This year, 2019, is the Two Oceans Marathon’s 50th anniversary. Every year this race is run in Cape Town, South Africa, considered to be the most scenic race in the world. The first race was in 1970, and only 26 runners entered. It was supposed to be a training run, but it grew in popularity to what it is now – over 20 000 runners from all over South Africa and the world. Dirkie Steyn won the first race – and he was barefoot! The distance this year (2019) was 56 kilometres, and the entries were pegged at 13 000 for the Ultra, and entry qualifications were stringent.
In 1972 the race was officially named the Two Oceans, but this was a misnomer as the race starts near False Bay which is in the Atlantic and ends over the Cape Peninsular which is still in the Atlantic, the actual divider between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean being further to the south-east at Cape Agulhas.
Two Oceans Categories
In South African races the Two Oceans is second in popularity only to The Comrades in Kwa Zulu Natal and is well known in racing circles through the world, and a fair number of foreign competitors travel to South Africa to compete. Apart from the 13,000 runners entered into the Ultra, a further 13 000 enter into the other distances. The race starts in Newlands and ends at the University of Cape Town, although this is not written in stone, and is always run over the Easter Weekend. In 1990 the committee agreed to allow a Friday run for those whose religious beliefs did not allow them to run on a Saturday and 19 runners participated. In 1984 there were 3770 entries, and in 1985 Siphiwe Gqele won the race for the third time (’84, ’85 and ’86).
As with the Comrades, the Two Oceans accepted both non-whites and women for the first time in 1975. A year later Gabashane Vincent Rakabaele was the first across the finishing line, and Marie Jeanne Duyvejonke was the first lady to cross the border (she was from Belgium). The first lady to win was Beverly Malan in 1982, 1983 and 1985 and 1988. Thompson Magawana set the course record which has never been broken, and he also broke the world records for the 30-mile distance.
Chapman’s Peak Closed
In 2000 the scenic Chapman’s Peak was closed to traffic due to rockfalls, and the committee had to alter the route, and for years the runners missed out on the beautiful Chapman’s Peak and had to use the Ou Kaapse Weg. In 2001 a new category was introduced to honour Grand Grandmasters (over 70’s) and the oldest runner for this year was Gert Koen at 75 years of age.