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DATE 09 June 2024
TIME 05h30
ORGANISERS Comrades Marathon Association
PROVINCE KwaZulu-Natal
START VENUE Between City Hall and Post Office,Doctor Pixley Kaseme Street,Durban
NAME Race Organiser
EMAIL info@comrades.com
WORK NUMBER 033-8978650


This is strictly a pre-entry event. The field for the 97th running of the Comrades Marathon will be limited to 20,000. 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.

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 3rd May 2024.  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 2024 the organisers understand you will not be in possession of your 2024 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 2024 event. As with the qualifying criteria, you will be able to enter for the race before receiving your 2024 licence. You have to submit your club name and 2023 licence number to the Comrades Marathon Association by 3rd May 2024.

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 25 September 2023 and 3rd May 2024.

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 World Athletics (WA) 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 only entry method. The organisers will accept substitutions for the 2024 event during the window period starting on 15 March 2024, ending 16 April 2024. 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.



Race Start Coordinates: -29.857859123745722, 31.02517604827881 

Race Finish Coordinates: -29.60732336503612, 30.403043031692505 



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 Durban to Drummond stretch. On the up run, most of the climbing comes in the first half of the race.

The Comrades route has five registered hills, call them the “Big Five”. These are the stars of the show. In order of appearance they are: Cowies Hill, Fields Hill, Botha’s Hill, Inchanga and Polly Shortts. Three of the “Big Five” are found in the first half of the race. From the base of the first hill, Cowies, to the top of Botha’s Hill you climb 502 metres in the space of only 22 kilometres. Any seasoned campaigner will tell you this translates into a lot of steep climbing. The first half of the ‘up’ is challenging and early exuberance and bravado will be paid for dearly later on in the day.

The start is always 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 moderately warm in Durban even if it is near mid-winter. Depending on the size of the field, it takes between four to seven minutes to clear the line.

“Essentially, the ‘up’ run is all about self-control – and this control has to be exercised in the first half,” writes nine-time winner, Bruce Fordyce. The little maestro is right. Just take a look at the route profile and see what dramatic physical variations occur on the stretch between the start in Durban and the halfway mark at Drummond. Fordyce continues, “Controlled running in the first half will be rewarded by an exciting second half. The first part of the ‘up’ run is littered with hills, really tough hills. From the gun we have to start climbing them: Tollgate Hill to Cowies Hill is a long steady climb. In the cool dawn, lulled by excitement and strength, there is a danger you may run them too hard.”

Fordyce goes on: “From the start the secret is to be cautious and maintain control. Relax as much as possible. It is important to keep on checking that pre-race schedule to make sure you have not been carried away. None of these early hills should feel difficult to climb. You should cruise them, all the time reigning in your excitement and checking that your breathing is never heavy. You should be feeling strong, enjoying the scenery – and remember to drink often.”

"You should not attempt to race anybody. If someone surges ahead of you, let them go. You should also ignore the distance boards. The countdown of 80 kilometres to go, 75 kilometres to go, and so on is frightening. Rather, you should run to landmarks. The idea is to aim for the next major hill, rather than the next five kilometres – and aim to get there feeling strong.”

"As you enter Pinetown and find the dense crowds, you will feed off their support, but once again try to avoid being caught up in the excitement. Around Pinetown you will want to start drinking your special race formula drink in anticipation of the major efforts ahead.”

"Two major obstacles lie ahead: Fields Hill and Botha’s Hill. Both hills should feel like long, steady pulls, but should not be crippling. I always know whether I am going to have a good Comrades or not, as I climb Fields Hill. If Fields Hill feels easy and I am able to talk to the other runners, I know that I will conquer the ‘up’ run that day. If you have to walk on any of the major hills, walk. It is important to conserve your strength. Once you have climbed Fields Hill, a major obstacle is behind you."

At Botha’s Hill Village there are still about six to seven kilometres to run before the halfway point. There is a danger of rushing to the halfway point and being confused by the tree-lined bends and drops that lead to Drummond. At Drummond you run through a mass of spectators. Beware; the official halfway point is under the halfway banner, and nowhere else.”

Inchanga is a long, punishing pull that saps the strength. Take this cautiously; if you can reach the summit feeling strong, a great race is on the cards. But even at the top you still need to be cautious, the Inchanga climbing only ends at Radnor.

Once over the mighty hill, Inchanga, the bulk of the climbing is behind you. 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.

Now you start the slightly downhill run on the flat stretch to Cato Ridge and Camperdown. If you are feeling good you can make up time here. From Cato Ridge to Camperdown the running always gets tough. This is a deceptively uphill stretch and it is hard work in contrast to the easy coasting run down to Cato Ridge.

Bruce Fordyce picks up the journey from Camperdown: “Things start to really get tough as you fight fatigue and cramps. There is enormous crowd support in Camperdown, but there are three unnamed hills immediately after the village. I know them as Camperdown one, two and three. Camperdown three is the tough one. It is a steep, fairly long climb and it hurts. The good news is that it is followed by a welcome descent. Mentally, it is wonderful to be running well here because this is a very lonely part of the Comrades route. The scenery consists of hot, naked veld.”

"Umlaas Road is the highest point and here the race is either won or lost. If you are feeling strong, you can make up time on the drop to Tumble Inn. From Umlaas Road you can also see the dreaded Polly Shortts in the distance. If you have timed yourself well and run your race cautiously, this can be an inspiring sight. You are now finally able to see the hill that guards Pietermaritzburg and the finish.”

"From Umlaas Road you plunge steeply into Ashburton. Your legs will be sore, but you can make up time. For me, the toughest part of the race is Ashburton, or Little Polly’s as it is nicknamed. It is a deceptive and hard climb and it warns the tired runner just how tough Polly Shortts is going to be. For novices Little Polly’s is a trap. Too many believe it to be Polly’s itself and are left demoralised and beaten a little later when they meet the real Polly’s.”

"There is no mistaking the real Polly Shortts: after a drop from Ashburton, a slight bend in the road and a short bridge, the real hill begins. Polly Shortts is almost two kilometres long and bends deceptively three times. Each time you will be fooled into believing you are near the top. No one runs quickly up either Ashburton or Polly Shortts. Even front runners are occasionally compelled to walk. Speed up Polly’s is not important. The main thing is to keep progressing forward.”

"Don’t believe the lie that the race is all downhill from the top of Polly Shortts. There is still some running left to the finish. Pietermaritzburg has its fair share of undulations and with the change in finish venue, the last seven or so kilometres will prove a stern test for any, even the most experienced campaigners. But if your early race has gone well, the last stretch can be run confidently and well, and from now you can enjoy the massive crowd support. I have no doubt that the second half is far easier than the first half and it can be run strongly if the first half has been run judiciously.”

The following table defines the “Big Five” hills in terms of difficulty taking into account the length and steepness of the hill and the distance from the start.







Polly Shortts

Length (km)






Height (m)












Steep ratio












To summarise: The Comrades is characterised by five major hills, the "Big Five". Each presents a unique challenge. The first half of the route has the most dramatic variation in profile where you climb three of the Big Five before the halfway mark. By contrast the second half is flatter and easier. The halfway point and the end lie roughly at the same height above sea level, with the highest point – Umlaas Road – a mere 170 metres above Pietermaritzburg. The real challenge of the up run is to manage the difficulty ratio of the hills. This takes into account the length and steepness of each hill together with the distance from the start.

Polly Shortts may well be the shortest hill but it is the steepest. It is also the hardest by virtue of its distance from the start. Fields Hill is by far the longest and highest hill. Because this monster comes in the early stages of the race, it must be tackled cleverly, for it has the potential to make or break many Comrades Marathon dreams.


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.

An official photographer 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 2024. These are informative, educational and inspiring sessions with expert advice, lucky draw prizes and interaction with local running heroes. For further information email info@comrades.com


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 R260 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 "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 the Comrades Marathon back-to-back in subsequent years.

Novices who completed the 2023 “down” 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

Race Name Release Date Media Release
Comrades Marathon 07 June 2024
: Top Contenders in 2024 Comrades Marathon
Comrades Marathon 27 May 2024
Final Comrades Route Cut-off Revised
Comrades Marathon 16 May 2024
2024 Comrades Marathon Revised Cut-offs
Comrades Marathon 02 May 2024
Wally Hayward Marathon as a Comrades Qualifier
Comrades Marathon 02 May 2024
Submit your Comrades qualifying details by 6 May
Comrades Marathon 12 February 2024
Comrades Marathon Expo
Comrades Marathon 02 February 2024
Comrades Roadshow kicks off in Pietermaritzburg next Tuesday
Comrades Marathon 24 January 2024
Distribution of #Comrades2024 Finishers Jacket
Comrades Marathon 24 January 2024
Comrades2024 Finishers Jacket

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

NAME Johan Van Staden
EMAIL johan@comrades.com
NUMBER 033-8978650

KwaZulu-Natal Greater Edendale 10 km Run/Walk 01 January 2024 FNB Wadley Stadium Edendale Pietermaritzburg Thami Vilakazi 083-4139827
KwaZulu-Natal National Youth Run 01 January 2024 Durban Exhibition Centre The Sectretary



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 2021 this classic challenge celebrated its centenary. In 2024 it will  be the 97th 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. As long as the Wall of Honour stands, I know in one way or another I shall be there forever. Visit the website at www.comrades.com.

Time Limit: 12:00

Finishers: 14898