Comrades FAQs

One week to go. And the people of the Comrades Marathon send out the FAQs answering questions, one can only assume, that all novice runners have been waiting to ask for months. Here are some of the pearlers, which I am certain are Comrades-specific:

Q: If I am carried across the finish line by a medical team, does this count as me actually finishing the race, as I ran all of but not the last 100 meters?
A: In terms of the rules you are required to complete the race on your feet, you would not be classified as officially finishing.

Q: Can I assist a struggling runner across the finish line?
A: Yes, you may, but you are not allowed to carry a fellow runner anywhere on the route and or finish areas. You may assist fellow runners but the assisted runner must still be able to move forward on his own.

Q: If I carry someone, will there be any negative consequences?
A: Yes, should you carry a fellow runner, the carried runner will be disqualified. It would be better to let the medical professionals on hand sort out the distressed runner.
The last one is a classic. For some 89 kilometres is just not enough - you also need to carry someone!
I'll be having a practise gallop tomorrow for the annual Muffin run. Run 10k's and eat as much as you can want. My weight still hovers around the 71 kg mark. Carbo loading begins tomorrow!
Just kidding of course - Sunday to Wednesday morning is about carbo depletion, that is, stay away from the pasta, potatoes and bread. Thereafter, on Wednesday afternoon, it's open season on the carbs until race morning. Not much running after Saturday's excursion - maybe a 5k run here or there.
The goal is to aim for a Bill Rowan which is a sub-9 hour Comrades. Silver is sub-7.30, maybe next year?
First do no harm,


  1. this is hilarious!! I'm going to have to print this out and take it to work for everyone to get a good laugh! I esp. love the "if I'm carried across the finish line...this this count?"

  2. I think you have missed the point: Obviously you are not really that familiar with this event: The Comrades Marathon was established by soldiers returning from the Great (ie WW1) War. They wanted to suffer for one day each year to remember their Comrades (hence the name) who did not return. One of the great traditions was that you never left a Comrade behind. If someone was struggling others would help and in many cases carry them the last few kilometres. It was all part of remembering those who didn't come back.

    If you have ever watched the race, you will know that runners area frequently carried and helped the last few hundred meters, and often the act of helping would jeopardise the helper's own race. But you never left a Comrade behind. Ever.

    Two years ago, as usual, runners went to the aid of their Comrades who had collapsed within a few hundred metres of the finish line. As usual many runners were carried over the line (never leave a Comrade behind). Very very sadly, two of the "helpees" died either while being helped or shortly after being carried over the finishing line. I know because I was there.

    As a result, the organisers have implemented a new rule that help may be given (only by other runners) but the assistance may only be given to runners still able to help themselves.

    So don't make fun of it. It is a deep part of Comrades Marathon, and may be hilarious to you, but if you haven't been there and been part of it, you would not understand.

  3. Thanks for the background info. It certainly does help to be reminded of these things. Noble endeavours and remembering the sacrifices of others is paramount in these strange days of misplaced values and efforts.

    Although I have been an avid supporter of the Comrades Marathon since my youth, I certainly could not have explained its origins other than a recollection that it stemmed from times of war. Probably an indicator of my age mixed with ignorance. But you have ignited an interest, which I'll investigate and report back on. Thanks.

    As for the rules of the race, I'm certain that they have a valid basis but for some folks out there who have not had the inspiration or opportunity to run a 5 kilometre fun run, let alone a regular marathon, these rules must read as somewhat incredible, almost absurd. Especially after 89 kilometres. After having done a handful of races around the globe, these rules are certainly unique and bring me down to earth rather rapidly every time I read them, especially 5 days prior to my first Comrades attempt.

    Interestingly enough, I did a quick search on, and discovered that the medal that I am aiming for was named after the World War I veteran Vic Clapham, who after considerable efforts on his part, was given permission to stage “the Comrades Marathon and for it to become a living memorial to the spirit of the soldiers of the Great War. Clapham persisted maintaining that if a sedentary living person could be taken off the street given a rifle and 60lb pack and marched all over Africa then surely a fit and able athlete could complete the distance.”

    Inspiring words to be remembered.

    Much respect,

  4. Best of luck and best wishes in your endeavour. Many like me will be watching enviously.

    I have completed the event more than a dozen times, and had planned to be there this year, but sadly I picked up an injury three weeks ago and will not be at the start line, outside the Maritzburg City Hall.

    And dont forget PCB. Post Comrades Blues. Thats what happens when a goal you have pursued for a long time, is finally achieved. Instead of a feeling of euphoria you end up just feeling flat and deflated in the days following the event. It sounds strange, but the better your performance, the bigger the black hole.

    So enjoy the day, the atomsphere at start is something that you will will never forget, and the run in from the top of Cowies Hill is the most draining experience you can imagine. Running into Kingsmead/Sahara stadium is thrilling, and most emotional of all is watching the countdown to the final cut-off gun at 12 hours. I have never watched it without being brought very close to tears.

    Oh yes: I live in Australia, but the experience of participating in this event make the trip Maritzburg more than worth while. Just can't be there this year.

  5. You have rekindled lots of my childhood memories. I used to watch the Comrades every year in the early days of SABC, wide-eyed as to the thousands that made it, and those few that failed. And then run around the house as many times as I could in my white and green Dunlop tennis shoes.

    My training hasn't gone as well as I had planned, only 500k's in the bag since December. Some of the guys out there think 900k's is about the minimum? But I have the Ironman training under my belt; I am running with my brother; and I do not give up easily. Hopefully, traits sufficient enough to get me to the stadium!

    Yesterday I mentioned I was going for the Vic Clapham medal. Tis a lie - I meant to say I am going for the Bill Rowan sub-9. But after my incredibly tough Two Oceans, I'm happy to fall short of that and just finish. I'll settle for the Vic Clapham - no problem.

    Vasbyt (Afrikaans for Hold Fast),

  6. I am more impressed now.

    A Bill Rowan is a good target!

  7. The idea is to hit half way just over 4hrs, and then hold on to beat my brother's PB of 8.34. Failing that we’re doing a sub-9. Failing that a finish (with dignity). Pace of about 5.30 per kilometre. Ai caramba!!

  8. So what was the result?

    And by the way, thats a nice photo at the top of this page. If I am not mistaken, is is on the bridge across the creek before Little Pollys (on the up run)

  9. That is Pollys, not sure exactly where?

    I finished with my brother in 10.52. Glad I got to the end of the race because there were some extremely dark moments there. On target for 8.30 until 40k's when the wheels fell off........race report will follow in the week. I'm still walking like a giraffe gearing up for a watering hole ;o)