Five Must-Do Races in South Africa
Have you ever considered chasing some running dreams on the southern tip of Africa? Apart from its breathtaking natural beauty and rich cultural diversity, South Africa also has much to offer in terms of once-in-a-lifetime running opportunities. So, if you’re ever headed in that direction, put at least one of these five must-do races on your list!
The Comrades Marathon is massively popular with runners of all abilities and boasts en route spectator support unlike any other. Often labeled as “life changing”, it promises to be a lifetime high.
This 89 km ultra marathon, also referred to as “the ultimate human race”, takes place annually on the first Sunday in June. The hilly route snakes between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and the start and end points are alternated every year. 2017 will see an “up run” from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, with a net increase in altitude from start to finish. On alternate years, the race direction is then reversed.
Renown for showcasing the camaraderie between runners from all walks of life, this race is definitely one for the books.
Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon or Half Marathon
With Table Mountain as a backdrop, it is no wonder that this race claims to be “the world’s most beautiful marathon”. In addition, the route also showcases the meeting place of the cold Atlantic Ocean and the warmer Indian Ocean – hence the name. Talk about perfection!
The race takes place annually over Easter weekend and boasts activities for the whole family. This includes the Two Oceans Ultra (56 km), a hugely popular half marathon, an International Friendship Run, different trail running options and a nappy dash and toddler’s trot for the young ones. And if that isn’t enough, you can also spend some time at the very impressive race expo. The expo takes place over three days and is one of the best in the country.
Old Mutual Soweto Marathon
This is one race that you shouldn’t miss if you’re a history boffin. Starting at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, it offers marathon, half marathon and 10K distance options. The route then winds past some iconic beacons of the struggle for freedom from apartheid. These include Walter Sisulu Square, the Regina Mundi church, Kliptown, the Morris Isaacson High School, Vilakazi Street (home to Nelson Mandela from 1946 to 1962) and the Hector Peterson Memorial.
It is important to note that this race does not have full road closure. Police officers, traffic officials and marshals are; however, on duty to look after the safety of participants.
Caste Lager Skukuza Half Marathon
Fancy a run on the wild side? Then the Castle Lager Skukuza Half Marathon is for you. This race takes place inside the world renown Kruger National Park, and promises to be an experience that you’ll never forget. And don’t worry: Armed game guards are on duty to protect you from unpleasant encounters with the Big Five.
The race starts and ends at the park’s main rest camp, Skukuza. Characterized by short, steep climbs, the route is sure to challenge you while treating you to the sights and sounds of the beautiful bushveld. And who knows, you might even surprise yourself with a new PB thanks to a good old surge of adrenaline!
Momentum Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon or Half Marathon
The Momentum Cape Times Knysna Forest Marthon and Half Marathon form part of the annual Knysna Oyster Festival. This extremely popular winter festival transforms Knysna into a bustling hub of all things active for ten unforgettable days. With adventure races, cycling races, a host of different trail runs and all the oysters you can eat, this is one festival that you’ll never forget.
On race day, minibus taxis transport participants of both the marathon and half marathon to a temporary race village set up in the heart of the Knysna Forest. Here you can stay warm with the help of gas heaters and steaming coffee until the starting gun fires. From the forest, the race route slowly winds its way back to Knysna, but not before treating participants to some breathtaking forest scenery.
A definite highlight on South Africa’s winter running calendar.
So, planning a trip to South Africa anytime soon? Then be sure to add at least one of these races to your itinerary. You will return home with some impressive bling and bragging rights, and, not to mention, memories for life!