
[Marathon #221 / Unique Marathon #125 / 11 August 2019]
When a horse throws you off its back, we’re told to be brave, laugh it off and get back onto the horse as quickly as possible. Using this line of reasoning, I figured that if a marathon tosses you to the tar, the appropriate response is to write a detailed blog post bemoaning poor race organisation and the toughness of the route, drink a few beers and then pick another marathon to run as quickly as possible.
* I guess that the modern-day equivalent of falling off your horse is riding your bicycle in some rugby posts and then milking it for all it’s worth on social media.
Dundee’s Dorothy Nyembe Marathon tossed me off, her mountainous climbs almost broke my back and the rejection I suffered over a meagre 42 kilometres severely dented my fragile male ego. Although marathons are scarce at this time of the year, as luck would have it, the next event on the calendar presented the opportunity to return to Dundee and an attempt to tame an even larger horse: The inaugural Prince Mangosuthu 52k Ultra Marathon. Continue reading “Prince Mangosuthu Ultra (The Dundee double)”
This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s August marathons including race descriptions, recommendations and travel information.
South Africa’s long distance road running scene awakes slowly from its post-Comrades winter hibernation with just six options (including one brand new race) for the marathon connoisseur.
It’s bonanza time in Kwazulu Natal where half the races are hosted (including both ultras) but Gauteng runners (and all those north of the Vaal) will have to make travel plans to get an early Two Oceans qualifier under the belt. Continue reading “The Running Mann’s Guide to August Marathons & Ultras”
[Marathon #214 / 11th Loskop Ultra Marathon / 6 April 2019]
It is rather perturbing to wake up at the feet of Dawn* for one of your favourite ultra marathons and find that there is a 4am text message saying, “URGENT NOTICE: Due to public violence en-route both race starts will be delayed by AT LEAST an HOUR – Police are evaluating the situation. Next update 5:00”. Continue reading “Loskop Marathon (The one with a late start & a fast finish)”