Running the Comrades Marathon is an ambitious goal for any athlete, but achieving the prestigious Bill Rowan Medal adds an extra layer of challenge and accomplishment. 

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a relative newcomer to the ultra-running scene, the Bill Rowan Medal represents a significant achievement that requires dedication, commitment, and strategic training.

Setting Your Sights on the Bill Rowan

For many runners, the Bill Rowan Medal serves as a beacon of accomplishment, signalling not only the completion of the gruelling Comrades Marathon but also the ability to finish within a specific time frame. 

To become a Bill Rowan candidate, it’s essential to understand the criteria and what it takes to reach this milestone.

Related: The 9 Comrades Marathon Medals (and what it takes to get them)

Requirements Of The Bill Rowan Medal

The Bill Rowan Medal is awarded to Comrades Marathon finishers who complete the race in under 9 hours. This achievement requires an average pace of 6:16 minutes per kilometer for the duration of the race, covering a distance of approximately 90 kilometers. 

While this may seem daunting, it’s certainly attainable with the right approach and training regimen.

Crafting Your Training Plan

To become a Bill Rowan candidate, you’ll need to tailor your training plan to focus on speed, endurance, and recovery. Here’s a suggested approach:

  1. Recovery Period: After completing a Comrades Marathon, allow yourself ample time to recover fully. Take a break from running for at least three weeks to allow your body to heal and rejuvenate.
  1. Build Gradually: Ease back into training with light, low-intensity workouts to rebuild your base fitness gradually. Focus on cross-training activities like swimming or cycling to maintain cardiovascular fitness without putting too much strain on your legs.
  1. Speed Work: Once you’ve recovered, shift your focus to speed work and interval training. Incorporate shorter, faster runs into your weekly routine to improve your overall pace and endurance.
  1. Distance Runs: As your training progresses, gradually increase the distance of your long runs to build endurance. Aim to complete several long runs of 30 kilometers or more to prepare your body for the rigors of race day.
  1. Race-Specific Training: In the months leading up to the Comrades Marathon, simulate race conditions by incorporating hills, varying terrain, and race-day nutrition into your training runs. Practice pacing strategies to ensure you can maintain a steady pace throughout the race.
  1. Tapering: In the weeks leading up to the race, gradually reduce your training volume to allow your body to rest and recover before race day. Focus on maintaining your fitness while minimizing the risk of injury or burnout.

Related: Mastering the Perfect Taper for the Comrades Marathon

Becoming a Bill Rowan candidate requires dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to push your limits. While the journey may be challenging, the sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with crossing the finish line within the allotted time frame is unmatched.Whether you’re a seasoned athlete aiming for a personal best or a relative newcomer with aspirations of achieving greatness, the Bill Rowan Medal represents the pinnacle of success in the world of ultra-running. By following a structured training plan, listening to your body, and staying committed to your goals, you can turn your Comrades Marathon dreams into reality.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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