Price range, per nightmin R max R
*All distances listed are as the crow flies, and not actual travel distances.
Unlike other ultra-marathons, the 89km Comrades Marathon is run between two major cities along a well-maintained regional road and participants are cheered on by spectators lining the entire route. This gruelling race is run between Durban and Pietermaritzburg every May and thousands of runners from all across the globe participate. Both cities come to a standstill on the day as the race brings a festive atmosphere to racegoers and onlookers.
The Comrades marathon was first run in 1921 to honour the WW1 dead and each year the race is alternated, with the ‘down’ run beginning in Pietermaritzburg and the ‘up’ run starting in Durban. In order to enter the race, runners must have completed a standard marathon within 5 hours and for the Comrades there is a 12 hour cut-off. Organisers have the event perfectly planned, the entry process is slick, parking is available, refreshment stations are spaced every 2-3km and marshals are placed along the route to ensure the race is run incident free.
Torturous climbs on the ‘Big 5’ is where race fitness and training is found out. The Big 5 are hills spread along the route, these being Polly Shorts, Cowies Hill, Fields Hill, Botha’s Hill and Inchanga. Many an athlete has crumbled while climbing Polly Shorts.
A great deal of money has been raised for charity over the years by the Comrades marathon organisers and runners who donate generously to various good causes.
The record number of entrants is 24500 in the year 2000 and the fastest runs were done by David Gatebe of South Africa on the down run in 2016 at 5hrs 18mins and Leonid Shvetsov of Russia who in 2008 ran the up run in a record 5hrs 24mins. For the ladies, South African Frith van der Merwe’s amazing 1989 down record of 5hrs 54 mins still stands, while Russian Elena Nurgalieva holds the up record at 6hrs 9mins. Nurgalieva has won the Comrades a record 8 times in the woman’s category.