My favourite ultramarathon
The Comrades marathon is the world’s oldest and largest ultramarathon, run over a distance of 89km (55.9 miles) 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. 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.
Athletes currently have 12 hours to complete the course, which 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.
My blind South African friend Francois Jacobs and I finished the 89 kilometres just under the 12-hour cut-off time in 11:46:00.
In the media:
To run the Comrades is probably one of the highlights of any runner’s itinerary. To run across South African’s beautiful countryside, encouraged by 100,000 specators and millions of viewers on TV, and arriving in a jam-packed stadium after grueling 89 kilometres is an unforgettable experience. My time then was 9:46:00