So, picture this: you’re gearing up for the Comrades Marathon, eyeing that finish line with determination in your heart. 

But, there’s that nagging question on your mind: Can I actually win this thing? 

It’s a valid concern. So, let’s find out…

Deciphering the Challenge

I would need to know what your marathon time is because your marathon time will give me an idea then of how much mileage versus speed work and hill work you would need to do to give yourself a chance.

Find out which Marathon Training plan you should be following

What are the chances?

Then from there, I would be able to realistically tell you if you have any real chance of winning that medal. 

To win the Comrades Marathon you certainly need to be running a sub 2.20 marathon.

I would say the closer that you get to 2.10, as a potential winner of the Comrades Marathon, the better you get. 

We have had guys like Alberto Salazar and Shvetsov and Grishine who won multiple times.

Then we also have a guy like Bruce Fordyce who perhaps never ran his fastest-ever marathon, but he was a 2.17 guy. 

It is sort of accepted that you need to be at least a 2.15 / 2.17 marathoner before you can (this is on the male side) you can contemplate being a winner at the Comrades Marathon.

Then depending on exactly how fast you are, you are probably looking at training somewhere in the region of 170 to 220, maybe 240 maximum km’s a week in your peek training.

The slower you marathon the more you need to rely on a bigger engine, so you would look at perhaps doing more volume. The faster you the more you would actually work towards the lower end, so maybe between 170 to 200 km’s a week in your peek week.

But keep your speed really high so you are doing a lot of quality work.

On Race Day

On race day, you are probably looking at going through halfway somewhere in the region of  2.40.

People have slightly different strategies there, but somewhere between 2.40 and 2.45 would then give you a finishing time of 5.20 to 5.30. On the up run, we know the record is 5.20.

You may need to adjust for conditions. If we get conditions like we had 2 years ago, then 2.45 or slightly slower, because then the winning time is probably going to be somewhere between 5.28 and 5.35.

You need to tailor a training plan to your marathon experience and strengths. Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a newbie to the race scene, there’s a plan that’s just right for you.

Is there an accurate way to predict my Comrades finish time?

To answer the question of finishing time, there isn’t a VERY accurate way of predicting finishing time. But for the Down Run, I’d say pretty much from around about a 3 hour marathon up to a 4.43 hour marathon, you are very safe on a two and a half times your marathon time – that will give you a very nice indicator of what your finishing time should be.

So just to make it easier, if you run a 4hour marathon, you’ve got a good chance of running a 10 hour comrades


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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