Hey guys, with the fast approaching Comrades Marathon on June 9, I would like to provide a summary on the longest and oldest Ultra Marathon race in the world.
Starting back in 1921 it is approximately 89km of road running between the South African cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. The race famously changes direction each year and is known as either racing an “up” year as Durban is at sea level or a “down” year as Pietermaritzburg sits at 600 metres above sea level. 2019 will be an up year with the race starting in Durban.
What makes this race so special and unique is the challenge that lies ahead for most of the 25000 starters who are required to reach checkpoints along the way —16k/30k/45k/58k/69k and 81k —within the set cut-off time only to then have to run, shuffle or crawl in fear of not making it to the finish line for the final cut-off of 12 hours. This is a sight that even the exhausted and hobbling finishers come to watch and applaud as the pain and anguish that the runners face as the human chain formed by marshals close off the finish line when the 12 hour gun is fired. This would be devastating after 12 hours of gruelling and punishing effort of running 89 kilometres over the famous “Big 5” hills, to not be awarded an official finish certification or medal.
I, along with my fellow Australian Comrades, will be preparing and training hard to not be one of the 15000 runners who fail to make the finish line come June 9 2019 and pick up one of the medals listed below.
- Gold medal: the first 10 men and women
- Wally Hayward medal (silver-centred circled by gold ring): 11th position to sub 6hrs
- Isavel Roche-Kelly medal (silver-centred circled by gold ring): women only, 11th position to sub 7hrs 30min
- Silver medal: 6hrs 00min to sub 7hrs 30min
- Bill Rowan medal (bronze-centred circled by silver ring): 7hrs 30min to sub 9hrs
- Robert Mtshali medal (titanium): 9hr 00min to sub 10hrs
- Bronze medal: 9hrs 00min to sub 11hrs
- Vic Clapham medal (copper): 11hrs 00min to sub 12hrs 00min.
All the best and safe travels for all.
Author: Aston Duncan —The Running Guy—piecing potential-together