The World’s Most Beautiful Marathon
First run on 2 May 1970 by just 26 runners, The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (or Celtic 35 Mile Road Race as it was first called), now in its 43rd year, has become a nationally and internationally renowned event. This popular event that has transformed into somewhat of a festival, now also includes a half-marathon (in its 15th year), a trail run, a friendship run and fun-runs. Also included in the annual event activities, is the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon Expo, which is held at the Good Hope Centre. Here runners collected their race numbers, purchased last minute gear and supplements and enjoyed exploring the array of stalls on display.
At the expo, young and old, were also encouraged to participate in the Puma Faas Test. Here participants could run on the prepared track and try beat Bolt’s top speed of 44.17 km/h. I gave it a try (dress and all) but didn’t want to embarrass Bolt, so I just jogged the distance. All participants received a cool set of inflatable “Bolt Arms”, which is pre-set in his easily recognizable victory pose. This fun activity caused quite a buzz at the expo, but there was also another topic creating a stir and it had nothing to do with speed. The weatherman had forecast a storm, rain, wind and cold for race day but no-one knew quite what to expect. The Mother City’s weather moods can be quite unpredictable at the best of times and maybe there would just be a drizzle, a light breeze; maybe, just maybe.
Race day arrived and this time it seemed the weatherman would be right on the mark. The sky awoke with a gloomy look on her face and as though she was in no mood for doing anyone any favours. So while many Capetonians lay snuggled under the covers, scores of diligent athletes braved the cold and eagerly congregated on Main Road in the suburb of Newlands, for the start of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon and Half-Marathon. Driving to the start line at 4.30am, we had already spotted many runners covered in black refuse bags and reflective running gear warming up and making their way to the start line.
The half marathon race was fully subscribed with 16,000 runners expected to participate, while just over 9,000 runners would take on the ultra-marathon distance of 56km. The race stage was set, complete with music booming and a lively MC stirring up the athletes, then at 6am the half-marathon runners were sent on their way (along a new route for the first time this year). Later on, at around 6.25am, the ultra-marathon runners made their way down Main Road. The ultra-marathon runners would run along a route that has seen this marathon earning the status of being “the world’s most beautiful marathon”. Passing places like Muizenberg, Fish Hoek, Noordhoek and Chapman’s Peak Drive, it’s easy to understand why.
The rain came down in torrents and the wind joined the party too, but the runners kept going and the spectators kept cheering. Meanwhile, the finish line at the University of Cape Town had been transformed into a mud bath as runners ran, walked, hobbled and crawled to the finish. The half-marathon event was won by local male and female runners Xolisa Tyali and Rene Kalmer, respectively. The main event (56km ultra-marathon) saw the familiar faces of Zimbabwe’s Stephen Muzhingi and Russia’s Elena Nurgalieva, taking the honour of first man and woman home, respectively. After collecting their well-earned medals, shivering runners grit their teeth and then prepared for the walk back down the hill to their cars. Some moaned, some groaned, some cheered, some feared (looking for their transport) but most agreed that it was another successful race and that they would be back next year again. I will be back too, except this time I hope to be donning a race number and joining the half-marathon runners in what has become somewhat of bucket list entry. Maybe you will join me too?
I’m a fun loving, adventure seeking young lady with a zest for life that lives in the beautiful city of Cape Town. I have a Bachelor of Commerce Honours degree and a Postgraduate Diploma in Tourism Management from UCT. I have had the good fortune of travelling and working internationally on a global secondment programme for a large corporate and have had many amazing travelling experiences. I also enjoy travelling locally in our beautiful country South Africa and have taken international students on many travelling experiences across South Africa. I love hiking, most outdoor activities, reading, developing people and especially writing. I believe in the power of taking the road less travelled and in the power of pursuing a purpose filled life.