The Authentic Athens Marathon 2019

By Alan Brunsdon

On Thursday 7 November 2019, our group of three runners set off to run the “Authentic Athens Marathon” in Greece. The Stella contingent of the group was Alan Brunsdon and Roger Scholtz.

The event commemorated and retraced the “original” marathon when, according to legend, a Greek soldier by the name of Pheidippides, in 490 BC, ran the 42 kms from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the news of a great military victory over the Persians. According to legend when he arrived in Athens and announced the victory he promptly died of exhaustion – a feeling I can relate closely to!!

The event included a family run, 10km and the marathon which attracted 60 000 entrants from 110 countries, of which there were more than 100 South Africans!

We flew Emirates Airlines from Durban via Dubai to Athens. The race registration and expo was extremely well organized, as was the entire race.

On the Saturday before the race we did the tourist routine of visiting the Parthenon and Acropolis – this was the right option as we thought it best to do the walking whilst we still could! The sights and history of Athens go back centuries and are spectacular.

Race day arrived on Sunday together with cool cloudy conditions and temperatures of 21 degrees. There were five different collection points throughout the city of Athens that would take the 20 000 runners to the start of the marathon in Marathon. We arrived at our collection point, conveniently close to our Airbnb accommodation, at 06:00 to find numerous luxury buses waiting to take us to the start. We boarded very quickly and en-route a recording played through the bus PA giving us clear instructions as to what to expect on arrival at the start.

The starting area was well laid out with different coloured balloons marking the different starting batches etc. My starting batch as per my bib was purple – so all I had to find were the purple balloons! The race is run mat to mat so I set off at 09:28 while the front runners started at 09:00.

The first 5 kms were pretty easy but from there till 31 kms it was literally all uphill – a tough course! The water stations were very well stocked with drinks, dark chocolates and energy bars. The vibe on the road was great and crowd support good with the locals calling me “Bravo Bravo” even though my name was on my bib! Running in the South African flag colours certainly helps with crowd support and interaction with other runners. My SA flag running shorts earned the name ‘Faf shorts’ from many of the South Africans on the race!

The last 11 kms into Athens was a gentle downhill with lots of crowd support. The finish was into Panathenaic Stadium, the white marble stadium where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. I finished in 5:58 even though the cut off was a generous 8 hours.

We returned home after a memorable Athens experience – definitely a marathon for the bucket list!

Cape Town City Marathon

Dr Anver Goga

The Cape Town Marathon is normally held on the Sunday closest to Heritage day in September and this year Heritage day falling on Monday was ideal to recover.

The Cape Town Marathon in its current format only started in 2007. Sanlam became the major sponsors in 2014 and a partnership was formed with the City of Cape Town, Western Province Athletics and ASEM Running (Elana Meyer + Francois Pienaar).

The event incorporates a 10km run together with a trail run (12km + 22km). The marathon was accredited with IAAF Silver status in 2014, 2015, 2016 and Gold status in 2017 (first African marathon to achieve IAAF Gold Status). Only 28 marathons worldwide have this status and this year the Cape Town Marathon is aiming to achieve PLATINUM STATUS – This is the ultimate marathon status and by all accounts it certainly deserves this accolade. Only 8 marathons worldwide have this status.

Having run many marathons locally and worldwide, the Cape Town Marathon is hard to fault at any level. Its registration and expo held at Century City had ample parking, no waiting, fine food and a lovely atmosphere. Top quality T shirt provided by ASICS, one of the many sponsors.

The race starts and ends on the Waterfront, again with ample parking, accommodation and security. The course is easy and very picturesque with outstanding tables, crowd support and marshalling. It is initially run next to the ocean for the first 6km and gradually gently ascends to the Newlands and Rondebosch suburbs via the city. Return is a gentle fast descent to the Waterfront. For a PB, atmosphere, organization this is a highly recommended marathon to do.

Persevering through my first marathon: The Deloitte Challenge

By: Bongeka Cele


I loved my first marathon. I went into it with an injury (which was not a good idea, it was awful), but I really wanted to run, and I don’t regret it. Even though I was still elevating and rubbing and stretching over a week later.

I started feeling pain early on, before the 10km mark even, but I had told myself that no matter what, I was going to finish. Once that decision was made, although I was in a lot of pain for most of the race, I really enjoyed it.

The race was eventful and fun! There were the stunning views along the way, which I took in. The weather was amazing, and I loved the little bit of rain that come down along the way. There was also the confusion around which bus was the real sub 5 bus, because the 4:30 bus was lagging behind! Lots of laughs, cheering and random conversation. I think though, one of the most enjoyable parts of the race is running with people you know! The first 18-19kms or so, I ran with some awesome people from the club. Marie-Claire, Kwenza and Mbongeni really made that part of the race awesome.

At some point obviously, my knee eventually started to really affect me, and I had to slow down considerably at around kilometre 25.I don’t really remember much between the 25km and 32km marks, except cramping and a lot of pain. But then I hit the 10km-to-go mark and I told myself home-stretch. That was hard, the whole time I kept thinking, this is crazy, why am I still doing this? I should just stop running!

But I couldn’t. I couldn’t stop running because in my mind, I was GOING to finish! That was the agreement I had with my legs, my body, my heart and my mind! I’m pretty sure I looked crazy giving myself pep talks in that last stretch. But that’s what needed to happen. And I wasn’t alone either. There were so many people along the route in the last 10km who were walking, hobbling, limping and mumbling like me. But the determination to finish was intense. Medics would stop, and they would be waved off with “I’m fine thanks, I just need to stretch it out”. That was cool. I loved the fact that at the end it was a few people, in pain or not, just wanting to finish. I didn’t get my sub 5 this year, but next year, I’ll smash it!!!

Running like a man-possessed. Deloitte Marathon 2018

By: David Mohale

Deloitte 2018.JPG

On Sunday, 18 March 2018, I ran my 4th marathon since I joined the multitudes of people I used to think are mad. It was my first marathon in 2018, given that I had to pull out of Hillcrest Marathon due to a bad injury. I had not had a long run since that fateful rainy and cold Sunday. It is somewhat an oxymoron, therefore, that with this background, I managed to snatch my PB at 3:40:40. And I must hasten to point out that this was my goal going into this marathon, given that my previous PB was 3:50, achieved at a more difficult Township-Township Marathon last October.

Few things made this possible. Firstly, the weather was great on the day. Secondly, although I had not run the route before, I knew it from my travels up north Durban every now and then. I had a better sense of what to expect. In my first few races, I made a mistake of always starting the race in the middle or towards the back of the pack. In big fields like the one we had on Sunday, that is self-defeating…counter-productive if you like. You easily lose 2-3 kilometres still trying to find your space to run comfortably. That can cost you anything between 12-20 minutes which you will not recover.

In races where seeding is not a requirement, I prefer to be closer to the start line. Once the gun goes off, you sprint like a man possessed until you find your comfortable space to pace yourself. This worked wonderfully for me when I ran Sydenham 32km race. I hope to maintain this moving forward. Be that as it may, Deloitte might have given me my PB; but it was also a horrible run but with take-home key lessons. I started like a house on fire precisely because I had doubts about the injury. It took me 12 minutes to cover the first 3 kilometres. 30 minutes into the race, I had covered 7 kilometres. This average continued for the next 30 minutes, at which I sat comfortably at 14km in 60 minutes. I reached halfway mark at 1:35. Had other things remained constant, anything below 3:10 was possible.

The start of the second 21km changed the ballgame altogether. I started cramping. I was out of energy. It was at this point that I had to push myself to maintain at least 5:30 a kilometre until the end. This was not be. I was completely out of energy in the last 7 kilometres. I walked almost half the distance, barely managing to run the last kilometre until I found two Stella stars who were running 21km and prodded me to jog towards the finish with them. At this point, you have got to be strong psychologically as the battle is no longer physical. It is not nice when everybody starts to overtake you and they are all looking semi-fresh. You start to doubt yourself, and think the worst about the upcoming races. What was perhaps rather encouraging was to see at least five Stella members passing me; at that point, you celebrate the brand more than the individual glory.

After my injury at the Hilcrest Marathon, I took about two week’s break from running in accordance with the advice I got from Dr Grant Matkovich, my useful and friendly Chiropractor since I started with the madness of running (thanks to Linda Mabika for recommendation). Because I sustained the injury shortly after training with the legendary Prodigal Khumalo on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I had to explain my absence from his sessions lest he thinks of me as a truant boy.

At that time my injury was a confluence of excruciating tummy muscles and the groin. Prodigal advised that I should continue jogging in order to accelerate groin recovery. This left me confused, and I guess that running generally leaves athletes with confusion. There is always an over-supply of advice, from training techniques, and nutrition versus supplements, to what sneakers one should have, and which watch is best for what information. I received two contradictory pieces of advice from the two experts, of course, each focusing on what they considered important. What do I do? I did both; I moderated my jogging and ensured that I had enough rest before I could start with serious training.

I started with lonely longer jogs about two weeks leading to the Deloitte Challenge. I must confess that part of the reasons I jogged alone was that I started to panic that I would not be ready. Psychologically, simple talks with colleagues about the forthcoming race could be torturous. I could still feel discomfort each time I jogged or stretched. For a moment, I thought I was always right that running is not for rational people. But what do you do when addiction has taken over rationality? What is even worse is to hear seasoned runners telling you that you learn to run with ‘niggles’. As if that is not enough, you keep counting days towards your first Comrades Marathon and feel depressed with each hour you are losing.

I joined some Stella Stars on Saturday morning for the 25km long run the weekend before the Deloitte Challenge. During and after the run, I felt that I was not ready for 42km, although discomfort had eased significantly. On Sunday, 11 March 2018, I had to get myself out of the comfort of my bed that morning to run a long, lonely run of 34km to the top of Cowies Hill. It was after this Sunday long run that I knew my 3:40 finish was possible.

Before the injury, I had two back-to-back amazing runs, PDAC 25km and Sydenham 32km. I was particularly pleased with my achievement for the hilly Sydenham race as I finished it in less than 3 hours, averaging 4:57 a kilometre. It was in that race that I saw the results of Prodigal’s training sessions. And I knew from that day that I was definitely going to improve my previous PB of 3:50. So, credit to Prodigal and Stella colleagues I normally run with.

Since this is my first article in the Stella Newsletter, perhaps it behoves me to take this opportunity to heartily thank all Stella members for an awesome welcome they gave me towards the end of last year when I joined. Admittedly, it may be unfair to single out individuals but some few names deserve a mention. For instance, Pat Freeman went out of her way to get my membership transferred from my old club in the Free State. She also gave me a million dollar advice on the impact of altitude when I prepared for my first marathon in September in Vaal last year. I am not too sure if I must thank her and Louise for trapping me to register for 2018 Comrades Marathon though! (Pun intended). Amanda, Kevin and Tawanda and the forever effervescent Nana made it easy for a shy me to feel welcome.

Indeed, I am now fully positively mad because of the company of Stella stars. With many more months and years spent in the Club, I am looking forward to many more personal records. As I always say, it is not what we achieve that matters. But it is our ability to sustain and continuously better our previous records that matters. That’s called character. Excellence is not, and cannot, be a function of fluke. It is intentional. It goes back to two simple statements: Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO) or its direct opposite: Perfect Practice Makes Perfect (PPMP). For my remaining years in Stella, I personally hope to be in the latter. For this reason, excuse me for not celebrating my current PB; my eyes are set on what I need to achieve next to better the past.

Hillcrest Marathon 2018

By: Travis Graham

I woke to the sound of drizzle at a quarter past TOO EARLY on the morning of Sunday the 11th February. Like many of my fellow participants, it was at that vulnerable moment that I was forced to wage an inner war against my shameful desire to slam the snooze button. Luckily on that day, the little common sense I have did prevail.  After first wolfing down a bowl of Jungle Oats, and then lubing, tubing, picking and sticking a variety of odd body parts, I was off into the progressively worsening rain in the direction of, the then still dark, Hillcrest.

At the intersection of Old Main and Inanda Roads, I was pleased to find that the rain hadn’t deterred many, or even dampened the usual lively spirit. A many hundred, if not thousand, strong field waited in anticipation. The Hillcrest Marathon, is a well-established local event that attracts many due to its key timing in the annual race calendar – it serves as an official qualifier for both the Comrades Marathon and the Two Oceans Marathon.

The double-lapper marathon route can, in essence, be divided into distinct quarters. Quarters 1 and 3, predominantly downhill through leafy Winston Park, and quarters 2 and 4, predominantly uphill on the way back to Hillcrest town center. The start of the run, although congested, went off without a glitch. The large field had plenty of space to regain order on its way down Old Main Road past the old Heritage Market. As we entered Winston Park, passing family supporters and local residents who had set up temporary camp outside their houses, I was filled with short-lived elation – “could running getting any better than this?”

Surprisingly for me, this happiness lasted throughout quarter 2, in spite of some sharp uphills (many of you will know the exact NASTIES I am referring to). I passed my own posse of family supporters at the Engen garage on Old Main Road, remembering to don the poses of some Kenyan or Ethopian marathon great, just in case they had their Instagrams on warm-up. A warm hug but no photography ensued. After munching on a fruit bar whilst nearing the halfway point, I rounded the Hillcrest corner at 21km for the start of the second trot down toward Winston Park.

Luckily, quarter 3’s downhills were sympathetic to my tiring sticks. I was able to bank some time with a quicker-than-planned quarter. This margin gain would soon prove critical as my legs, very quickly, began to shout like the EFF used to in parliament – pre Cyril.  No ‘honourable members’ these! At the end of the first quarter, I rounded the beaconed hairpin bend like a light-footed gazelle. This time around I was more like a Maersk oil tanker – I even saw the Marshall take a step back as I approached as she clearly feared being taken out.

The marathon’s new catchphrase, #Whatthehill, took on new gravitas as I dragged my legs (read: concrete) up the last hilly 11km stretch. I had to dig deep, like past the remaining oats deep! I eventually made it back up onto Old Main road. I passed my posse looking like Timothy Traddle – somehow this time, amazingly, they all had their Instagram’s in full force as I waddled by! I continued, gritted teeth, for the last 2km to the finish.

I crossed the finish line utterly exhausted and ravenous, but ecstatic to have my Ultra qualifiers under my belt, to be greeted by a warm Stella welcome and at the smell of some wicked brekkie buns!

Was it all worth it? …..HILL yeah!

Bluff Marathon 2017

By: Mark Rai

Mark Bluff Marathon

No sooner after crossing the finish line of Goss & Balfe South Coast marathon, my running mate Engelbert and I decided to run Bluff Marathon to hopefully better our time. What could be more difficult than the marathon we just ran? We were still marathon fit with Bluffs being two weeks away, there was sufficient time to rest and recover. Having never done this race before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I remembered looking at the route profile the night before and noticed the elevation. I knew it would be a difficult, hilly double-lapper. Sometimes ignorance is bliss!

Representing Stella, there was a few walkers, half-marathon runners and handful of marathon runners. The weather conditions were not ideal with a strong north-easterly wind blowing. We can’t control weather conditions on race day, so it’s best to try and train in all types of conditions. The 3H’s (howling wind, heat and hills) would definitely be a factor in the race. Bertie and I had an agreement at the start of the race that whoever was feeling stronger between the two of us would keep going. The race started at 5:30 at Fynnland sports grounds. Before I knew it we were off, and running straight into a strong headwind along a flat Lighthouse rd for a km or so before turning into Marine Drive to begin an uphill climb of 1½ kms to the military base. ‘We barely started running and the hills are already coming to us,’ I silently moaned. Marine Drive is ±9kms long with undulating hills and stunning sea views. From here on we were fortunate enough to have a tailwind and we settled into our rhythm. The refreshment tables were great with coke, water, oranges, litchi juice sachets, biscuits and sweets on offer. We took in fluids early as it was already getting hot. From 10-12km’s was easy downhill running along Engen Refinery. Running into a strong headwind along a flat Tara Rd for 4kms before passing Bluff Nature Reserve, we were still feeling great.

The 16-20km mark is a tough part of the course with mostly uphill running to the top of Bluff Rd. We ran up all the way to the bluff tower on the right with ease, before breezing through halfway in a time of 1hr52mins. We even joked that we could end up finishing 1st & 2nd for the very first time for Stella! (due to the fact that so few runners from Stella were doing the marathon). We were on track for our goal of a sub 4 finish. Things can change so quickly when you running. Not long after passing halfway and running up to the military base for the second time, I knew that I was in for a tough second half. Running along the slow poison hills of Marine drive at the 25km mark, I started to feel tired and subsequently dropped my pace. I knew I ran the first half slightly faster than I had planned and was paying the price .Bertie looked strong and kept going. I stopped at a water table to re-fuel and took two Rehidrat’s hoping it would give me a much needed boost. The short hills along Marine Drive seem never ending and are energy sapping. Recovery is quick but before you know it there’s another hill waiting. I passed 30km’s in a time of 2hrs46mins. It was a welcome relief running down Marine Drive for a final time and then along Tara rd. I just put my head down and focused on my running strides as the wind was slowing me down. At 32km’s I glanced at my watch, 2hrs59mins of running. I just had over an hour to run 10kms for sub 4 finish, that meant no walking and I still had to run up Bluff Rd! I was still in with a chance, a very tough one albeit!

At 36km mark I caught up to Bertie at Bluff Nature Reserve. I was a little sore and dehydrated with the conditions definitely getting the better of us on the day! 40kms down with a time of 3hrs 54mins, a sub 4 finish seemed so distant. Chasing down a time now was always going to be a difficult task especially when you don’t have much left in the tank. We walked for the most part all the way up to Bluff Rd, trying to encourage each other. When we crested the top of Bluff Rd by Spar, I grabbed a welcoming drink at a table before heading off for the final straight. From here to the finish was easy downhill running. Entering the field, we were cheered on by Sandy and Michael, finishing in a time of 4hrs09mins. I wasn’t too concerned about not achieving my target time, just a sense of relief that we finished. There are no easy marathons. Thanks again to Sandy for saving us at the end by getting us cold coke and a cream soda.  Bluff Marathon was a tough, challenging course but a well organised race. No more running marathons for me this year. I’ll definitely take a much needed break and probably focus on shorter runs.

South Coast Marathon – Lessons from a fellow mortal

By: Tawanda Vakisai



Build your base

The South Coast Marathon has always had a special place in my heart. This is where I achieved my first sub-2 half marathon and my first sub-4 marathon. I set my sights on running another sub-4 marathon this year. Although I have had good luck on the two occasions I ran the South Coast, I knew this alone was not going to be enough to have a comfortable run or get the result I was after.  One of the tips I was given in my early running days was to ensure my total mileage for the week is at least equivalent to the race distance I will be training for. I was also warned the mileage goals increase as the performance goals increase. We are fortunate at Stella to have organised runs during the week and a longer run on the Saturday. These were enough to get the minimum mileage required. I have recently also started joining Sandy on her hill training sessions on Wednesdays. These have really boosted my fatigue resistance and I encourage everyone to join.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing 

I normally treat myself to a massage after some hard work before the race. Unfortunately for me, I could not get an appointment on the days I wanted to go. When I shared this with my wife, she reminded me I had invested in a foam roller as a more cost-effective alternative to sports massages. I tried to get on to the foam roller but just could not bear the pain when I tried to foam roll my ITB.  After having a few laughs at how much I was struggling, my wife offered to massage me. I have previously shared with her YoutTube videos on massage techniques and “volunteered” to be her model so I knew I was in good hands. A few days of this put me in good stead to achieve my goal.


My strategy for the week of the marathon has always been to have one slow run on Tuesday (Wednesday latest) and to maintain a good eating plan. I always struggle with the latter as I am blessed with a very healthy appetite. This saw me having a chip and cheese mutton roti for Friday lunch. I was regretting this decision on Friday evening. Luckily, I had some Rennies at hand to neutralise the situation.

Do not try new things

On Saturday evening, as I prepared for race-day, I was contemplating whether I should use the hydro-pack I had recently purchased for the marathon. Being able to carry my own fuel for the race was such a compelling idea. I had missed my opportunity to try it out during training. It was decided, I would take it with me. What could go wrong? I lay out my kit and everything I needed for the morning, planned my breakfast and was in bed nice and early.

Enjoy it!

We got to the start of the race 1 hour before the scheduled start and after taking a moment to enjoy the beautiful sunrise on the South Coast, we began to get ready. My hydro-pack was suddenly feeling heavier and not as minimalistic as I had imagined. My running mates gave me a look of disapproval as I tried to adjust it to fit more comfortably. I heeded their dirty looks and left it in the car. I was not going to let this get in the way. We made our way to the starting line and met other fellow Stella Runners there. We all shared our goals for the day as we waited for the gun. The sun was already out and we could see it was going to get warm. There was also promise of headwinds so it looked like we had a real challenge ahead of us.

With the bang of the gun, the runners burst into full flight. My immediate mission was to get over the first 10 in under 1 hour. I still remembered how tough the race was at the end so I planned early on not to do too much in the beginning. Holding back was going to be key. I made it comfortably over the 10km mark in just over 55 minutes.  The next mission was to get over the 21km mark at about 1:55. The route was so beautiful at this point it took your mind off the running with the gentle breeze helping to keep us cool. This however took a turn just after the 20km mark as we were now facing the head wind earlier promised. The hill sessions immediately came to mind.  If I had conquered the hills of Howard Road, the wind was going to come out second best. I self-talked myself through the wind and got over 21km one minute faster than planned. At this point, we were now more exposed to the scorching heat. My left calf was starting to feel a bit tight. One of the most useful tips I have adopted is from an article Dr Grant Matkovitch wrote earlier this year. He advised that “if a muscle is causing pain and tightness whilst you are running, consider taking 3 minutes out of your run/race to stretch the muscle on the side of the road”. I decided I would take some time off on the next water stop to stretch and recover.

While I was down stretching the sub-4hr bus passed. I looked at the time and still backed myself to stick to the plan. Once the stretching and re-hydration was done, I was back on the road with a new lease on life. I caught up to the sub-4 bus at the 27km mark. I was feeling very strong at this point and thought I should pass the bus as they would probably slow me down. I looked at the clock and we were still ahead of time. A little voice told me to hold back. I stuck with the bus up until 32km. I knew at this point that there will probably be less running after 35km so decided to leave the bus and increase the pace a little. I got to 35km and I was still feeling strong. I was happy going up the hills and felt all the training had paid off both mentally and physically. The moment I got on to the grass, I knew the mission had been accomplished. I burst towards the finish line, to the cheers of my second family, Stella Athletic Club. Although challenging, this was one of the most enjoyable marathons I have ever run and will definitely go back for more.


Lisbon Marathon – Portugal

By: Alan Brunsdon

On Friday, 13 October 2017, our group of six runners set off to run the Lisbon Marathon in Portugal. The Stella contingent of the group was Alan Brunsdon, Roger Scholtz and The Butcher (Peter Limbouris). We flew from Johannesburg via Luanda to Lisbon with Air Angola, a return ticket costing R 3800! To our surprise, we found that the experience with Air Angola was a pleasant and enjoyable one – planes are new with Portuguese pilots, have inflight entertainment, good food and cold beers! The stopover in Luanda for 4 hours was uneventful except for the Butcher explaining to the immigrations officer that Cyprus was part of the EU and he did not need a visa for Portugal!

We arrived in Lisbon at around 7 in the morning to a bustling clean airport and easily cleared immigration etc. We then took the underground which is efficient and serves most of the city ( Lisbon only has a population of 500,000 people! ) to our AirBnB accommodation where we dropped off our luggage. We then proceeded to the race registration centre to collect goodie bags etc  – the race entry was 40 euro. The queues were long but the atmosphere festive. A total of 35,000 athletes participated in a 10 km, 21.1 km and the 42.2 km marathon.

Race day arrived on Sunday together with blistering temperatures of 31 degrees – the weather all week had been max 21 degrees! To get to the start we needed to take free transport on the train to a resort town Cascaisi which was 30 km outside of Lisbon on the Atlantic coast. The train was filled with athletes and our South African running outfits were rather distinctive! On arrival at the seaside resort we lined up with 5,000 athletes to loud music and a carnival type atmosphere. The marathon is part of the Rock ‘n Roll series, so music and bands along the route were the order of the day.

Initially the course did  a loop through the town before heading back to Lisbon alongside the coast. It was flat and similar to running Two Oceans going through Hout Bay etc. The scenery was lovely, the  water tables well-stocked, and there were bands every 2.5 km along the route, encouraging us to press on. The organisation of the race was excellent and running in the South African flag colours certainly helps with crowd support and interaction with other runners. The last 10 km were hard work as it was hot and flat – we all had to dig deep! We finished in the main square in the centre of Lisbon called the Terreiro do Paco. We received a serious size medal and refreshments at the end – we were also finished! My time was slower than hoped but I will take the finish – 5:47 being the 13th South African across the finishing line.

Fortunately our accommodation was within walking distance of the finish and the afternoon was spent relaxing before spending the evening recounting war stories at a nice restaurant on the main square.

Over the next few days, we visited some of the historic sites in Lisbon from the St George’s Castle, Christ the King statue and Jeronimos Monastery. The cost of living is slightly more than in South Africa but it is relatively cheap compared to European prices. We discovered pasteis de Nata – the legendary custard tarts!

We managed to get tickets to a UEFA Champions Cup football game between Benfica and Manchester United at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon. It was an amazing experience to be part of a 57,000 spectator crowd.

We returned home after a memorable Lisbon experience.

Sanlam Cape Town City Marathon 2017

By: Pat Freeman


I was thrilled to have an opportunity to run a “big City marathon” again, even though this one has been around for 10 years in various forms and ever growing, I had never run it! This year the Event was upgraded to an IAAF Gold Label Status, the only marathon to have this status in Africa!

What this really means is that the organisers have met certain criteria to host a world class event where athletes from all over the world are invited to compete against each other, and to encourage our own SA athletes to improve their marathon times accordingly. The weekend comprised of a number of events other than the marathon and a host of celebrities were also encouraged to take part.

The date chosen for this marathon is always “September” and as near as possible to heritage day to encompass the “heritage” theme by taking the runners around the history and beauty of Cape Town on foot – a pleasantly “flatish” course!

On my arrival in Cape Town on Saturday, I was met by the Cape Doctor! Shoo! the wind was pumping – I heard that the Expo/Registration had closed early the night before due to concerns of the huge tents taking flight! However, I successfully registered, received a beautiful tshirt & wondered around a mini expo that was situated on Granger Bay between the waterfront and the Greenpoint stadium.

Roll on race day! As part of the race perks, Uber trips to and from the start of the Marathon were free! So I arrived to my Gold Label race in a taxi! What a perfect day was ordered for the race! Too beautiful, which made the race seem easier! (it was a trick!) The streets were clean and scenery breathtaking – despite the water shortage in the Cape, the seconding provided was very good.

We ran out towards Sea Point, back towards the City Bowl and up Long Street right to the Mt Nelson Hotel, which looked spectacular against the mountain (If I could have breathed I would have taken some pictures). Back down into town and then out towards the southern suburbs of Rosebank, Mowbray and eventually turned at Newlands and did a lap around Rondebosch Common at the halfway mark.

From there we did a bit of a tour of Paarden Island and ran along the Rapid Transport Lane (dedicated bus lane – quite cool), it was so interesting that I forgot I was shattered! Back up into the city again – over a bridge that had been boarded into a ramp for easy running – really lovely, then along a flat area to the finish. I must just mention that it must be noted that I finished ahead of Mr Rugby Captain Francois Pienaar and Mr Cricket Captain Graeme Smith who were at least five minutes behind me!

Pat Freeman