SPAR - Knysna Forest Marathon

With 7 000 athletes already signed up to experience the magic of the SPAR Knysna Forest Marathon, the 38th running of the Garden Route race is shaping up to be a memorable one.

The marathon (42.2km) and half marathon (21.1km) events, renowned for taking participants deep into the forest and offering breathtaking views of the estuary and Knysna Heads, takes place on July 8 this year.

“We are expecting runners from all over the country, including the Western Cape, Gauteng and Eastern Cape,” organiser Baily Neill said. “So many people are drawn to the race because about 90 per cent of it is run through the forest.”

Entries have already exceeded last year’s total of 6 500, telling the story of how popular the marathon has once again become in the wake of the pandemic.

Since the lifting of restrictions, runners, joggers and walkers were incredibly keen to be outdoors again, according to Neill.

“While initially cautious, they now relish every opportunity to test themselves in events such as these.”

At the heart of the 2023 event is its tradition of benefiting others. Beneficiaries this year are the Vermont Old Age Home, Loeriehof Old Age Home, Knysna Epilepsy Centre and Sinethemba Youth Development Centre.

Besides the four charities, there are many others who benefit too.

SPAR - Knysna Forest Marathon

Anticipation is building for the 38th SPAR Knysna Forest Marathon, which has already attracted 7 000 runners from around the country. Photo: Supplied

“We involve people in the Knysna community by having them assist on the weekend of the event,” explained Neill. “From helping on the field to helping at the water tables along the route.”

Also, historically, many of the participants leave their clothes at the start to be donated to local communities.

“You can imagine the difference it makes with a couple of thousand people leaving their clothes behind,” Neill said.

SPAR regional advertising manager Roseann Shadrach said the Group had been looking to support an event in the South Western Districts for a while and the Knysna Forest Marathon aligned beautifully with its ethos of healthy living and enjoying the outdoors.

“Customers in Knysna are huge supporters of the SPAR brand and given the marathon is now in its 38th year and we are celebrating our 30th in the region, partnering with the event was a no-brainer,” she said.

“We are very excited to be part of this iconic event.”

Neill said the event was not simply a run in the forest but a “whole experience”.

“It’s about having a break away in Knysna. Yes, the race is definitely a bucket list item, but it’s also about spending time in a beautiful town.”

Those performing on the day will not miss out either as a variety of cash prizes have been made available by the organisers.

In the men’s and women’s marathons, the podium finishers will receive R5 000, R3 500 and R3 000 respectively. The top three in each category in the half marathons receive R4 500, R3 500 and R3 000.

Cash prizes will also be awarded in the various age categories of both distances.

The venue will sport an expo, beer tent and entertainment for kids.

Visit for general and entry information.