1 800km run to the Comrades ‘crazy but doable’

Comrades Marathon (File)
Comrades Marathon (File)

Johannesburg - Six seasoned long-distance runners led by Dave Chamberlain will on Sunday be seven days from their goal of running the Comrades Marathon after a 1 800km, 20-day run from Cape Town.

The sextet - the other members are Morgan Cardiff, Alex Tucker, Mike Sewell, Koot Steenkamp and Carla Molinaro - undertook the Long Road to the Comrades Marathon project for individual reasons.

Each runner has his or her own strategies and personalities, but perhaps none quite as big as Steenkamp’s, whose afternoon ritual includes a shot of brandy to carry him home for the final 20km of the day.

The project - which some have labelled as crazy - is the brainchild of adventure runner Chamberlain. He was inspired by the Unogwaja Challenge, during which cyclists take 11 days to ride the same route and arrive in time for the Comrades.

The Ufudu plod was then born, replacing bikes with feet.

Chamberlain’s adventures usually involve a running stroller, tent, sleeping bag and a pair of shoes.

In 2012, he ran 2 300km along the desert coast of southern Africa in 47°C heat, solo and unsupported, using windmills on an old map to find water sources.

Highly respected sports medicine specialist Dr Shuaib Manjra said this week that the runners’ task was possible.

“It is humanly possible provided you train adequately in preparation, and have proper nutrition and physiotherapy treatment at the end of each day," Manjra said.

Manjra said he recently read about an individual who was running a full marathon (42km) a day for 30 days in a row and one who was doing a non-stop 24-hour run.

However, he warned that the runners may suffer some muscle damage - even athletes who just run the Comrades hurt their muscles.

“Running the Comrades over long periods does cause some muscle damage, but I can’t make a definite call on whether this particular race will cause some permanent muscle damage,” he said.

Manjra said recovering fully from running the Comrades could take between two to three months, but it didn’t completely rule out running another race in that period.

The runners have been posting their progress on their Facebook page. You can follow them on

Some of the posts:

- Carla Molinaro:

Day 1 in the bag! God that was tougher than I thought it was going to be but I had an awesome day with these guys!

. 94km

. 10:23:49

. 1 275m of climbing ... pretty much all in the last 15km!

. Day 3! Well that was emotional! This morning was beautiful and then the rain came. It rained for about eight hours and did not stop! Thank god for @robertroworth and @nattamac for bringing us warm clothes and tea, you are bloody legends!

. Distance - 90.2km

- Carla Molinaro

May 30 at 1.13pm Instagram

Day 9! Ouchy ouchy ouch ouch! Mike and I set out this morning for a little run we ended up smashing out a 5hr marathon! I felt awesome for the first 30km and then the pain train arrived! Thanks to @_mikesewell for pushing me through to 42km! It was awesome to meet Malcom, Franklin, Mark and Rudolph who were walking from Richards Bay to Cape Town to raise money for the Air Mercy Service, keep going guys you rock! @ Graaff-Reinet

. Day 10! We all got on the road in some way shape or form this morning but boy oh boy the pain is real! We have all pushed our bodies to breaking point and we are now trying to tick off as many miles as we can before @comradesmarathon it’s certainly been harder than we could have possibly imagined. It’s been an incredible journey so far and we are only half way through it! @InxubaYethemba

. This run is brutal but I’ve been offered two great pieces of advice tonight:

1. Float yourself to the top of the bath to get out!

2. Ride an ostrich tomorrow!

. Distance – 58.5km

. Time - 10:28:54

. Elevation – gain 1 357m, loss 2 065m @ Oudtshoorn, Western Cape

. With only 9 days to go to Comrades, it’s becoming difficult to balance running on injuries and trying to preserve our bodies for the big race on the 10th. On one hand wanting to throw caution to the wind and just run the miles, no matter the pain or discomfort, on the other, looking forward to sharing the road with 20 000 brothers and sisters, reaching with everything in our collective souls towards Durban ... towards victory.

The landscape of the Eastern Cape a feast to the eyes. Hilly vistas with rocky outcrops dotting the flowing grass oceans, thorny acacia and fiery aloes standing tall as soldiers ready for battle. Like soldiers that were once comrades ... comrades as we will be once again come June 10.

. Additional information Long Road to Comrades Marathon Facebook page and The Field Journal

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