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09-Jun-2019 Pietermaritzburg, South Africa


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Road Race Race Terrain
89KM / 55Miles
1 Day - 18000 Runners

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Intermediate  

Entry From 2000 ZAR

Comrades Marathon Origins

The first Comrades Marathon was run on Empire Day 24 May 1921, when 34 runners lined up before the Pietermaritzburg City Hall to commence a race to Durban to commemorate the spirit and camaraderie of the soldiers who fought in the Great War. It owes its origins to the tireless efforts of its founder Vic Clapham (war veteran & SA Railways engine driver) whose vision it was to create a living memorial to the spirit of his “comrades” who suffered so greatly in the war.

The first race was run on old dust roads, with the runners having to pass through several gates and at least one stream. It was won by Bill Rowan, a 26-year old Transvaal farmer in a time of 8:59, which would be the slowest winning time in the history of the race. There were 16 official finishers of the first race.

Official Race Distance

Either direction, the course is undulating and extremely difficult, including several infamous hill climbs on both the “up” and so called “down-runs”. The distance varies from year to year depending on final arrangements concluded with traffic and local authorities.

Time Limit

The time limit for the Comrades Marathon is 12 hours.

The entry fee is R380 for South African entrants, R600 for the Rest of Africa and R2000 for International entrants.


The Comrades Marathon attracts competitors from throughout South Africa and around the world. It is widely considered to be the most significant ultra-marathon event in the world and therefore attracts the best ultra-distance athletes. It is also regarded as one of South Africa’s most popular and inclusive sporting events and attracts runners of all ages (above 20), all genders, all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and all levels of athletic ability.


Event Organiser
delaine cools



Elevation: Very little change < 500 metres. Benign running terrain, not technical.

Suitable for: First ultra runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running in the last six months.


Elevation: Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed at least one ultra distance race (or similar event) or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.


Elevation: Increase of up to 1500 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.


Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat) and or technical terrain

Suitable for: Experienced runners who have completed at least regular ultra distances in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.


Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude) and or technical terrain.

Suitable for: Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Endurance - Multi-activity

Type: An ultra distance race including at least two of the following activities such as running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing and climbing. It may also include different climatic conditions (eg ice, snow, humidity, cold water, mud or heat).

Suitable for: Experienced multi-skilled athletes who have trained for the different activities included in this event. Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements and any specialist equipment required such as a wetsuit, skis or a mountain bike.

Global - Virtual

Type: A virtual race which can be run at any time shown on the dates shown, on any type of terrain in any country.

Suitable for: For runners from beginners to experienced as you choose your own course and challenge based on the guidelines and options set by the virtual race organiser.

Review Comrades

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04:15 19-02-18

Ran back to back in 2016 and 2017 (down run and up run). The experience was incredible. There were more then enough water / endurance drink / soda stops along the way, coupled with boiled salted potatoes, cookies and other snacks. Fan support was amazing during the entire route. I found the up run (11:06) much more difficult than the down run (10:23), due to the elevation gain, although both races have a combination of elevation gain and drop. I used a tour company, so logistics to / from the start were not an issue. I would encourage runners to sign up with a tour group that can provide bag drops along the course - this allows you to re-stock food, water, salt tablets, etc. A really great experience!

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01:53 18-08-17

Comrades is simply the BEST running race in the World. I totally loved my first experience in 2017 and I'm already planning my 2018 back-to-back run. Can't wait.

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09:10 08-06-17

https://runnersknees.com/2017/06/05/race-review-the-comrades/ Although I got injured a third of the way in, this has to be the ultimate human race. Amazing from start to finish but brutal for sure.

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03:59 10-09-16

Ran 2016 for the first time, down year. Second 'ultra' (50 miles or more). Amazing experience though I ran an 11hr 40 min time. I was amazed at the crowds both running and long the way. The buses (pace groups) sometimes were too big to manage and I could not figure out if they were actually on the right finish time. The aid stations were well run, stocked and the medical assistance to rub something like Icy-hot on your legs at mile 40 were super. I think I'd actually prefer the up-year over the down. Pounding on road for that long is difficult for the legs. Still, I finished happy, not hating running and ready to go again! More about the total experience here: http://kstergskiy.blogspot.com/

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06:57 28-06-16

2016 marked my second comrades and my back to back medal. My 2015 (9:54) race was incredible. I think there is so much excitement in completing this event for the first time...your first time will forever be the most special one; 2016 (10:47) was not as incredible, but certainly taught a good few life lessons. The race completely humbled me and made me realise that running 90km is no easy feat. Rather it is a life-changing experience not to be tested or entered flippantly, but it is a race to be respected. This race will expose your character, and make you feel that if you can complete it, you can do ANYTHING!!!!

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06:52 27-06-16

Got my comrades back-to-back medal 2016 in just over 7hours. Comrades marathon goes beyond words and should be on every runner's list. I will be back next year and many more years to come! Comrades is a way of life - it humbles you , defines you, builds you and most of all it reminds us why we run

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07:10 25-06-16

2016 was my first Comrades. Was aiming for an 11hour run but hit a wobbly around 40km in. Going to see a specialist this week as my knees haven't come right yet. Finished in a calculated 11:57 close but I knew I had it in the bag with 7km to go. Unforgettable!

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03:08 25-06-16

I have run the Comrades Marathon 7 times. From 2010 I have made the annual pilgrimage to Durban to join 20000 other ultras to tackle this amazing race. Comrades is the most amazing running experience you'll ever get in 90 km. The route is tough undulating hills and the cut off times are strict. But the human spirit that envelopes the race makes the whole day go by faster. The amazing crowd support Spurs you on! The crowds line practically the entire length of the race offering beer and braaid boerwores.
It's easy to get carried away in all the excitement but the race is run gun to gun and the heartbreak of missing the 12 hr cutoff by seconds is a tearful sight to even watch!
Overall - the best road run. Ever!

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06:55 24-11-15

Fantastic! Everything shone...the organisation, the sun, the support and the calibre of runners.

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02:27 22-06-15

I did my first Comrades marathon this year (2015). It was my second ultra distance race and I loved it. It is really, really hard and if you don't respect the distance it will chew you up and spit you out. But put in the work and it is possible to finish. The feeling of achievement when you cross that finish line and get that medal is worth all the pain and sacrifice! Race organisation is amazing and roadside support is unsurpassed anywhere. You have to experience it to believe it.

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