The small, eastern Free State town of Clarens in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains recently drew 800 roadrunners for its annual Surrender Hill Marathon.
Marathon blogger Stuart Mann praised the run, close to the border with Lesotho, for its crystal clear 360° views of “rolling green hills, sandstone cliff faces and distant mountain peaks for as far as the eye can see”. His trepidation at the word “hill” in the name of the race also does not prove unfounded – to get to the spectacular views he had to ascend the notorious Surrender Hill.
The marathon, made possible by the sponsorship of the VKB Group, one of Mzansi’s leading agricultural enterprises, is organised by the Limodo Sports Events and Promotions on behalf of Bethlehem Marathon club.
On his blog The Running Mann, Mann writes that says it’s appropriate that Clarens is called “The Jewel of the Eastern Free State.” “Very appropriate considering I was hunting hidden gems!”
“One of my wild running ideas is to pick the best and most beautiful small-town marathons from all around the South Africa and create a ‘Hidden Gems’ series – the objective being to add a finish at each one to your lifetime marathon running CV. It’s still very much in the formulative stage but I would ensure that there is at least one race per province.”
He confesses that he had expected it to be harder to find such a “gem” in the Free State. “Although there are many great Free State runs, ‘beautiful’ is not an adjective one readily associates with their routes.” Surrender Hill, however, proved him wrong. Read his thoughts and see even more pictures on his blog.