The KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is home to some of the world’s most iconic sports events, including the Dusi Canoe Marathon and the Comrades Marathon. The province offers many exciting landscapes and terrains for sports lovers to explore, including big rivers, mountain and forest trails, as well as many friendly and vibrant sports communities. Trail running, MTB, road cycling, rock climbing and hiking paradise.
Here we’ve rounded up 5 of the province’s biggest sports events.
Dusi Canoe Marathon
The Dusi Canoe Marathon was founded in 1951, and covers roughly 120km between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, on the East Coast of South Africa.
It is the biggest canoeing event on the African continent, and one of the world’s most popular river marathons, attracting between 1600 and 2000 paddlers each year.
The race starts on the uMsindusi River that runs through Pietermaritzburg and includes a number of weirs and Grade 1 to Grade 2+ rapids using water released from Henley Dam. At roughly the halfway point of the race the uMsindusi River meets the far larger uMngeni River and the river becomes more challenging, with some rapids rated Grade 3+, and some of the trickier rapids like Island 2 is portaged by most of the field. Most of the large rapids can be portaged if desired.
The 2019 event takes place from 14-16 February 2019.
More information: www.facebook.com/DusiCanoeMarathon
The Midmar Mile s the world’s largest open water swimming event. It takes place at Midmar Dam just north of Howick. The Midmar Mile attracts thousands of swimmers each year, both serious international athletes and Olympic medallists to recreational swimmers young and old.
The 2019 event takes place on Saturday 9th February and Sunday 10th February.
More information: www.facebook.com/MidmarMileOfficial/
The Comrades Marathon: The world’s greatest ultra-marathon, 89 kilometres long, the Comrades is a South African institution, internationally recognised for the body-sapping challenge it poses and the camaraderie it fosters among its thousands of participants. Run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the race alternates annually between the up run from Durban and the down run from Pietermaritzburg.
In 2019 the race takes place on Sunday, 9 June 2019, and is an up run, starting in Durban and ending at the Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg.
More information: www.facebook.com/ComradesMarathon/
The Midlands MTB Stage Race
Now in its second year, the Midlands MTB Stage Race caters to mountain bikers of all levels. Starting in Howick, riders will be riding a mix of existing trails as well as trails created exclusively for this event.
The routes will be through Sappi commercial plantations, Ezemvelo Nature Reserve, jeep track, single track and along public gravel. Iconic points of interest have been purposefully included to show riders the beauty and history of the Midlands area.
The routes have been created to make this event fast for those aiming for a podium finish but also easily manageable for riders who are experiencing their first stage race event. The emphasis is on fun for all.
Takes place from 29 – 30 June 2019.
More information: www.facebook.com/themidlandsMTB/
A tribute to Mandela and a triumph of the human spirit. The Mandela Day Marathon was initiated in 2012 to honor the life and times of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
The marathon starts from Arya Samaj Hall (Manayi Hall) in Imbali, where Mandela made his last public speech on 25 March 1961 at the All-in-Africa conference, and ends at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, where Mandela was arrested outside Howick on 5 August 1962.
The starting and finishing points of the race form part of the Freedom Route experience which was initiated by various stakeholders in the tourism industry to promote the freedom related struggles of freedom icons of the KwaZulu-Natal such as John Langalibalele Dube ( Inanda Heritage Route) Alan Paton, Albert Luthuli (Groutville Museum), Mohandas (Mahatma) Ghandi (Phoenix Settlement) and others.
The race offers 3 distances – the 42.2km marathon, 21.1km or 10km.
Takes place in August 2019.
Accommodation in the KZN Midlands
Amber Avenue is a boutique guesthouse in Howick offering elegant accommodation in the KZN Midlands. View availability and book.