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March 26, 2013

Two Oceans Marathon 2013: Mark Wagenheim to run his 35th race

Mark Wagenheim is preparing for his 35th Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon on Saturday

Mark Wagenheim, 56, takes on his 35th Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon on Saturday and for this veteran it's not about fancy gear or state-of-the-art shoes, it's about the camaraderie and running one of the world's most beautiful races.

Last year Wagenheim caught up with a novice runner from Soweto, who had been born in the year he took on his first Two Oceans Marathon. For Wagenheim that moment sums up his experiences: it was pouring with rain, and he was chatting to a first-timer and was enjoying the camaraderie.

A financial director at Ingenuity Property Investments, Wagenheim says he was barely out of his teens and had just finished his studies when he decided to take part in the race. 

"The race used to go past very close to where I lived in Claremont and I used to watch it as a teenager. I was finishing university when I decided to give it a go," he said.

That was in 1978. He missed the race in 1979 because he was doing his Board exam, but has run every year since then. 

He says he is an "old-school" runner, who dons a pair of Nike Pegasus, which he refers to as a "neutral shoe", and does not eat or drink "fancy" energy boosters. He does, however, belong to the Atlantic Athletic Club and runs about 20 races every year. 

He has some sage advice for newbies: "Train hard from January to race day, don't overtrain – listen to your body, [and] don't try anything new – food, drink or running shoes – close to race day. But most of all, just run your first race comfortably to enjoy the fantastic atmosphere and vibe. Don't be concerned about your time."

His best time was in 1987, when he ran 4h15m. This year he and his teammates are hoping to come in just under five hours to win a Sainsbury medal (which is awarded to sub-five hour finishers).

About three days before the race, he suggests entrants should increase their carbohydrate intake: "Potatoes, nuts, bananas, pasta, but not with any creamy sauce."

Wagenheim says his favourite stretch of the race is from Constantia Nek to the finish, but the most challenging is the preceding section from Hout Bay up to Constantia Nek.

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