Ottosdal Night Marathon

This past weekend we headed to Ottosdal, circa 3.5 hours outside of Johannesburg, for the weekend. We stayed on a farm, free of charge, with the most hospitable couple known to man, Bennie & Ansie. It was like going back in time making me realise that I'm a soft city boy. We were welcomed with a braai on the farm and introduced to the friends of the family. Above is the picture of Benny's dad who started the farm after World War II where he fought in South Africa's campaign in Egypt. Afrikaans and English intermingled as we made ourselves understood. Classic phrases which we picked up over the weekend:
  • "hy het 'n kom-moer-my gesig" = "he had a come-hit-me face"
  • "ramparty" = "stag party"

Below are some of the collector's items, rugby greats on whiskey bottles:

I found an old South African flag on some of the hundred patches which Benny has collected over the years. Looked to me more like a collector's historical item than a political stance. In the pub, there was an authentic old South African flag alongside that of Che Guevara. Anyone who knows recent South African history would find the juxtaposition pretty humorous.

There was more horizon around Ottosdal than most city folk get to see in a lifetime. It liberates the soul and frees up the mind.

The Ottosdal marathon is run by the local church. Every year the settlement (poor chaps don't even get to be called a town) has a sporting festival which lasts the weekend. Cycling and running races with a market offering an array of different food and products. Everyone from the neighbouring farms comes to help. Alberto & I even got our heads shaved in support for Cancer. The chap on the left was a farmer. His chirp which made our day was: "Don't expect perfection, because I'm a boer not a barber."

Local sponsorship was organised by a lot of the farming co-operatives and companies. Dekalb mielies (corn) was one of the main sponsors. "The proof is in the corn".

As the sun set, a couple of thousand runners gathered for the night marathon. 21k's out of town as the sun turned the sky pink and orange, turn around and find yourself guided back to the stadium by lanterns in the middle of the road. As dusk enveloped us, we struggled to find the sweet spot on our running feet. The darkness soon lifted as a million stars slowly upped their power and filled the night sky. More stars than you've ever seen in your life. Breathtaking.

1st 10 k's in 54 mins, 2nd & 3rd in 53 mins, last 10k's in 61 mins. Total was 3.57 with an average heart rate of 141 and a maximum of 158. The wheels started to wobble at 35k's, mainly due to lack of mileage, so we switched off the engines and coasted in, trying to save the suspension for another day. Biggest run before this had been the 21k for the Bedfordview Helpers Run on Jan 9th, so we were happy with our outing. I know it's risky increasing the mileage so rapidly, but sometimes you have to push the envelope a bit if you want to start running with the big boys.
We celebrated at the finish line with a bowl of curry and rice for the unbelievably low price of R15 per bowl! Just what the doctor ordered.
And their medals were out of this world. Those who were able to do the Saturday 100k bike and Sunday 42.2 would be rewarded with 2 medals, which would fit into a third gold medal (see below). I may have to get on these bad boys next year.
A highly recommendable weekend. Something I see myself doing for a few years to come.
Did I mention that they drew some of the entrants's names from a hat and gave away *real* diamonds? I kid you not. Sitting in the diamond district has its perks.
Keep on truckin',


  1. Thanks for writing this great story about our little town!! Hope we see you again next year??

    Proud Ottosdaller!!

  2. Thank you so much for an excellent weekend! Ottosdal is amazing and gave us a reminder of the important things in life and that the human spirit is alive and well. So many little sparks were ignited in my brain, making me feel truly happy and lucky to be South African. Put me down for next year's 100k bike and 42.2k run. I'm bringing all my friends!