The Two Oceans Marathon is a 56km (34.8 miles) ultramarathon around the Cape Peninsula in South Africa. It has been run since 1970. This year, the event takes place on April 19. You are probably wondering – why am I writing about it?
And that’s exactly what they did! The race offers prize money of 250,000 rand (approximately $22,500) for 1st place and 125,000 rand (approximately $11,250) for 2nd place – not bad. There is also prize money through 10th place and within several age categories. However, most notably, the sponsor, Old Mutual, is kicking in a million rand (over $90,000) if someone breaks the overall course records.
The records are currently held by Thompson Magawana (3:03:44) and Frith van der Merwe (3:30:36). The men’s record is 25 years old and the women’s record is 24 years old.
Obviously, those times are fast. The pace of the men’s record is 5:16/mile (over 34.8 miles). The pace of the women’s record is 6:03/mile. Wait, it gets better – check out the elevation profile of the course:
Sure, it’s basically flat for 17 miles – but then you quickly gain 250 meters of vertical. You give it all back by the 25-mile mark before starting a second climb encompassing another 250 meters of vertical.
So it will be impossible to break those records, right? Not everyone thinks so! David Barmasai, a Kenya who has run 2:07:18, is running this year – so is his countryman, Nickson Kipketer Koech, a 2:14:31 marathoner. One headline referring to the event read, “The Kenyans Are Coming!”
Only time will tell if these records will fall. Regardless, it is nice to see the stakes raised a little. And for the 99.9% of runners not competing for money, the race bills itself as the world’s most beautiful marathon – not a bad consolation prize.