The Nike Soweto Marathon

Liz and Sandi from Johannesburg Guesthouses take on the streets at the Soweto Marathon

Liz and Sandi from Johannesburg Guesthouses take on the streets at the Soweto Marathon

There are several important rules to follow when running a marathon.

Be fit.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Use sun block.

Call it a marathon if you’re running 42 kms.

Call it a half marathon if you’re running 21 kms.

Don’t feel scared to admit you’re just going to walk 10 kms.

And always pick up a coffee en route.

We Johannesburg Guesthouse owners scored ten out of ten for the shoes and the sun block. But we were not as fit as we could have been; we had no intention of running anywhere and had only signed up for the 10 kms.

Also, there was no-where easy to pick up a quick coffee en route.

Given our caffeine deficiency and general lack of training, we still did incredibly well. The atmosphere at the Nike Soweto Marathon (walk/marathon/whatever) was fantastic, with over 21 thousand runners taking part, all sizes, all colors and all ages.

Our route, the short route, sadly only covered the very outskirts of Soweto, whereas the longer runs went through the heart of Soweto, up Vilakazi Street, past the Orlando Cooling Towers, through the Baragwanath Taxi Rank, and past the Hector Pieterson Museum.

 The 10 km walk was fun and friendly, and we finished in good time. After a bit of haggling with the car guards (traffic and parking were not well organized,) we headed into Soweto in search of that cup of coffee.

 Vilakazi Street was busy. The straggler runners were slowly making their way up the road and the tourists were making their way down the road. We weaved our way between the two, and ran (okay, we walked) into the first coffee shop we saw.


NextDor was loud, with groovy African music blaring from the speakers at 10 am. We ordered our coffee, which thankfully came quickly, and sat back and watched the Soweto world go by.   The coffee was good; we compared marathon stories with fellow runners (okay, walkers), bought a few souvenirs, and drove home.

Home to our Johannesburg Guesthouses. Where hot baths and hot toddies awaited, and where we vowed that we would soon get fit and that next year, perhaps do the 21 kms.

Thank you Nike and thank you, Soweto. It was a great day.