The Om die Dam ultra-marathon literally means 'around the dam'. The route takes runners through a tunnel, over the Hartbeespoort Dam wall and up a few challenging hills. The scenery here is really beautiful, so make the most of the setting while enjoying your run.

Did you know?

Commando's Neck has a fascinating Anglo-Boer War history involving famous Boer leader General De La Rey.

The Om die Dam ultra-marathon is a popular late summer 50-kilometre run in March each year around Hartbeespoort Dam in the North West province of South Africa.

Hartbeestpoort, or 'Harties' as it is affectionately known, is a pleasant drive about an hour from both Johannesburg and Pretoria.

This part of the world enjoys characteristically high temperatures, but this marathon in the North West always includes water tables groaning with fruit, ice lollies, liquid in many forms and even little boerewors (spiced sausage) rolls for the famished.

Hartbeespoort Dam has, over the past decade, reinvented itself as a South Africanl 'Riviera', complete with upmarket developments, golf estates and yachting marinas.

The Om die Dam ultra-marathon begins in the town of Hartbeespoort and continues through the old dam tunnel onto the dam wall itself. Then come the hills, and if you haven't done some serious incline training for this event, stages like Commando Neck are going to feel murderous.

More than 7 000 runners from all over South Africa and beyond take to the road on this scenic Hartbeespoort Dam marathon and they are seldom out of sight of its glistening waters.

The next stage takes runners past the village of Broederstroom – home to artists, country musicians and arty types – to Pelindaba, once a nuclear research centre. It is here that the famous Om die Dam catering tables come into their own, to the obvious relief of the participants.

At Saartjiesnek, 38km on, runners might reasonably assume that the back of the race has been broken, but there are still two infamous kilometres of killer hill to be negotiated. Beat the climb of Saartjiesnek, and the final 10km is plain sailing.

On the day a 21-km half-marathon, 10km and 5km fun runs and charity walks are held in the vicinity. A generally festive atmosphere and summer weather make this event an annual drawcard for participants and their families.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

How to get here

Hartbeespoort Dam is an easy hour's drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria.

Best time to visit

This ultra-marathon is run in March each year.

Tours to do

There is lots to do in this area. Go up the Harties Cableway, or visit the De Wildt Cheetah Sanctuary, Elephant Sanctuary and Monkey Sanctuary and some fine country restaurants, all nearby. Or a little further afield, visit Sun City, the Pilanesberg Game Reserve or the Madikwe Game Reserve.

Length of stay

Hartbeespoort is one of South Africa's watersports playgrounds, with yachting, swimming, fishing and skiing among activities to be enjoyed here.

Where to stay

There are plenty of charming guesthouses and B&Bs in the Hartbeespoort area, but be sure to book well in advance.

Best buys

There are plenty of arts and crafts sold at roadside stalls in the area, and prices are competitive.