every year thousands of running fanatics descend upon Kwazulu Natal for the roughly 89 kilometre Comrades Marathon, just like they do every year. The Comrades Marathon is a significant race on any runner’s calendar, but it is not the only African marathon worth travelling for. We have rounded up 5 other African marathons that are worth going the distance for.
The Big Five Marathon
This is a one-of- a-kind race which takes runners through an unfenced wilderness area which is home to Africa’s Big Five. The marathon takes place at Entabeni Game Reserve in Limpopo. It is pretty tough with steep, rocky downhill sections as competitors descend the escarpment onto the plateau, and similarly steep uphill sections on the return. Runners are kept on their toes knowing that they could come across lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo or leopard at any point during the race. This is not a great spectator race but the experience will be unforgettable for competitors!
The Knysna Forest Marathon
This race is standard marathon length but throws up challenges in the form of cold weather and at times unsteady terrain. Having said that though, it is a pleasant race taking you through calming forest scenery and over passes with beautiful views of the ocean. Furthermore it forms part of the festivities of the annual Knysna Oyster Festival. If you aren’t based in Knysna, the race’s location and timing make it worth the trip, as does the comfortable accommodation in Knysna.
The Soweto Marathon
The Soweto Marathon is a 42 kilometre race which takes competitors through the streets of Soweto, South Africa’s biggest township. Unique its location, the race came into being as a way to promote sport in South Africa and to showcase the developments that are consistently taking place in this Joburg township. For a super cultural experience you can stay in Soweto itself or one of the more traditional tourist suburbs in Joburg.
The Victoria Falls Marathon
Just the name should indicate why this marathon is on many a runner’s bucket list. The falls are one of Zimbabwe’s most popular tourist destinations and they make for an incredibly scenic running route. The route starts in Victoria Falls (the town) and takes runners across the famous Victoria Falls Bridge, with its accompanying view of the falls, into Zambia for a brief stint before crossing back over into Zimbabwe along simple roads which wind in and out the bush. Accommodation for the race is conveniently located in Victoria Falls (the town) itself.
The Two Oceans Marathon
The Two Oceans Marathon is a world famous event run over the Easter weekend each year. Taking runners around the Cape peninsula, it is one of the most scenic and simultaneously gruelling runs on the marathon calendar. With plenty of stiff up hills, often it is little more than the sea views which keep runners going. Having completed the race you will no doubt want to relax and luckily there are a wide range of guesthouses, BnB’s, self-catering apartments and hotels in Cape Town to help you do just that.
Travelling comes in many guises and sometimes a big sporting event is a great excuse to get out and explore. These African marathons certainly are!
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