Year-round events take advantage of the country’s fantastic weather, diverse destinations and unique topography, with stunning urban and wilderness runs, single or multi-day cycling races through spectacular landscapes and world-class surfing competitions.
The gateway cities of Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg place international participants near the heart of the action, while well-oiled organising committees and sporting boards ensure events are easily accessible, enjoyable and safe.
Whether you already have a holiday in South Africa planned, or you’re looking for a challenging new escape, all you have to do to be event-ready is sign up, put in the training time, prepare your kit and pack your sense of adventure. Ready, set, go.
South Africa’s cosmopolitan cities, and the plateaus, bushveld and valleys in between, provide some incredible routes for runners, from those attempting their first trail-running challenge, to long-distance aficionados.
Easter weekend sees runners take to the streets for The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon Trail Run and Half Marathon around the beautiful Cape Peninsula, while the event’s Fun Runs and Cape Town International Friendship Run / Walk encourage all to get into the marathon spirit.
Founded in 1921, the Comrades Marathon seeks to promote camaraderie, dedication and humanity among the 20,000 competitors who attempt the 55-mile course between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal each June.
And the country’s premier trail event, The Otter African Trail Run, is a literally breathtaking challenge, with tough elevations and four river crossings along its stunning 25,5-mile coastal course through the Garden Route National Park in October.
Rides of your life
Cycling pros and amateurs will find rewarding rides across South Africa, from one-day events to epic, multi-day stage races across some of the country’s most incredible and challenging landscapes.
In March, the Western Cape plays host to the annual Cape Town Cycle Tour which leads cyclists on a circular route around the Cape Peninsula with stunning Table Mountain and coastal views, and the Cape Epic, an eight-day serviced stage race through the province’s unspoilt wilderness.
More than just a race, the Joberg2c in April/May takes riders on an inspiring, off-road adventure across four provinces from south of Johannesburg to the KwaZulu-Natal coast, often on previously untrodden paths.
In October/November, riders can choose from a trio of three-day team races in the FNB Wines2Whales event, which run from the Lourensford Estate vineyard in the Somerset West winelands to the whale-watching hub of Hermanus on the Western Cape. Named Chardonnay (for women), Shiraz (for men, mixed and Exxaro teams) and Pinotage (for first-time racers and international tourists), each race follows the same route to the sea.
Cool off after the running and biking with some surfing action on South Africa’s Atlantic or Indian Ocean shores.
The country is one of the world’s top surfing destinations with great year-round waves peaking between March and September on the south-east coast, when big swells whipped up by Antarctica’s ‘roaring forties’ winds roll in from the south.
The surf beaches and bays of the Cape Peninsula, Cape St Francis and KwaZulu-Natal offer opportunities for beginners and experienced surfers to dive in, or watch the pros in the World Surf League’s Championship Tour events in Ballito near Durban and legendary Jeffrey’s Bay on the Eastern Cape.
Junior Pro events and gatherings like the Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro in Port Elizabeth and the Vans Surf Pro Classic in Lambert’s Bay also offer opportunities to watch world-class riders and soak up some of South Africa’s laid-back surf culture.