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RUNNERS' GUIDE
Nedbank Strava
CANCELLED
COMRADES MARATHON
DATE 14 June 2020
TIME 05h30
ORGANISERS Comrades Marathon Association
DISTANCE 90km, ,
PROVINCE KwaZulu-Natal
START VENUE City Hall ,Chief Albert Luthuli/Commercial Road,Pietermaritzburg
RACE WEBSITE CLICK HERE
PRIMARY CONTACT
NAME Race Organiser
NUMBER
EMAIL info@comrades.com
FAX 033-8978660
HOME NUMBER
WORK NUMBER 033-8978650
SECONDARY CONTACT
NAME
NUMBER
EMAIL
FAX
HOME NUMBER
WORK NUMBER
COMRADES MARATHON

ENTRY DETAILS



Pre-entries: www.comrades.com. This is strictly a pre-entry event and the field for the 95th running of the Comrades Marathon will be limited to 27,500 entrants. On this point the organisers stand firm and no extensions will be entertained. It is important that you enter as early as possible to avoid disappointment. Entries opened on 28 October 2019 and close on 30 November 2019 or when 27,500 entries are achieved, whichever comes first.

For practical purposes many will enter the Comrades Marathon before running a qualifying race. While entry submissions must meet either date or quota criteria the cut-off date for running your qualifying race is 4th May 2020. Once your qualifying race is done you must submit the event and time details to the organisers. Once verified by the Race Office your entry will be complete. Failure to meet the qualifying criteria will result in your entry being rejected. Given the opening and closing dates of entries for Comrades 2020 the organisers understand you will not be in possession of your 2020 licence when you enter.

You will still have to comply with the rule that you must be licensed through an officially registered athletics club affiliated to Athletics South Africa in order to run the 2020 Comrades Marathon. As with the qualifying criteria, you will be able to enter for Comrades 2020 before receiving your 2020 licence. You have to submit your club name and 2020 licence number to the Comrades Marathon Association by 4th May 2020.

The CMA will verify your licence and qualifying details with your club. Failure to submit these details will result in your entry being rejected. The Athletics South Africa licensing rules do not apply to international athletes entering from outside the country. In terms of prioritising runner safety the CMA requires competitors to run a qualifying race. The race must be an official fixture on the annual road running calendar and must be run between 24 August 2019 and 4th May 2020. 

International athletes can qualify in foreign races provided the race falls within the qualifying period and you submit proof of the result. As a guideline most international marathons serve as a qualifier provided that they are run within the IAAF rules, are properly measured and timed events, and produce a set of verifiable results. This table indicates the slowest qualifying times necessary to enter:

Distance of Race             Qualifying Time
42.2 km                            sub 4hr 49min 59sec
48 - 50 km                        sub 5hr 49min 59sec
52 - 54 km                        sub 6hr 24min 59sec
56 km                                sub 6hr 44min 59sec
60 km                                sub 7hr 19min 59sec
64 km                                sub 7hr 54min 59sec
68 km                                sub 8hr 29min 59sec
80 km                                sub 10hr 24min 59sec
90 km                                sub 11hr 59min 59sec
100 km                              sub 13hr 29min 59sec

To minimise congestion at the start, the organisers have employed a seeding system which is based on the qualifying time on your entry form. 

Online entry at www.comrades.com is the preferred entry method. Entries may however be sent via post to: Comrades Marathon Association, PO Box 100621, Scottsville, 3209. You may hand deliver your entry to CMA House in Pietermaritzburg before the close of business on or before the applicable closing date. The organisers will accept substitutions for the 2020 Comrades Marathon during the window period starting on 16 March 2020, ending 16 April 2020. No late substitutions will be accepted. To compete in ‘The Ultimate Human Race’ you must be 20 years or older on the day of the race.




COMRADES MARATHON

DIRECTIONS

Race Start Coordinates: -29.6006068, 30.37941180000007 

Race Finish Coordinates: -29.828712660082534, 31.030691529158503 

COMRADES MARATHON

THE RUN



A detailed description for the Comrades Marathon route is not easy. Annually, there are many minor modifications as a result of road works, traffic congestion and changes in finish venue. The main features of the Comrades route are the dramatic physical variations in the Drummond to Durban stretch. On the down run, this comes in the second half of the race.

The first half of the ‘down’ is deceptive and many runners will be forgiven if they wonder if it is indeed a down run. The elevation from the Pietermaritzburg to Drummond section is slight. Both the start and the halfway point lie roughly at the same height above sea level, with the highest point – Umlaas Road – a mere 170 metres above Pietermaritzburg. This means there is a fair amount of gentle climbing in the first half of the race. By contrast the variation in height over the second half is 650 metres. This translates into a drop that is dramatic, and as any experienced Comrades runner will testify, it is the damage done to tired legs in this half that really makes up the physical challenge of the race.

The Comrades route is characterised by the "Big Five" hills. The order of these mighty challenges on the down run is: Polly Shortts, Inchanga, Botha's Hill, Fields Hill and Cowie's Hill. Three of the five hills are in the second half of the race. From the top of Botha's Hill to the base of Cowie's Hill there is a drop of over 500 metres in just 22 kilometres. This is the real test of the down run, and any foolhardy exuberance over this treacherous stretch will be paid for many times over in the final run into Durban.

The start is a festive occasion, with blaring music in the foreground and the incessant chattering of thousands of Mynah birds in the background. The traditions of the “Chariots of Fire” theme and the recorded cockcrow of Max Trimborn add to the sense of occasion and history. It normally is very cold in Maritzburg so it is wise to wear an old running T-shirt to the start. Depending on the size of the field, it takes between four to seven minutes to clear the line.

First comes the run down the dip past Alexander Park into the dark suburbs of Pietermaritzburg and onwards to Polly Shortts. A mere eight kilometres into the race the hill hardly features, but from this high ground you can gaze out as the first rays of sunlight reflect off the mist in the distant valleys. Here there is always talk of last year's run, and how Polly Shortts, that stern tester of runners both great and average, provided much trial and tribulation.

In the morning chill the local farmers are braaing, the sun is up and there are cows and horses grazing in nearby fields. The road ahead undulates into little hollows, but the climb is gentle and Ashburton is not far off. The large field is still congested as you hustle through the ample drinks tables at Mpushini before cutting under the N3 highway at the Lion Park turnoff. Here there is public parking and the morning crowd is huge and the mood festive. By now there is a little more space between runners as you climb in the direction of colourful hot-air balloons and Umlaas Road, the highest point of the route.

The N3 highway is on your left on the way to Camperdown. This is chicken-farm country, and the race heads into this delightful village filled to capacity with cheering spectators, the air thick with the smoke of breakfast braais. Close to the 60-km-to-go marker board you will find the approach to Cato Ridge. The Cato Ridge Hotel cuts steep black and white angles against the sky as the route descends to the underpass and back onto the northern part of the N3 highway. This is the start of Harrison Flats, a singularly barren stretch between the undulating grassland behind and the Valley of a Thousand Hills ahead. This is a tricky part of the route that should be taken with a measure of caution.

On to the mighty hill, Inchanga, the "graveyard" section now behind us. The Comrades Marathon has a number of rare treats in store, and one of them occurs at this point. Here you will encounter a tunnel of wildly cheering school children from the Ethembeni Home. This is a special place for reflection, for these children are either on crutches or in wheelchairs. The noise is enormous and the excitement tangible as you pass through this celebration. Many runners find great mental and spiritual upliftment here. Hardly a dry eye leaves this little corner.

Inchanga is a notorious hill, and the slow climb past AmaZondi Store is hard. This landmark no longer stands but it is still acknowledged by the runners of old. By now the sun is sitting high and the day is getting hot. There are two steep climbs up the Inchanga Bank followed by the bone-jarring descent into Drummond. From this vantage point one can see the highway far below with Drummond in the distance.

There is a wall of sound and dense crowds of spectators as you encounter the festivities that make up the excitement of reaching the halfway mark. At Drummond the Valley of a Thousand Hills spreads out majestically to the north. All too quickly the swirl of sound, the tantalizing smells and colours pass for the climb out of the Drummond bowl focuses you once more. The pull is solid, even punishing.

Onward to Botha’s Hill. Before reaching this charming little village there is Arthur’s seat on the right. At this legendary spot it is believed the ghost of Arthur "Greatheart" Newton, the first of the Comrades greats sits on race day and greets each runner passing on the way to Durban. Be sure to leave a flower on his seat to ensure safe passage in the second half. Not far off is the Comrades Wall of Honour, that famous wall where many Comrades runners are immortalised. Across the valley we can see the Alvestone Tower and the sweeping descent past what used to be the Rob Roy Hotel. This surely is the most scenic part of the Comrades route and is a good time to savour a very special moment.

Near the top of Botha’s Hill is Kearsney College. Here well-groomed and uniformed lads from the college line the road. They may be a little more restrained than the children at Ethembeni, but their greeting is always warm and enthusiastic. Another one of those rare and precious moments which make up the magic of this special day.

Now the downhill running begins in earnest. Botha’s Hill is steep, jarring and difficult. The crowds are thick, the mood festive as you press onward into Hillcrest. On entering Hillcrest, there are large country homes that hug the hillsides, a stark contrast to the rural Zulu huts that dot the mountainous hillsides just a few kilometres behind. Hillcrest is a popular spectator spot, and there are dense crowds on both sides of the road. The distance is beginning to tell. There are still 30 kilometres to go, but the tree-lined road offers welcome respite. Here, there are lovely homes with lush subtropical gardens and neat lawns.

Professor Tim Noakes – running authority and the famous author of Lore of Running, takes us through this next part of the route: “It is here, in the sudden solitude of the quiet lane that meanders gracefully through Emberton and Gillitts that, for me, the Comrades Marathon really begins. No longer do I progress on my own terms – the hopes and confidence stored in my training now vanish before the reality. The route, which has been held at bay for 57 kilometres, is now running me. Around me, I know that each runner is engaged in the same battle. In common suffering, we are alone to find our individual solutions.

“So despite the internal mutiny of an exhausted body, as I approach Kloof Station, my mind is still in control. But whatever mental reserves I retain, I know they are inadequate for the sight that now confronts me. From Kloof Station, at the top of Field’s Hill, the Comrades plays the most evil trick. Experience tells me not to look, that should I for one second divert my eyes from the road, I will most likely not finish. But I have no discipline, and I see laid before me the final, infinite 25 kilometres that separates me from Durban and the finish at Sahara Stadium, Kingsmead.

“In each race I have learned the desire to quit comes but once. It is a coward that once beaten does not return. But as I begin the descent of Field’s Hill, even this knowledge is of no assistance. It is here on this major descent, that I am joined by the final tormentor. The continual jarring of sharp descents from Inchanga, Botha’s Hill and Hillcrest has taken its toll on my quadriceps and every step now sends an ever more painful shock down each thigh.

“Were the human brain able to recall the pain of Field’s Hill, no one would run the down Comrades twice. This then is the point each runner, from the first to the last, must pass to arrive in Durban on their own feet. It is here, stripped of any of society’s false privileges, that he finds no hiding place, no shelter of convenience. Face to face with himself he must look deep inside. 'These miles,' wrote George Sheehan, 'will challenge everything he holds dear, his value system, his lifestyle. They will ask nothing less than his view of the Universe.'"

Through Pinetown there are many wounded walkers who have underestimated the damage that the Field’s Hill gradient could render after covering a punishing 65 kilometres. The large Pinetown crowd urges you, by now exhausted, on to Cowie’s Hill. Here many have locked into themselves, fortifying their minds to carry an exhausted body over the last 20 kilometres to Durban.

The last part of this extraordinary journey is run on the highway. The pull up to Tollgate, the last great challenge before the final run into Durban, is exhausting. With Durban in full view the Comrades is almost at an end. Sahara Stadium Kingsmead is not far off now. All too soon before you lies Old Fort Road and the Stadium. A large crowd shouts approval from a nearby pub on the left. There are few walkers now. The noise inside is deafening, the energy of the crowd is wild and joyful, and each brave finisher feeds on the raw energy it presents.

Later, when all is said and done, medal proudly worn around my neck, I join my friend Tim Noakes. "I know why this is necessary," he says, "what common bond unites all Comrades runners. It is the need to look for the mountains in life. Skill, you see, is not our requirement, nor has your race got anything to do with winning or losing. These are the spoils of lesser games. Games which are unable to transport you to the places we have just been."

To summarise: The Comrades is characterised by five major hills, the "Big Five". Each presents a unique challenge. The first half of the route is fairly flat, followed by steep downhill sections in the second. The real challenge of the down run is the descent/damage factor caused by each hill. This is a ratio that takes into account the length and steepness together with the distance from the start. The following table defines the “Big Five” in terms of difficulty. Without doubt, Field’s Hill with a damage value of 38.6 stands like a Colossus on the route.

Hill

Polly’s

Inchanga

Botha’s

Field’s

Cowie’s

Length (km)

1,8

2,5

2,3

3,2

2,1

Height (m)

119,6

139,4

116,6

186,0

101,7

Dist from start

8

42

52

65

72

Damage ratio

1,7

14,6

13,9

38,6

15,3


FACILITES

Both the Comrades Expo in Durban and the Comrades Marathon Museum in Pietermaritzburg carry impressive displays tracing the race’s rich and vibrant history. Transport is offered to carry your tog bag from the start to the finish venue. Bus tickets from the finish back to Pietermaritzburg after the race are available at the Expo Information before the race. No tickets will be on sale on race day.

The official photographer, Jetline Action Photo, is on the route and at the finish, for that memorable shot at the finish line. The finish venue at Comrades exceeds proportions of any other race in the country. You should arrange to meet family and friends at a pre-determined point that is easy to find. There is also a fully computerised information centre, and anyone looking for a competitor should start here. The information centre and the medical tent are linked and carry the same information about the fate of each runner.

The Comrades Marathon Road Show Programme will be making countrywide visits between January and March 2020. These are informative, educational and inspiring sessions with expert advice, lucky draw prizes and interaction with local running heroes. For further information email Thami Vilakazi at thami@comrades.com



PRIZES AND GIVE-AWAYS

The first 10 men and 10 women win substantial cash prizes as well as the coveted Comrades pure gold medal. The organisers have offered an incentive prize of R525 000.00 for the first man and woman who break the respective race records.

The ‘Wally Hayward’ medal was introduced in 2007 and honours one of South Africa’s greatest athletes. The half gold, half silver medal recognises the outstanding performances of elite men athletes who narrowly miss a gold medal. This medal is awarded to those who do not finish in the top 10, yet complete the race within 06:00. The late Wally Hayward was one of the greatest ever Comrades Marathon runners. His seven medals included five wins, three of them record breaking runs. He had a remarkable Comrades career spanning 60 years. The legendary Wally remains the oldest person ever to finish the race.

The "Isavel Roche-Kelly" medal was introduced for the first time in 2019. In similar fashion, it honours the elite women athletes who miss gold, but finish in under 07:30. It too is half gold and half silver. Roche-Kelly won the Comrades Marathon in 1980 and 1981 and was the first woman to finish in under seven-and-a-half hours. She was tragically killed in a cycling accident at the age of 24.

Male athletes who finish between 06:00 and 07:30 win silver medals. The Comrades Marathon Association introduced the ‘Bill Rowan’ medal to coincide with the 75th event on 16 June 2000. This medal goes to all runners who finish the race between 07:30 and 09:00. Bill Rowan was the winner of the first Comrades in 1921, in a time of 08:59. It seems fitting that this medal commemorates this first win. The ‘Rowan’ is highly sought-after as it is arguably the most attractive of all the medals. Half bronze and half silver, the medal has a bronze centre surrounded by a ring of silver with the same traditional Hermes logo as the other Comrades Marathon medals.

The Robert Mtshali medal, introduced for the first time in 2019, is awarded to athletes who finish between 9:00 and 10:00. This titanium medal honours the first black runner to finish the race unofficially in 1935, in a time of 9:30.

All athletes who cross the line between 10:00 and 11:00 win bronze medals. The final medal, made of copper, is the ‘Vic Clapham’. It goes to those athletes who finish between 11:00 and the final gun at 12:00. Vic Clapham’s Comrades dream became a reality when he tenaciously started a race in the early twenties to remember his fallen comrades in the war to end all wars. A ‘back-to-back’ medal was introduced in the 2005 race and will be awarded again this year. This medal is given to all novice runners who run a ‘down’ and an ‘up’ Comrades Marathon back-to-back in subsequent years.

Novices who completed the 2019 ‘up' run are eligible for this medal. There is an 86% chance that you will finish the race if you have trained consistently and all goes well for you on the day. There is a 4% chance of a silver medal, provided you can comfortably run close to a 03:00 marathon. The participant give-aways are usually very generous and include a T-shirt, cap and a runner's goodie bag filled with various sponsors' products to pamper yourself with after the day’s daunting race.



Type Point-to-point
Sub Event Road Running
Difficulty Rating 5
COMRADES MARATHON

MEDIA RELEASE
Race Name Release Date Media Release
Comrades Marathon 15 June 2020
Epic participation in ‘Race The Comrades Legends’
Comrades Marathon 13 June 2020
Online Broadcast of #RaceTheComradesLegends
Comrades Marathon 12 June 2020
86 nations in ‘Race The Comrades Legends’
Comrades Marathon 11 June 2020
All Surviving CMA Chairs in ‘Race The Comrades Legends’
Comrades Marathon 09 June 2020
KZNDSR partners with Comrades Virtual Race – #RaceTheComradesLegends
Comrades Marathon 08 June 2020
2019 Champs all set to ‘Race The Comrades Legends’
Comrades Marathon 05 June 2020
Need to know info - #RaceTheComradesLegends
Comrades Marathon 01 June 2020
Comrades Runners Give Generously to Charity
Comrades Marathon 27 May 2020
Race The Comrades Legends’ Entries Rising
Comrades Marathon 21 March 2020
COMRADES 2020 - QUALIFIERS
Comrades Marathon 18 March 2020
2020 Comrades Marathon to go ahead as planned until further notice
Comrades Marathon 13 March 2020
2020 Comrades Substitution Process opens on Monday
Comrades Marathon 03 March 2020
Comrades Marathon awarded IAU Gold Label status
COMRADES MARATHON

ORGANISER
NAME Comrades Marathon Association
PROVINCE KwaZulu-Natal
EMAIL
WEBSITE www.comrades.com
ADDRESS PO Box 100621 Scottsville

CONTACT PERSON
NAME Johan Van Staden
PROVINCE
EMAIL johan@comrades.com
NUMBER 033-8978650
ADDRESS

RACES BY THIS CLUB
TYPE PROVINCE RACE DATE VENUE CONTACT NUMBER
COMRADES MARATHON

EDITORS NOTES



EDITORS NOTES

The Comrades Marathon has been consistently ranked in a number of our surveys as a well organised and well-presented event. Over the last decade it has achieved distinction as one of South Africa’s best loved road races.

From its modest start in 1921 with a loaned budget of £1 the Comrades Marathon has grown and expanded exponentially. The spirit of this race has defined South Africa as a nation and inspired many around the world. The first race of the 21st century saw an unprecedented field of over 24,000 athletes take on the challenge. Even our beloved former President Nelson Mandela was present to personally witness the day's proceedings.

The Comrades Marathon is a race steeped in history and tradition and in 2019 this classic challenge celebrates the 95th time heroes and heroines of the Old Road take on its mighty quest. Stand at the start of the Comrades Marathon and all other road races seem to fade into insignificance. There is no other event quite like it and put simply, it is a national treasure. Standing at the start of the Comrades Marathon you become a witness to history.

A verse from a poem by Dave Jack, the ‘poet laureate’ of the Comrades Marathon, captures something of the spirit of this glorious race:
"It is something that changes lives forever
And makes those who do it, different,
Not only to others but to themselves.
It takes ordinary people
Who struggle to achieve mediocrity,
And allows others to look up to them in awe."

The international status of the Comrades grows as more and more overseas competitors take an interest in the race. Many ordinary runners from around the world have discovered the lure and challenge of the Comrades Marathon. As South Africans, we welcome these visitors to our shores and embrace them as comrades.

Dare we say that this is the finest ultra-distance race in the world? Few would argue. The American edition of ‘Runner's World’ rated the Comrades as one of the top 10 races in the world, along with events such as the New York, London and Boston Marathons. The Comrades Marathon has been recognised and now holds its rightful place in the Guinness Book of World Records as ‘the most runners in an ultra-marathon’.

Many things change every day in South Africa, but one thing never does. That is the timeless tradition of a whole country focusing if not its collective strength, then certainly its collective spirit on the Old Main Road. I know in one way or another I shall be there forever. Visit the website at www.comrades.com.



Time Limit: 12:00

Finishers: 16443

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