Is this marathon heaven on earth?

The organisers of the inaugural Hemel en Aarde Marathon claim on their event website that they are staging the most spectacular marathon in South Africa.

There will surely be a few other marathons in the country who will dismiss this as hyperbole and exaggeration, but few will can argue the event on February 29 will be held in one of South Africa’s most scenic areas. And it is hard to dispute the facts that the 42,2km run through the Overberg of the Western Cape, from Caledon to Hermanus, will be spectacularly beautiful.

The website describes the route as starting “in the picturesque town of Caledon and (taking) the runners past some of the most amazing landscapes and across the rolling hills of the Overberg.

“The winding road will take the runners towards the Whaling Town of Hermanus where they will reach the finish line at the well-known Whalehaven Winery.”

Coming just a few days before qualification closes for the Two Oceans, this event is sure to become a sought-after event for those looking to submit a quick seeding time for both the popular Cape Town event and the Comrades Marathon later in the year.

The route across the Overberg provides a profile that will have many runners contemplating personal best times. The opening 15km are undulating and give a chance for competitors to warm up before a series of three hills will provide a test for those runners who have underindulged in hill sessions and overindulged in festive-season eating.

However, the final 15km take the athletes from the highest point in the race down to the finish which is almost at sea level. The quadriceps may end up burning as runners cross the finish line at Whalehaven, but out of the pain should be the reward of a fast time and a good seeding for the ultra-marathons.

The field has been limited to just 2 000 runners and every finisher will receive a medal and a T-shirt.

No late entries will be taken, but number collection will take place the day before (February 28) at the Whale Coast Mall in Hermanus and at the start venue at Overberg High School in Caledon from 6pm until 9pm, and on race day at the Overberg High School from 3.45am.

The organisers promise the Hemel En Aarde Marathon will “take on a ‘not to miss’ status on the South African Running Calendar.” We think they may be right.

The event is timed by FinishTime.

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