The race that is the Comrades Road closures

2015-05-21 06:00
PHOTO: supplied

Comrades Marathon readiness.

PHOTO: supplied Comrades Marathon readiness.

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AS thousands of runners prepare for the 90th Comrades Marathon, plans in Pietermaritzburg­ are coming to an end as organisers get ready for the finish at the Oval cricket grounds in Alexandra Park.

Runners from all over the world will be making their way to the finish line - there are over 20 000 South African runners taking part with the United Kingdom having 352 runners and the third highest country being Australia with 251.

Tracy Elliott, chief executive officer of Kwa-Zulu-Natal Inland Cricket, said that preparations for the finish of the Comrades were well under way with excitement building up.

Spectators could look forward to a fantastic finish venue where they can enjoy the runners and good weather she said.

“There will be plenty of action and entertainment for all throughout the day though.”

The Netcare 911 medical emergency number to remember is 082 911, which should be used for medical assistance for runners.

The Adcock Ingram Critical Care Medical Tent at the finish has about 70 doctors and interns, 20 nurses and a mini-laboratory. There are 46 refreshment stations along the route for runners.

The winners, male and female, can expect a purse of R375 000 each with the top 10 finishers also getting prize money. Should the winners of the 2015 Comrades Marathon break the best time previously recorded for the up run, he or she will receive R1.5 million. All prizes including prize money, trophies and/or special medals will only be issued once drug test results have been received and subject to clearance.

The oldest runners this year are Robert Bezuidenhout­ (82) and Patsy Clemmans (70) with the youngest runners some 50 years younger - Ngwako Mautle (20) and Sumare Diedericks­ (20).

The race starts at the Durban City Hall and will finish at the Oval in Pietermaritzburg. The time limit of the 87.72km race is 12 hours.

Comrades Marathon origins

The first Comrades Marathon was run on Empire Day 24 May, 1921, when 34 runners lined up at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall to start 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, war veteran, Vic Clapham whose vision it was to create a living memorial to the spirit of his comrades who suffered greatly in the war.

The first race was run on 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.

Comrades Marathon traditions

Over the years the race has evolved its own set of traditions. Since its inception in 1921, the Comrades Marathon has officially started with the firing of a gun by either the mayor of Durban or Pietermaritzburg, depending on the start venue, while his or her counterpart of the finish city welcomes the winner and receives an official letter of greeting, which is exchanged between the two cities every year.


Gold (one ounce) first 10 men and women.

Wally Hayward, position 11 to sub 6 hours.

Silver 6 hours to sub 7:30.

Bill Rowan, 7:30 to sub 9 hours.

Bronze 9 hours to sub 11 hours.

Vic Clapham, 11 hours to sub 12 hours.

“Green numbers”

Traditionally runners retain their race numbers from year to year, while after completing 10 Comrades the runner is awarded their “green number” in perpetuity, meaning that it is henceforth reserved for its owner. It is also possible to earn a green number with either three wins or five gold medals. The record for the most Comrades completed by man and woman respectively are held by Dave Rogers, who has completed 45 and Kleintjie Van Schalkwyk who has completed 30 (prior to 1975 women were not permitted to participate)


The Comrades Charity initiative, founded 13 years ago in a bid to promote charitable fundraising in South Africa, Amabeadibeadi is the official charitable fundraising platform of the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA).

Through its campaigns, projects and other social responsibility undertakings, the CMA makes a positive difference to the social landscape.

The six official charities of Amabeadibeadi are:

• Community Chest of Durban and Pietermaritzburg

• PinkDrive

• Sports Trust

• Starfish-Greathearts

• Wildlands

• World Vision

‘As you pass under the banner indicating “Comrades Marathon 2015 Finish” you will also realise that the greatest runner ever produced by the world’s greatest race is … you.’

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