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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The Running Mann’s Guide to March 2024 Marathons

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This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s March 2024 marathons including race descriptions and recommendations. You can find the full 2024 marathon / ultra calendar here.

A summary of your choices is below:

Click to expand. (Note: Mapungubwe and Festival of Running Marathons confirmed after publication)
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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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Westville Illovo Christmas Challenge (Fifteen festive kilometres)

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It’s always nice to get invited to a well-planned Christmas party. My invite came all the way back in July in the following format, “My name is Catherine Dixon and I do the communications, PR and social media for Westville Athletic Club. We host our annual race in December each year that is a bit of an icon on the KZNA calendar. I see that you are open to trying different races and I was wondering if A) you would be interested in running our event in December (Sunday December 10th) and B) What would be required from your end to run/blog about our event.”

I was still an injured runner in July but figured I could commit to a 15km in December. I therefore replied that if Westville were happy to cover my travel costs, I’d love to run their race. The helpers’ run is on Saturday so Catherine suggested that to get the full Westville Christmas experience, I arrive on Friday and participate in both the helpers and official run. I am all for maximising the experience so that is exactly what I did.

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Cheetahs Marathon (rocking Mththa’s rolling hills)

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[MARATHON #254 / UNIQUE MARATHON #151 / 12 November 2023]

I ran my first marathon in 2002 and ended the year with 7 marathons completed (4 standards and 3 ultras). Until now, Covid years excluded, that was my worst year of running. Unfortunately, I will definitely slump to a new low score in 2023 but there was one silver lining – the lack of marathon travel meant that I still had one 75% Vitality discount return flight that needed to be used before the year was done. This justified an otherwise unaffordable flight to Mthatha for the Cheetahs Marathon by knocking R4,000 off the airfare.

The alternate way to get to Mthatha from Joburg at a reasonable cost is to fly to East London, hire a car and do the three-hour drive along the N2. This was the routing Julian Karp had chosen (after running the Jacaranda Marathon on Saturday morning) so I collected his race number for him. Cheetahs would be Julian’s 923rd marathon and 8th in 4 weekends. Based on his diet of ‘two marathons a weekend’, I noted that it was highly appropriate that Julian has been allocated race number 4242.

Julian race number was 4242 – highly appropriate since he was running his fourth consecutive weekend of back-to-back marathons. The race entry fee of R300 includes a high quality t-shirt.
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