The Comrades Marathon – A Gruelling Test Of Stamina And Endurance

The Comrades Marathon Run Over A Distance Of 90km Is Arguably The Greatest Ultra Marathon In The World

The Comrades Marathon is the world’s oldest and largest ultra marathon run over a distance of approximately 90 km (55.9 mi) between the capital of the Kwazulu-Natal Province of South Africa, Pietermaritzburg, and the coastal city of Durban.

The direction of the race alternates each year between the up run starting from Durban and the down run starting from Pietermaritzburg.

The race is run over a strenuous course which can be best described by “The Big Five”. The Big Five are hills on the route of the marathon and, on the up run they appear in the following order: Cowies Hill, Field’s Hill, Botha’s Hill, Inchanga, and finally, Polly Shortts. On the down run there are an equally challenging set of hills, and many runners are surprised that a race described as down still has some exceptionally tough hills to climb, including Inchanga, Alverstone, Bothas Hill and Cowies Hill.

Athletes currently have 12 hours to complete the course. This was extended from 11 hours in 2003. There are a number of cut-off points along the routes which runners must reach by a prescribed time or be forced to retire from the race.

A runner who has successfully completed 9 marathons wears a yellow number, while those who have completed 10 races wear a green number, which is permanently allocated to the runner for all future races.Medals are awarded to all runners completing the course in under 12 hours.

It’s tough, but well worth the effort, I can not begin to describe the feeling of personal achievement after crossing the finish line.

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