Two Oceans: Running freely

From 26 participants in 1970, the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon has welcomed over 9,000 runners from all over the world in 2013. Photo: Natalia Flemming

Photo: Natalia Flemming

Over forty years ago, on Saturday 2 May 1970, twenty-six brave runners lined up at Impala Park, Claremont, to face the unknown: 35 miles (56.3 kilometres) of tarred serpetine roads including a section crossing the spectacularly scenic Cape Peninsula from False Bay in the east to Hout Bay in the west. But none of the participants was in it for the win. Back in the days, the race was organized as a mere practice run for Capetonians who were eager to prepare for the Comrades Ultramarathon (56 miles; 87 kilometres), annually held in Durban on South Africa’s east coast. Little did those twenty-six runners know that they were not only warming up the souls of their shoes… they were pioneering the world’s most beautiful race on two feet: the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon!

From 26 participants in 1970, the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon has welcomed over 16,000 athletes from all over the world in 2013.Source: dogreatthings.co.za

Exploding from a handful of participants in 1970, the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon welcomed 26,000 athletes from all over the world in 2013. This aerial view shows the runners heading along Chapman’s Peak Drive toward Hout Bay.
Source: dogreatthings.co.za

Source_doitnow.co.za

At nine o’clock in the morning on Easter Saturday, 30 March 2013, Chapman’s Peak Drive was inundated by bobbing heads and marching soles.
Source: doitnow.co.za

The Old Mutual has come a long way since 1970. With 26,000 entrants, 2013 has set a new record high for the combined 21 km half- and 56 km ultra-marathon. Both races started on Main Road in Newlands, at 6:00 and 6:30 a.m., respectively, and led the runners through Fish Hoek via Muizenberg, over Chapman’s Peak and Constantia Nek, before eventually finishing at the University of Cape Town campus. Most folks were perhaps only slowly waking up to the dawning reality of Easter festivities they would have to face and organise later that day – the children’s Easter egg hunt of Sunday morning being top priority, of course! Meanwhile, there were hundreds of rubber soles restlessly polishing the starting line in the early morning hours as the athletes waited for the start signal with bated breath. And, as the night’s veil lifted, it suddenly resonated through the crisp air, and those colourful takkies thundered off unleashed.

Photo: Natalia Flemming

Photo: Natalia Flemming

It was not until roughly twenty to nine that the first marathoners came running into sight at the foot of Chapman’s Peak Drive, on their way down Main Road through Hout Bay. The next couple of photograhs were taken further along the way, between quarter to nine and half past eleven on Hout Bay Road, before the marathoners headed up and over Constantia Nek for the big finish at UCT.

South African marathon runner David Gatebe, winner of this year's Two Oceans Marathon, was leading the first batch of runners down Hout Bay Road with roughly 20 km to go before finishing at the University of Cape Town.

8:47h. South African (novice!) marathon runner David Gatebe, winner of this year’s Two Oceans Ultra-Marathon, was leading the first batch of runners down Hout Bay Road with roughly 15 km to go before finishing at UCT. He ran the 56 kilometres in 3 hours, 8 minutes and 54 seconds.
Photo: Natalia Flemming

8:49h... breathing down David Gatebe's neck.

8:49h… breathing down David Gatebe’s neck.
Photo: Natalia Flemming

8:56h. The first batch follows David Gatebe down Hout Bay Road.Photo: Natalia Flemming

8:56h. The first batch follows David Gatebe down Hout Bay Road.
Photo: Natalia Flemming

9:06h. Kids volunteering at handing out some water to the thirsty. Photo: Natalia Flemming

9:06h. Kids volunteering at handing out some water to the thirsty.
Photo: Natalia Flemming

9:15h. After having run about 40 km, this chap's not breaking a sweat, but looking a bit doubtful.Photo: Natalia Flemming

9:15h. After a slog of about 40 km, some
facial expressions were more powerful than any words.
Photo: Natalia Flemming

9:17h.

9:17h. Photo: Natalia Flemming

10:44h. Photo: Natalia Flemming

10:44h. Photo: Natalia Flemming

11:28h. Although far from being among the first to finish, this young lady - who had been on the move for over five hours - still had the spirit to give me a huge smile while I took her picture.Photo: Natalia Flemming

11:28h. That’s the spirit! Although among the last of the 26,000 to finish, this
young lady – who had been on the move for over five hours – bears the smile
of a winner. Chapeau!
Photo: Natalia Flemming

To all the entrants, to those who won and to those who finished last or even not at all: Congrats folks! It can take more courage to end somehting than to start it. See ya around next year for the 45th annual Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. There’s a reason why it’s called the world’s most beautiful marathon – some say it’s because of the epic scenery and landscapes. But I say, last but not least, this is thanks to the spirit of its participants!

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One response to “Two Oceans: Running freely

  1. I much enjoyed this story, after having followed the Two Oceans 2013 via internet … yes, this is undoubtedly the most awe-inspiring of all marathons worldwide. Congratulations to all, “hat off” to the organisers, and “keep it up” to the hundreds of Capetonians lining the route and supporting the runners.

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