South Africa boasts of a variety of mega sports events. Every year at specified times, thousands of locals and international sports enthusiasts flock to designated starting points - some to compete, other for purely recreational reasons. Anyone can take part, from professionals to (yesterday’s) couch potatoes. If you start feeling the urge to get fit, you may consider participating in one (or more) of them!
The Comrades Marathon is the world's oldest and largest ultra marathon run over a distance of approximately 90 km (55.9 mi) between the capital of the Kwazulu-Natal Province of South Africa, Pietermaritzburg, and the coastal city of Durban. The direction of the race alternates each year between the up run starting from Durban and the down run starting from Pietermaritzburg. The Comrades Marathon is usually held on the last Sunday of May. In 2011, the Comrades marathon starts on Sunday 29 May 2011 at dawn (5:30 AM) from Durban and finishes ten hours later in Pietermaritzburg.
The Two Oceans Marathon is called the world’s most beautiful marathon held annually in Cape Town. The race is held on the Saturday of the Easter weekend and runs through the spectacular scenery of Cape Peninsula. The participants can enter for the ultra marathon (56 km) or for the half marathon (21.1 km) Date of Race Easter Saturday. At the beginning of March 2011, all 13,500 places set aside for the half marathon were sold out. It is expected that 11,000 will take part in the ultra marathon.
The Argus Cycle Race (full name The Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour) is the largest individually timed cycle race in the world, with as many as 31,000 cyclists taking part. It is the first event outside Europe to be included in the International Cycling Union's Golden Bike Series. Hosted in Cape Town, this annual race is about 100 km long and usually follows the scenic circular route from Cape Town down the Cape Peninsula and back. The race is traditionally staged on the second Sunday of March.
The Midmar Mile is a big open water event. It draws thousands of swimmers each year, from Olympic medallists to recreational swimmers. The competitors swim out in several groups at two-minute intervals over two days, and the group division is based on qualifying times in a previous event. In 2009, when 13,755 competitors finished the race, the Guinness Book of World Records recognised the Midmar Mile as the world's largest open water swimming event. The date for the next Midmar Mile has been provisionally set for 12 and 13 February 2012.
The list of annual mass sports events in South Africa does not end here. The popular Discovery Cape Times Big Walk, held in November, attracts over 30,000 participants. The Johannesburg’s Cycle challenge is also held in November, and 30,000 cyclists are expected to participate this year. Plus, there are numerous other sports gatherings for surfing, kayak, or hiking enthusiasts, to name just a few.
While the majority of the mass sports events cater for different levels of fitness, it is important to remember that one cannot take part in a marathon straight off the couch. Preparation is everything, and many events organisers offer carefully planed online pre-event training programmes.
As for getting the equipment you need for the mega sporting event of your choice, you will find it in the bidorbuy sports section.