This past weekend I took part in the Dischem Marathon (21km event) held in Bedfordview (Johannesburg). This was my third half marathon and I guess I was somewhat spoilt by running my first ever event in the Masai Mara Conservancy in October last year (check out my trip report and video here). Since I will be hosting our Masai Mara Marathon & great Migration Safari later this year i thought it would be a good idea to give those of you who might have participated in the Dischem event an idea of what to expect in the Masai mara half marathon.
1) The Scenery:
Whilst Bedfordview is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and affluent suburbs on the east of Johannesburg, nothing quite compares to the open, rolling grasslands of the Masai Mara. The 21km course in the Mara conservancy provides runners with the opportunity to see the migratory herds of zebra and wildebeest, Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelle, giraffe and a variety of other game species. This does include predators such as lion and cheetah which brings me to my next point…
2) The Marshals:
The Marshals on Saturdays race were awesome – directing traffic, encouraging the runners and making sure that the course was kept safe at all times. The Marshals in Kenya are slightly different though. The 21km course is punctuated by kenyan Defence Force guards, armed with rifles to ensure that no wild animals come between you and that finish line.
In all honesty you have nothing to worry about, Kenya’s famous elite long distance runners clear the course in under an hour and, accompanied by the various race officials and camera crew on motorbikes, ensure that there is no predator activity in the area.
3) The Scale:
This year’s Dischem event was a massive success with more than 6 000 runners taking part. The Masai mara Marathon is a much smaller event – at least the 21km event is – with around 200 athletes competing. The 5km fun run on the other hand is a massive event as all of the local school children and various headline sponsors enter into this event. It was amazing to see the school kids running in full school uniform – school shoes and all!
4) Running Surface:
Bedfordview’s roads are of the finest quality – so it makes perfect sense why there are so many four wheel drive vehicles in this suburb 😉
The Masai mara on the other hand doesnt have any black top roads. The 21km course follows a game drive track through the open grasslands and is more of a trail run that a traditional road race.
5) Post Race Recovery:
I felt pretty good after the Dischem event but was still very relieved to spend most of the day recovering on my couch. Couldn’t get any better? Well how about this for a post race recovery venue?
The Wild Eye Mara Camp is located on the banks of the Mara River, putting you in what is arguably THE best position to witness this:
Okay so this blog is a bit tongue in cheek but the entire team that organised the Dischem event yesterday deserve a pat on the back. From my side, absolutely every aspect of the event ran smoothly. From the collection of the awesome goody bags and race numbers right through to parking on the day of the event. Well done guys!
I am very much looking forward to returning to Kenya for the next Masai Mara Marathon which takes place on the 16th of August this year. I will be hosting a group of 12 guests as we spend a week experiencing the great migration and the Masai mara in all its glory before taking to the trail and running 21km’s under what must be the largest skies Africa has to offer!
Keen to join me? Check out the safari package here and can also see the full trip report from last year’s event here as well as our collection of top 100 images form last years migration safaris here.
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