Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 164 December 2023 | Page 34

MANN the running mann by STUART MANN

Although it was the mid-term school break , I could not sell a family weekend away in Potchefstroom to my teenage daughters . Therefore , I did the short trip along the N12 from Joburg solo . Two hours later , I was in the North West Province and checked into my accommodation for the night – an establishment called Beesdam . I had chosen it for its proximity to the start of the race , which would allow me a slightly longer sleep the following morning . Potchefstroom is a university town , and my room was adjacent to the main campus entrance . When booking , I noted that one of the rooms offered a “ studding desk ” – things have certainly changed since I was a student !

Upon arrival I settled into a beer and a few Friday afternoon emails , whilst watching the Proteas cruising to victory against Pakistan at the Cricket World Cup , and gloatingly posted to our family WhatsApp group that I was “ enjoying the bachelor life .” A bit later , I made the 500-metre stroll down the road to registration , which was friendly and efficient , hoping that Markram and Miller would wait for my return before knocking off the winning runs . However , my optimism was misplaced , as I returned a short while later to observe lot of wickets down and not many runs added . The Proteas did manage to hobble over the line for a one-wicket win , but I ruefully observed that their performance may well be an omen for my run the next day … crossing the finish line nine wickets down and just surviving an umpire ’ s call .


MANN the running mann by STUART MANN


Now that I am finally back to enjoying one of my favourite hobbies , travelling the country to try run every marathon or ultra in South Africa , I recently found myself in Potchefstroom for the LetsGo Potch Marathon , and besides enjoying a good run with various running friends , I also delved deep down into the darker side of my sense of humour .

Marathon # 253 / Unique Marathon # 150 / 28 October 2023

measure ). I settled into a steady pace alongside Hybré Geldenhuys , with whom I had interacted several times on Facebook , but had not met in person . We ended up running the first lap together , which also meant that I ran my fastest half marathon in over two years !
A dwarf amongst Meyerton giants at the start
Living the bachelor life in Potch
Friday afternoon ’ s temperature peaked at 36 ° C , so I was expecting a hot and heavy Saturday morning , but was pleasantly surprised with some thick cloud cover on race morning . Further shade was provided at the start by the hulking figure of Roland du Plessis and his Meyerton cronies . I was hoping that there would be at least 10 of them , so that I could make a joke about the Meyer-ten , but unfortunately the rest of the club opted for a shorter local run .
With it being World Cup Rugby final day , the National Anthem was sung before the start gun fired ( and the organisers also threw in a smoke machine for good
Like a Potch Pancake
The inaugural LetsGo Potch Marathon was run in 2022 and they adjusted the route from an out-and-back to a double-lapper this year . However , you still start off with a 12km out-and-back to the Potchefstroom Dam , which returns one almost to the start at Cachet Park before doing a loop around the local army base and then strolling through some leafy suburbs and the longest avenue of oak trees in South Africa to complete the lap .
Images : Stuart Mann , Roland du Plessis
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