Comrades Marathon prepares 89.3km route for runners

Posted on Feb 18, 2009 under Running | No Comment

The Comrades Marathon Association has confirmed that there will be no changes to the route for the Comrades Marathon “down run” which will be run on Sunday 24 May 2009.

It will be run on precisely the same route as the most recent “down run” in 2007 in which Leonid Shvetsov set a new best time of 5:20:41 for the “down run” having shattered Bruce Fordyce’s 21-year old previous best time of 5:24:07 set in 1986,

The distance for 2009 is confirmed as 89.3km.

Comrades Marathon has seen the implementation of numerous route changes since the race was first run on Thursday 24 May 1921, with the distance of the race having varied by as much as 5km from shortest to longest during the course of its history.

The earliest Comrades Marathons were run alternately between the City Halls of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, a distance estimated to have been approximately 56 miles.  The race was run largely on dirt roads, with the route passing through several gates and crossing at least one stream, while refreshments for the 30 – 100 competitors were provided by the few hotels situated on the route and supplemented by local farmers.

As population growth and development of the two cities and the rural areas between them progressed over a period of decades, the character and landscape of the province of KwaZulu-Natal obviously also changed dramatically.

Over the years, major and minor changes to the Comrades Marathon route consequently ensued – whether implemented as a natural outcome of infrastructural development, to alleviate traffic congestion, avoid temporary road construction or to accommodate the ever-increasing popularity of an event which grew to attract thousands of participants and hundreds of thousands of spectators.  Some changes were necessitated simply owing to the change of finishing venues.

From year to year, the exact route is subject to the outcome of negotiations conducted between CMA and traffic authorities.  In recent years there have been no changes implemented, with the route for the “down run” having stabilised at approximately 89km and the route for the “up run” at 87km.  The course is recognised as being extremely challenging in either direction, undulating with infamous hill climbs on both the “up” and “down runs”.

Comrades Marathon Race Director Renee Jordaan has confirmed that the organisers will be providing 48 refreshment stations for this year’s “down run” to cater for an anticipated 12,000 – 13,000 participants.  They will also provide extensive medical and emergency services, as well as a runners rescue service for those runners unable to complete the distance.

A reminder that the Closing Date for Entries is 31 March 2009.  Runners MUST submit their entries by Closing Date, but may still qualify up until 28 April.

On a historical note, according to Comrades Marathon “records”, the shortest Comrades Marathon run in recent years was an “up run” in 2002 measured at 86.5km and won by Vladimir Kotov in a time of 5:30:59.   The longest was a “down run” in 1982 measured at 91.4km and won by Bruce Fordyce in a time of 5:34:22.

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