Comrades 2010 expected to set Guinness world record

2010-05-28 00:00

SUNDAY’S 85th Comrades Marathon will set a Guinness world record as the ultra-marathon with the greatest number of finishes.

This is a title that the 2010 edition can be expected to defend at least until 2012 as the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) have announced that the 2011 race will be restricted to 18 000 entries

Announcing their plans for the entry process for the up-run on Sunday, 29 May, 2011, the CMA confirmed that numbers are limited for safety concerns.

“We would have liked to build on this year’s numbers, but we are limited by the size of stadiums and venues available in Pietermaritzburg,” said Dave Dixon, CMA chairperson.

“We are extremely pleased with the 2010 entry and registration, but runners need to acknowledge that maximum numbers are determined purely on safety issues both along the route and at the start and finish venues.”

The 2011 up-run will cover the shorter but hillier route from Durban’s City Hall to the Midlands Oval in Pietermaritzburg.

The recruitment campaign that was initiated in May 2009 for the 2010 race attracted over 23 500 entries.

“We had to turn away many more entries, particularly from novices,” said Dixon.

Allowing for the non-qualifiers and last-minute injuries and illness, it is expected that close to 19 000 runners will line up on Chief Albert Luthuli Road to await Max Timball’s cock crow and the crack of the gun at 5.30 am on Sunday.

The entry and finish processes are being strictly monitored this year in order that the total numbers can be ratified and submitted to the Guinness Book of Records. Although there were over 24 000 entries in the millennium year, the necessary documentation was not sufficient for the ratification process

In a change from 2010, all prospective 2011 runners, whether previous Comrades runners or not, will share the same three-month window for entry which commences on Wednesday, September 1, 2010, and closes on Tuesday, November 30.

“The entry process will be closed as soon as the 18 000 limit has been reached, so the November 30 date only holds if 18 000 runners have not entered by that date,” said Dixon.

Following concerns and complaints raised by runners who entered the 2010 race but are now unable to run Sunday’s event, Dixon conceded that there would be a review of the current rulings. “We will review the suggestions for refunds, substitutions or contributions to charity of those runners who have to withdraw prior to race day, but this has also to take in the practicalities of race organisation.”

“It must be borne in mind that entry fees account for only 15% of the total cost of running the race,” said general manager Gary Boshoff.

“At the end of the day the event has a defined budget which has to be met whether that is raised through sponsorship or entry fees.”

Entries for 2011 will be accepted online, at Mr Price Stores and by post and by hand at the Comrades House in Pietermaritzburg. The 2011 entry fee for South African runners will be increased by 17% to R270.

— WR.

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