Traditional marathon fans are used to the best runners in the world dominating the typical 26.2-mile course, but the 2014 Comrades Marathon from South Africa is 89 kilometers long (55.3 miles) and has been dubbed the world’s most famous ultramarathon.
The 89th annual Comrades Marathon features a strict limit of 18,000 runners that will take the “down course” from Pietermaritzburg (in the hills of South Africa) to the coastal city of Durban overlooking the Indian Ocean.
With some of the best runners in the world testing their endurance over the grueling course, fans of the sport will witness a true test of the human body and spirit.
Here is all the vital information needed to enjoy Sunday’s marquee race.
Where: Durban/Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
When: Sunday, June 1
Start Time: 5:30 a.m. local time
Watch: Not televised
Route and Course Map
*Map via Comrades.com.
|2014 Comrades Marathon Weather|
|Date||High/Low||Chance of Rain||Wind|
|June 1||82/ 61||20 percent||SW at 12 mph|
The weather for Sunday’s race looks to be ideal. According to Weather.com, the temperature will start off at a brisk 61 degrees and steadily increase over the course of the day to 82 degrees.
With a low chance of rain (just 20 percent) and wind not playing much of a factor into the game plan for the runners, Mother Nature has cleared the way for one of the most entertaining ultramarathons in a long time.
Breaking Down the 2014 Comrades Marathon
To many runners and athletes, running 55.3 miles from the hills of South Africa to the Indian Ocean is a test too tough to tame. For others, this is the event they train all year to accomplish.
Just finishing the event deserves great praise, but there are several top names looking to walk away with a monumental victory.
Defending men’s champion Claude Moshiywa won the event on the “up” course in 2013—the inverted version of the path the competitors will run this year—and he will be looking to become the first South African to win back-to-back Comrades Marathons since 1988. Bruce Fordyce was the last man to accomplish that feat.
The last man to win the “down” course was Ludwick Mamabolo in 2012. While he brought great honor to the locals when he became the first South African winner since 2005, there was a cloud of controversy that surrounded his finish.
According to Riel Hauman of Competitor.com, Mamabolo tested positive for “the banned substance methylhexaneamine.” Hauman goes on to report that a second test was also deemed positive for the substance, but a series of errors in the testing process allowed him to keep his win on a technicality.
Mamabolo will try to clear his name by winning the race once again.
In the women’s race, all eyes are on South African star Charne Bosman as she vies to become the first local female champion since Rae Bisschoff in 1998. The road to a victory will not be easy, though.
Twin Russian sisters Elena and Olesya Nurgalieva won 10 of the last 11 Comrades Marathons and 17 times overall. Add in the fact that previous South African winners Bisschoff and Tilda Tearle will also be in the field, and Bosman will have to fight for this victory.
With fierce competition in both the men’s and women’s races, even casual marathon fans will be in awe as the best runners in the world tackle the ultramarathon course.
There is no doubt that the beautiful scenery of the South African landscape will help the runners enjoy the competition, but that won’t make much of a difference in the 89-kilometer event.
*All stats and information via Comrades.com.