The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town is actually one of two very famous Ultra Marathons in South Africa: the 56km Two Oceans Marathon and the 90km Comrades Ultra Marathon. It is always held on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The Two Oceans Marathon is a race where you have to qualify (see below) and where the cut off time of 7 hours gross is actually enforced. The reward for it is a special medal, that changes colour for every hour that passes: sub 4, sub 5, sub 6 and sub 7 hours.
The Two Oceans Marathon 56km is the classical distance, but there are three other races that weekend, which are also highly popular: the Half Marathon on a less scenic route and the 12km and 24km trail run on the back of Table Mountain, which I absolutely have to try next year.
I have written another blog posts about my amazing experience at the Two Oceans Marathon, that covers much more. You can find it here.
Travel & Accessibility
How accessible the Ultra Marathon entry is, depends on your level of running: you have to qualify at one of the SAA accredited Marathons or other (international) Marathons by running the 42.2km in under 5 hours. As my spot was a sponsored one (thank you adidas runners) I did not have to provide proof, but I actually had qualified 3 times before.
How accessible Cape Town is for you depends also on where you live. For me, living in London at the time, it was just an (expensive) overnight flight away. It also depends on the time of year. As the Two Oceans Marathon is always on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday the time of year can vary quite a bit and with that the availability of flights.
But as it will be Easter, it will always be very expensive.
The Two Oceans Marathon expo was at the CTICC which is in Downtown and easily accessible. The start however is in the Capetownian suburbs, and there is no public transport to the start line. At least not at 4 a.m.
So most people travel there by car or taxi, and there can be quite a long traffic jam. We went there by taxi and our driver dropped us off right at the start which was very convenient.
The finish line of the Two Oceans Marathon is on the University of Capetown grounds, in walking distance to the parking spots. However we decided to get an Uber back home which was also very convenient.
Pre-Race and Bib pick-up
The expo and bib pick up is conveniently located at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. There was a short queue at the entrance due to the small doors, but inside the pick up was fast and easy.
Once you exit the bib pick up zone they scan your number and let you pass into the expo zone aka runner’s shopping heaven. It started with the adidas zone where I met fellow adidas runners and spent a lot of money on funny t-shirts:
“One Ocean is just not enough”
“Run now, w(h)ine later”
There was also a stall where you could personalize your t-shirt with your name. The rest of the expo was well equipped for last minute purchases, but fairly standard.
The same was true for the start line area. There were absolutely not enough porta potties for all the runners. I waited 45 minutes in the queue and some of the Half Marathoners missed their start.
However the ambiance created at the start in the 20 minutes before the race was really special. The performance of the South African National Anthem was breathtaking.
Two Oceans Marathon course
The Two Oceans Marathon course itself first heads south through the suburbs towards Muizenberg and the first Ocean. (people think it is the Indian Ocean, while technically it is still the Atlantic, but let’s ignore that).
After approximately 15km it heads east towards Fish Hoek and the second Ocean, where also the first food stop (potatoes) and the Half Way Mark is. It then climbs Chapman’s Peak heading North into Hout Bay.
After the Marathon Mark and the second food station (bananas) it climbs Constantia’s Neck. The last 8km are more or less downhill until the finish line. Note the “less” downhill, which can feel longer than Chapman’s Peak before.
Along the course they have porta-potties approximately every 5km. The ones that were missing on the start were just coming later on. And trust me, during 56km you will need them. I needed them twice.
Water and sportsdrinks in small plastic packets were handed out every 2km approximately. These packets came in very handy as you could just bite into them, and suck or squeeze out the water. However they seemed to be terrible for the environment and were really slippery when you stepped on them. As there were a lot of cat eyes in the middle of the road. I tripped and fell twice during the whole course.
The only thing I did not like was the lack of food.
I was carrying my hydration pack anyway, as I wanted to bring my own food supply. Which was a good idea as one potato and one banana are just not enough for 56km.
After the finish line we were given our Two Oceans Marathon medals (different for each hour of the race) and something to drink and eat. We were then urged to leave the immediate finish area to a much wider lawn area where friends and family were waiting.
It took me actually a while to find the bag drop area, which was a bit hidden on the outside of university grounds.
There were also some tents for VIPs, international runners and normal people where you could get food and drinks.
As it was a sunny day most people were sitting directly on the lawn. However, the lawn would be an absolute mess in case it is raining on race day. I heard some stories about the last 100 metres being a big mud pit on a rainy day. I don’t mind the mud, but in that case spectators should bring some wellies.
Cape Town is an amazing city and always worth a trip. The food is fantastic and the people are incredibly friendly.
My personal sightseeing highlights were of course Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Signal Hill, and the V&A Waterfront area. One day we also booked a bus tour to the Cape of good Hope and Boulder’s Beach and its Penguins.
What I missed out on because I did not have enough time were the wineries, the botanical gardens and Robben Island. Another good reason to come again next year.
Do you want to know ho my personal Two Oceans Experience went? Read about it here.