Clivehaddow's Blog


The COMRADES MARATHON “Celebrate mankind’s spirit over adversity”

We recently have re-established contact with Di’s Nephew Stuart in South Africa after 25 years. In May Stuart ran the COMRADES MARATHON which if you have heard of this race is the pinnacle for any long distance runner. We asked Stuart to document his story about this race, to which, he agreed. We have decided to release Stuart’s story in 3 instalments –


We will be releasing Part 1 next week Monday 16th then Part 2 on Wednesday 18th and Part 3 the  final part of the story on Friday 20th.


I thought I would take this post to give you a little bit of the history of the COMRADES MARATHON so here goes

The Comrades Marathon is an ultramarathon of 90 km (55.9 mi) run in the Kwazulu-Natal Province of South Africa. It is the world’s largest and oldest ultramarathon race. The direction of the race alternates each year between the “up” run starting from Durban and the “down” run starting from Pietermaritzburg.


The race is run on the roads of KwaZulu-Natal Province, marked by “The Big Five” set of hills. On the up run they appear in the following order: Cowies Hill, Field’s Hill, Botha’s Hill, Inchanga, and finally, Polly Shortts.


The Comrades was run for the first time on 24 May 1921 (Empire Day), and with the exception of a break during World War II, has been run every year since. The 2010 event was the 85th race. To date, over 300,000 runners have completed the race.

Here are some interesting facts regarding the 2010 Comrades Marathon.

There were 23568 people who submitted their entries the year before, of which only 19096 met the qualifying criteria. Of those, only 17627 people actually registered  for the race and only 16480 actually started. That means that before the race actually started, there had been 7088 casualties. Out of the 16480 starters, only 14343 actually finished the race, i.e. 60% of the original field.

 Of the starters, 12787 (77%) were male and 3693 (23%) female. 43% of the finishers finish in the last hour i.e. between 11 and 12 hours. There fore to finish sub 11 hours puts you in the top 57%. The average age for men was 40 and 42 for females.

 There were 817 international runners that finished of which more than 100 were from Australia.

The race was the idea of World War I veteran Vic Clapham, to commemorate the South African soldiers killed during the war. Clapham, who had endured a 2,700-kilometre route march through sweltering German East Africa, wanted the memorial to be a unique test of the physical endurance of the entrants. The constitution of the race states that one of its primary aims is to “celebrate mankind’s spirit over adversity”.

From 1962 to 1994 the race was run on Republic Day, 31 May. After this public holiday was scrapped in 1995 by the post-apartheid South African government, the race date was changed to Youth Day on 16 June. In 2007, the race organisers (controversially) bowed to political pressure from the ANC Youth League, who felt that the race diverted attention from the significance of Youth Day, and changed the race date to Sunday 17 June for 2007 and 15 June for 2008. In 2009 and 2010 the date was changed (to 24 May and 30 May respectively) to accommodate football’s Confederations Cup (2009) and World Cup (2010) in South Africa.

Please join us next week when we look at this race through Stuart’s eyes.

Keep blogging



August 12, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. OK!! will do so!!

    Comment by Hildegard + Willy | August 12, 2010 | Reply

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