Health is Wealth Athletics Club in partnership with Nelson Mandela Museum and O.R Tambo District Municipality present the 3rd annual The Icon’s Journey Marathon (a proud member of Proudly South African).

The Icon’s Journey Marathon vision was inspired by President Nelson Mandela’s life journey of growing up in the rural villages of the former Transkei homeland to becoming a Global Icon.

Participants in South Africa’s longest 1 day running event have a unique opportunity to trace Madiba’s footprints from where he  was born, grew up, went to school and is laid to rest.

A unique heritage, tourism and adventure route where participants have an opportunity to also touch the birth places of some of South Africa’s Iconic freedom fighters namely Chris Hani, Walter Sisulu, Mama Albertina Sisulu, King Sabata Dalindyebo, Govan Mbeki and President Thabo Mbeki.

The heritage route distances:

103km Clarkebury Institution start.

35km Nelson Mandela’s Qunu home start.

12km Nelson Mandela Schol of Science and Technology start.

7km Lewanika Makgatho Primary School start.

All distances finish at Mvezo village where he was born.

The only way to finish this challenge is by tapping into your inner Icon.


Following the decision taken by the organising committee of The Icon's Journey Marathon to cancel the physical event which was scheduled for 16-18 July 2021.  It was further resolved to host a virtual challenge The Icon's Journey Marathon event.
Wherever you are...


Start Line

Starting at 04h00am "ekuseni ngo4 o'clock, sikhulul'uMandela!" 103km start - Clarkebury village, this is where Nelson's grandfather Mandela was born.  This is the school he attended for 2 years at the age of 16 from 1934-1936.  He stayed with the school headmaster Rev. Harris in his first year at Clarkebury Institution, special preference as he was the nephew of regent King Jongintaba Dalindyebo.

He has said it was at this school where he shook a white man's hand for the first time.  When the regent introduced him to the school headmaster.  The classroom he attended is now a science lab.  One of Madibas duties was to ring the school bell every morning.  Madiba also started the sport of long distance running in this high school, a sport he was quoted as saying, "it gave me discipline and solitariness" attributes he were to later use in his fight against inequality.


The athletes are well catered for with 50 Refreshment Stations along the 103km route.  Some include African dishes, dumplings and hard body chicken (known as uMleqwa in that part of the world) to keep to the heritage theme of the event.

Local Community Participation

The Icon's Journey is a catalyst for local economic development.  Below are some of the products and services to be provided by the local communities:

  • Route refreshment stations

  • Race marshals and assistants

  • Security officials

  • Traditional horseback riders

  • Road side entertainment by traditional artists

  • Stalls with various traditional mementos

The Icon's Journey Marathon works with government Emergency Services and Private Emergency Services to ensure safety for all athletes.



The 103km route traces the historic landmarks in the early life of the father of our democracy.  The institutions and landmarks that shaped him in his formative years.

It kicks off at Clarkebury Institution - one of the high schools Madiba attended.  It is a high school where amongst many sports, he was introduced to long distance running, a sport he enjoyed until University.  He has been quoted as saying, "it taught me discipline and solitariness" - attributes he went on to use in the war against inequality.

The run proceeds to Mqhekeqweni Great Place, now declared a National heritage site - this is where he was brought up by the regent King Jongintaba Dalindyebo from the age of 12 years.  It was in this great place that his leadership values were embedded in his mind as he inquisitively watched the proceedings of the traditional courts.  This is the halfway mark of the route.  


The race proceeds to Qunu village at 74kms, his rural home where Madiba was laid to rest.  The route is completed in Mvezo where he was born at the 103km mark.