The Comrades Marathon, often referred to as “The Ultimate Human Race,” is one of the world’s most challenging ultramarathons, held annually in South Africa.
For many participants, the ultimate goal is to earn the Vic Clapham medal, named after the race’s founder, Vic Clapham. This prestigious award is bestowed upon runners who complete the grueling 90km (56 miles) down run or 87km (54 miles) up run within the 11 to 12-hour time frame.
While the journey to this accolade demands hard work and dedication, it is an attainable goal for runners who prepare wisely.
Ability and Training Requirements
The first step towards a Vic Clapham medal is assessing your running ability. Aspiring medalists should be able to run a 5km in approximately 30 minutes, complete a 10km race in around 62 minutes, finish a half marathon (21km or 13.1 miles) in 2 hours and 18 minutes, and achieve a marathon (42km or 26 miles) time under 4 hours and 50 minutes.
Training for such an arduous race demands a structured and well-rounded approach. Ideally, you should aim to run between 850 and 1000km (531 to 625 miles) in the 12 months leading up to the Comrades Marathon.
A comprehensive training plan is essential to develop the necessary endurance and strength, and the Vic Clapham Training Program is tailored to suit various ability levels.
An integral part of finishing Comrades within the 12-hour cutoff is maintaining a consistent pace. On the 90km down run, you should aim to average just under 8:00 minutes per kilometer or 12:48 minutes per mile.
For the 87km up run, the average pace increases slightly to 8:12 minutes per kilometer or 13:21 minutes per mile. These pacing benchmarks may not sound daunting, but they pose a significant challenge given the hilly terrain and distance of the race.
Vic Clapham Finishers Training Plan
A key component of success lies in following a suitable training plan. The Vic Clapham plan emphasizes consistency and recovery as crucial elements in preparing for the race. Select a plan that aligns with your current running ability to avoid overexertion and potential injuries.
Consistency is paramount throughout the 12-month training period. Staying committed to every session, adhering to recommended paces, and not deviating from the plan will put you in an advantageous position on race day. Following the plan diligently accounts for more than half the battle toward achieving the coveted Vic Clapham medal.
Providing adequate recovery time is just as vital as training itself. The Vic Clapham training plan incorporates four training days per week, with three rest days strategically placed to facilitate optimal recovery.
These rest days enable your body to recuperate and become stronger, ensuring you are well-prepared for the demands of the Comrades Marathon.
Race Day Strategy
Effective race day management plays a crucial role in achieving a sub-12-hour finish and earning the Vic Clapham medal.
Abide by the two golden Comrades time-saving rules: “Hold Back” and “Don’t Stop.” Resist the temptation to start too fast, as this can lead to burnout later in the race. Instead, maintain a steady pace that allows you to preserve energy for the latter stages.
The Run-Walk Strategy
To conserve energy during the marathon, consider employing a strategic run-walk approach. Alternate between running and walking during specific intervals, such as running for 10 minutes and walking for 1 minute. This strategy prevents premature fatigue and enables you to maintain a consistent pace for a more extended period, particularly on uphill sections.
Achieving the Vic Clapham medal at the Comrades Marathon is a remarkable feat that requires determination, meticulous preparation, and a smart race day strategy. By focusing on ability-specific training, consistency, and proper recovery, you can increase your chances of successfully completing the race within the 12-hour cutoff.
What does it take to finish Comrades in under 12 hours and get a Vic Clapham Medal?
From an ability perspective, I personally believe that any able-bodied person, who sets the goal and does the work required, can finish Comrades under the 12-hour cut-off.
To be in the reckoning for a Vic Clapham medal you need to be able to run a 5km in about 30 minutes, a 10km in around 62 minutes, finish a half marathon (21km or 13.1 miles) in 2:18 and a marathon (42km or 26 miles) in under 4:50.
As far as training mileage is concerned, you will need to run between 850 and 1000km (531 to 625 miles) from 1 January to Comrades Marathon race day.
We’ve written an extensive Comrades Marathon Training Mileage Guide that runs through those numbers in a lot more detail.
Embrace the challenge, stay committed to your goals, and savor every step of the journey toward earning this prestigious accolade.
Best of luck with your pursuit of the Vic Clapham medal at the Comrades Marathon!