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SSouth Africa, as host of some of the world’s greatest marathons, offers runners all over the world the perfect excuse for a busman’s holiday: if you come out here to experience one of these legendary runs, you can enjoy the experience of a lifetime as you recover afterwards.
Five of South Africa’s annual races worth considering are the Comrades Marathon, the Two Oceans Marathon, the Knysna Forest Marathon, the Cape Town Marathon and the Forever Loskop Marathon.
The Comrades generally takes place in June each year. The 90km race (strictly speaking an ultra marathon), which was first held in 1921, is run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, with the starting city alternating each year.
In June (early winter), the province of KwaZulu-Natal typically enjoys its most comfortable conditions of the year: warm without being too humid, with little chance of rain.
The Two Oceans Marathon is held on the first weekend of April. Popularly known as ‘the world’s most beautiful marathon’, this 56km race starts and finishes in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, taking runners around the spectacular Cape Peninsula and along scenic stretches such as Chapman’s Peak.
There is also a 21km half-marathon for those who prefer shorter runs.
The 50km Forever Loskop Marathon in Mpumalanga is generally held within 3 weeks of the Two Oceans Marathon, so if you’re keen to complete 2 marathons in South Africa in 1 trip, this may be a good combination to consider.
The 42km Knysna Forest Marathon is held in July every year and is known for its beautiful starting point inside the famous southern Cape forest. This race is limited to around 800 runners because of logistics, so it’s important to book your spot well in advance if you are interested.
The 42km Cape Town Marathon in September gives runners a chance to enjoy some fresh spring air and qualify for more popular marathons, such as the Comrades.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Where to stay
The areas in which these marathons are run offer plenty of B&Bs and hotels. However, start searching for accommodation as soon as you’ve decided to enter a marathon, as demand for that particular period (especially the Comrades, if it’s a year in which the race starts in Pietermaritzburg) will be high.