How to calculate your Comrades finishing time

Posted on May 12, 2009 under Comrades Marathon | No Comment

No matter how good your training has been, when it comes to Sunday 24 May 2009, you better have a strategy on how you are going to run to reach your goal.

By following the steps below you will be able to:

  • A prediction of your realistic finish time
  • The information you require to determine which Comrades Wrist Bands you require for pacing
  • Instructions on how to use the pacing band
  • Note: Pacing Bands are ONLY available at the Comrades Expo Stand for R30 with the money going towards the Comrades Charities.

What is your Realistic Potential Finish Time?

  • Look back at all your race times of the past 12 months and select the best three performances
  • All three times should be flat out races / time trials
  • Ideally have a 5km or 10km race time from late April or early May
  • Include your best 42km or 56km time in the last 12 months
  • Play with the choice of your third time, which may be a repeat of one of the others or a distance between them, but use the one that gives the best Comrades finish time – This will be your best realistic starting time!

How much have you trained?

  • Find your predicted finish time on table 1.
  • Under the finish time find the marathon time closest to your PB
  • Determine the corresponding required training distance.
  • How does that compare to your total training distance between December and May?
  • If you are over 15% higher or lower ADD (in both cases) 15-20 minutes to your predicted Potential finish time.
    [Note: this confirms that if you do too much you get slower NOT faster finishing times]
  • Now go to this new finishing time and see which pacing band you require. (7 Hour to 12 Hour)
  • Go to the Coach stand at Comrades Expo and buy your pacing band for R20
  • The Pacing points are shown on photographs here and will be marked on race day with yellow tape across the road.

Visualise and Run the Comrades Route by Podcast:
Norrie Williamson will take you over the whole 89.17km Down-Run describing exactly where each of the hills and downhill sections are, and providing advice on where to hold back. This in-depth podcast allows you to be sure of exactly where the different pacing points are and to relax and visualize yourself running the route. Together with the pacing point photos it’s the ideal way for those who have not seen or experienced the route to get a better understanding of what they will face on Sunday 24 May. For previous Comrades Runners it’s a reminder of those tricky hills you have forgotten about – but lie in wait to trip you on Comrades day.
For pod cast of the full route description click here
(Note: The podcasts are quite long so do take time to download and are best heard on ADSL / 3G platforms)

The Pacing Bands

Each pacing band has 14 pacing points with corresponding times that you should run to and through these points.
To see pictures of these points Click HERE Each point has a photo, together with a indication and short description of where they can be found on the route. These points will be marked with distinctive yellow tape on the road on race day.

Average Pace

Although each band has an average pace, it would be impossible to run the Comrades route constantly at that pace. The pacing on the Comrades Wrist band takes into account the grueling and highly diverse nature of the Down Comrades in timing your run through to Durban. This means that in some sections you will be considerably slower than average pace, where these slower times are bought back by running slightly faster over the longer downs.

Run and Walk to success

Any runner with a finish over 7 hours should incorporate a run and walk schedule into the pacing. As a guide 9:00 and under should run 9km with 2-3minute walks, 9:00 to 11:00 should run 6 km with 2-3 min walks, 11-12 hour finishers can work on 3km with 2-3 min walks. Some runners are so sold on the run and walk schedule that they simply mix 9 minutes of running with 1 minute of walking the whole way through, and are then able to blast the last sixth of the race to the finish. The important principle in any run and walk regime is to start this regime right from the gun and continue it throughout the race, DO NOT wait until you are tired: by then it’s too late!

Silver, Bill Rowan, and Bronze Cut offs:

If your predicted time indicates that your potential is such that you would miss this medal by less than 10 minutes, buy the pacing band for the medal category above. (e.g. a 9:05 predicted time buys the 9:00 pacing band). However remember this is a stretch for you and will only happen if everything goes well on the day. You must then add 2/3rds of the difference between your predicted time and the medal cut-off time to the time at the BP Garage in Winston Park. From there gradually close in back onto the scheduled time at 45th cutting. If it’s your day this is your best chance!

Delays at the Start:

Runner’s further back in the field will take a few minutes to cross the start line and generally in Comrades this is a Good Thing as it prevents you from getting caught up in the adrenaline boosted rush of the start – More Comrades are lost in starting too fast than any other failing. However these minutes become more valuable for runners who are borderline to any of the cut-off times (Silver, Bill Rowan, Bronze or the final cut-off).
It is important that you do not try to make up this time in the first few kilometres but rather stretch it over a long period – particularly on the down run as the first 24km are predominately uphill and increasing pace by even 5 seconds on many of these climbs will rocket your effort levels and use up more of your glycogen stores, leaving you without energy for the final section of the race.
There’s only about 10km of down in the first section to Camperdown and then rolling road through to the bottom of Inchanga. If the time taken to cross the line is important to you getting under one of the cut off’s, the advice is to divide half of this time by 30 and increase you pace by that on each kilometre of downhill and the section from Camperdown to half way. The remainder you will easily make up from Hillcrest to the finish. For example if it takes five minutes to cross the line, you would increase your pace by 5 seconds per km on the downhill from the start to Camperdown, and on each kilometre from Camperdown to Half way, (except the climb up Inchanga), and then make up the remaining two and a half minutes between the top of Botha’s Hill down to the finish. In running ultra’s always keep in mind – “slowly slowly catch a monkey’ and you won’t go far wrong.

Distance Jan to June 07:00 07:30 08:00 08:30 09:00 09:30 10:00 10:30 11:00 11:30 12:00
42km PB 02:35 03:00 02:35 03:13 02:48 03:26 03:07 03:39 03:13 03:52 03:33 04:05 03:39 04:18 03:50 04:30 04:15 04:30 04:45 05:00
Min 1200 1000 1000 1100 1000 1100 1000 1000 1000 1000 1100
Max 1950 1900 1800 1700 1600 1550 1450 1300 1200 1200 1200
Average Comrades Pace (Min per Km) 04:42 05:02 05:22 05:42 06:03 06:23 06:43 07:03 07:23 07:43 08:04

Comrades Calculator © by Norrie Williamson

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