The world’s most beautiful race is a mere three weeks and four days away, and the anticipation among hopeful participants is palpable.
Entrance into the Two Oceans Marathon (TOM) has become a race in itself. The entry process for the half marathon is a ballot system – athletes wait for their name to be chosen. This is in keeping with international best practice used for the New York and London marathons.
With less than a month to go, we asked a novice and a ‘blue number’ (runners who have completed 10 or more ultramarathons) to tell us where they are at in terms of training and how prepared they are.
Rodney Daniels (51), from Kirstenhof, has a lot of mileage in his legs, at least 3 271,4 km, having run 70 marathons, which includes 13 TOM, 7 Comrades, the Barcelona Marathon and Kosice Marathon in Slovakia. To put into perspective, imagine running from The Grand Central Parade, Cape Town to Polokwane or to Gaborone, Botswana and back to Cape Town.
Daniels who only started serious running in 2001 says, “I run because I know how to (laughs) but mainly because I love the sport and the benefits of improving health conditioning.” Due to an injury, Daniels has only been doing 90-110 km per week, with his route starting in the Meadowridge area, through the heavy Tokai and Constantia. Apart from his 3 to 4 days a week club training, he also trains 4 times a week on his own, preparing for TOM on 31 March and Comrades on 10 June. Daniels says he enjoys running for social reasons as well.
A novice to the TOM race, Malcolm Freedman (40), from Constantia has recently started focusing his energy on long-distance running. “I have been running middle distances, 15 to 20km, on and off since I was in high school and have been alternating between running and cycling.”
Freedman, who trains twice a week with his club, K-Way VOB also gets in a swim once a week and trains with a Biokineticist twice a week. It seems like running is not that simple. “We are running longer distances on weekends and 5 to 10km during the week.” At this point, with 3 weeks to go, Freedman says he feels reasonably comfortable with his level of physical fitness to complete the Ultra within the 7-hour time limit.
Dedication is the key – whether you’re a novice to the Ultra or have 70 marathons to show. “I run because I love testing my physical and mental boundaries. I enjoy the social aspect of running and supporting each other when the going gets tough as I love motivating people to do their best.”
The Two Ocean Marathon was first held in 1970 and saw 26 runners line up to face the unknown challenge. Since then, the race has become a national institution and a firm favourite with local and international athletes, attracting approximately 26 000 participants across all the distances and providing them with a mixture of breathtaking scenery, a gruelling test of fitness, world-class organisation and an unrivalled atmosphere.