Numbers that keep the Comrades ticking

2013-05-29 00:00

THOUSANDS of athletes are in the home straight ahead of Sunday’s Comrades Marathon, with the training done and no thought of turning back at the last moment.

It’s the 88th edition of the race and is an up-run, starting in Durban at 5.30 am and the final gun sounding at 5.30 pm at Pietermaritzburg Oval.

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has confirmed a final total of 19 722 entries, of which 15 383 are men and 4 339 women. The number of women’s entries sees their participation in the race remain steady at 22%, with the CMA wanting to increase this to 30% over the next five years.

In the field are 4 295 novices, while international interest and participation have increased from last year. This time around, 1 422 foreign athletes take on the journey from nearly 70 countries, opposed to 1 374 foreigners last year.

While it’s satisfying for the CMA to see the entry list hover just below the 20 000 mark, race director Johan van Staden does not expect anything near that number at the start.

“I have been race director for a while and know that between 15 000 to 16 000 will be at the start.”

The substitution process, whereby runners who entered the race can no longer run yet have nominated someone else to take their place, has seen 729 successful applications.

But, besides the usual numbers of the race such as the distance, the winning time and number of finishers, there are interesting statistics that bring out the character and colour of the race.

South Africa obviously boasts the most entrants with 18 269, followed by the UK with 239, U.S. 216, Australia 185 and Brazil 132.

Canada has 51 runners, Japan 21, New Zealand 14, Russia eight, Hong Kong five, Italy three, Austria three and one each from Slovenia, Gabon, Thailand, Finland, Turkey, Guernsey, Phillipines, Latvia, Saudi Arabia and Bermuda among others.

There are 276 international women athletes and 914 men. The rest of Africa boasts 49 women and 183 men, with the average women’s age 40 and the men’s 41.

Sixty-two runners celebrate their birthdays on the road and there is personal glory for 500 athletes going for their green number (10 runs), 98 double green, 14 triple green and three quadruple green.

The youngest in the men’s field is Ebrahim Samsodien, aged 20, and Eyren Jane Wolfe-Coote at 21 is the youngest woman. At the other end of the scale, Desmond Robins at 83 is the oldest man and Masako Otonari (68) the oldest woman.

Age wise, the biggest men’s age category is the 40 -49 age group with 5 462 runners and the 30-39 group leads the women with 1 638.

A breakdown of provinces shows that 5 896 athletes come from central Gauteng, 4 058 from KZN, 2 216 from Gauteng North and 1 464 from Western Province. These provinces have the biggest contingent of athletes although there are 789 from Mpumalanga, 548 from the Free State, 362 from Eastern Province and even 36 from the Transkei area.

English is the most common language among athletes with 7 998, Afrikaans 4 857, Zulu 2 351, Tswana 671 and North Sotho 542 the top five. Xhosa sits at 530 and other languages include Portuguese (145), German (79), Arabic (39), Dutch (29), French (28), Gujurati (14), Swahili (4), Flemish (2), Tamil (2) and Pedi (1).

Most common surname in the field is Botha with 101 athletes bearing the name. Smith has 93, Dlamini 89, Van der Merwe 78 and Naidoo, Pretorius and Ndlovu 77.

Asics shoes are the most popular (8 495), while others prefer Nike (3 289), Reebok (2 238) Adidas (1 523) and Saucony (524).

Rand Athletic Club has the most runners with 511, followed by Irene Road Running Club with 305.

Most common occupation is manager (1 884), ahead of accountant/auditor (1 308), teacher (845), IT (821) and engineers (776). Least popular are hawkers (6), politicians (5), customs and excise (4) and mayor (1). There are 50 journalists mad enough to take on the race.

On the road, there are 370 pallets of water (1 900 000 sachets), 180 pallets of Energade (935 000 sachets), 800 kg bananas, 7 840 kg oranges, 800 kg chocolate, 800 000 bottles and cups, 1 300 kg of assorted biscuits, 3 950 box bins, three tons of boiled potatoes, 62 000 sachets Mega Load, 10 000 sachets Mageu Number One and 20 000 units of race food.

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