The Comrades Marathon is a renowned sporting event which attracts both local and international entrants. Earning a comrades medal is the dream of many athletes across South Africa. Whether you have entered this year’s race or you aspire to enter future races here is everything that you need to know about the comrades – from running shoes and finding the perfect fitness tracker, to the Comrades Marathon route.
The Start of the Comrades
The Comrades Marathon has a rich history that dates back to 1918 just after the end of World War I. During this period the League of Comrades of the Great War was founded with the aim of supporting soldiers and the families who were affected by the war. A soldier, Vic Clapham, approached this association with his vision of holding an ultra marathon.
Vic Clapham did not initially gain support from the League and it was only two years later in 1921 that he gained their approval. The Comrades was first held on 24th May 1921 and it had at its roots the camaraderie of soldiers who had fought in World War I.
In the first race there were sixteen athletes who officially completed the race. Another note-worthy achievement was in 1923 when Frances Hayward became the first woman to run the race. Despite her entry being refused, Hayward pitched up on race day and competed anyway.
As she was denied official entry she didn’t receive a medal despite placing 28th. Spectators and runners gathered donations to award Hayward with a prize to honour her achievement.
Over the years the Comrades grew to become an internationally renowned sporting event.
The Comrades Marathon 2016 and what you can expect
The Comrades Marathon 2016 will take place on Sunday 29 May. The race begins at 5:30 and ends at 17:30. There is a maximum of 20 000 entry places for this event.
This year is a “down run”. The Comrades Marathon route extends over 90 km. Runners will gather at the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg to start the race. The finish line is located in Durban at Sahara Kingsmead Cricket Stadium.
South African entries closed at the end of last year and the entrance fee was R 420. Age restrictions apply to the event and runners must be 20 years or older on the date of the qualifying race. To be part of the Comrades Marathon runners must have a ChampionChip which is registered in their name.
ChampionChip has revolutionised event timing and results delivery for sporting events in Africa. ChampionChip was first released in 1994 and since then this innovative technology has been used in numerous top sporting events. During the race, runners must wear their ChampionChip as well as their race numbers on the back and front of their shirts.
The final cut-off point is 12 hours after the start of the race at 17:30. However it is important to note that there are also cut-off points throughout the race. The first cut off point is at 8:10 at Lion Park-N3 Subway and the second point is at Cato Ridge – N3 subway at 10:00.
The midway cut off point is at 11:30 in Drummond. Runners need to reach Winston Park by 13:30, St John’s Avenue by 15:00 and Sherwood 45th cutting by 16:40 to stay in the race.
Preparing for this ultra marathon
If you plan to run the comrades you will need the right equipment both for training and for the race. One of the most important items that you will need are running shoes. Owning a good pair of running shoes is vital for intensive training.
A fitness tracker is also useful when you are training for the comrades. The benefit of these types of sporting equipment is that it monitors your activity, heartbeat and sleep. Some models will show your progress on a built-in display while others will provide your fitness data on a smartphone app.
More expensive fitness trackers have GPS functions which show your speed and distance. When you are choosing one of these amazing trackers, its affordability, comfort and features should all be considered.
Top Tip: If you are thinking of purchasing one of these cool gadgets to help you out with training, be sure to read our ‘Sports Equipment: The best fitness trackers of 2016’ post.
When it comes to the Comrades tracker equipment can play a crucial role in getting you to the peak of your performance.
Whether you are supporting an athlete or you competing in this year’s Comrades Marathon it is helpful to know what to expect on the day. With the right equipment and extensive training you can reach your dream of obtaining a Comrades medal.
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