As the Official Coach of The Comrades Marathon, here at CoachParry.com, we’ve worked really hard to put this Ultimate Comrades Marathon Resource Guide together for you.
We hope you will find great value in this page if you are thinking about, training for or have run numerous Comrades Marathons
Please keep referring and checking back as we are always updating it and adding things as we find more great Comrades resources.
Comrades Marathon 2023 – What you need to know…
Often referred to as The Ultimate Human Race, Comrades is an incredible, life-changing experience.
The Comrades Marathon Association has announced that the 2023 Comrades Marathon will be a ‘down run‘.
In 2023 Comrades will be run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in South Africa and will be 90km or 56 miles in distance with 1166m or 3827ft of vertical ascent with a maximum elevation of 821m or 2696 ft.
When is the 2023 Comrades Marathon taking place?
The 2023 Comrades Marathon will take place on 11 June 2023. The announcement was made in early November that KwaZulu Natal Athletics has accepted the date and have officially moved the 2023 Comrades Marathon back to June after it was run in August in 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
When do the 2023 Comrades Marathon entries open?
Traditionally, over the last few years, Comrades entries have opened on 1 September in the preceding year. For Comrades 2023, this is not the case.
Entries for the 2023 Comrades Marathon opened on 22 November 2022. The entry window will stay open until 4:30pm on Friday 9 December 2022 or until the entry cap of 20 000 entries has been reached.
If you would like to find out more about the 2023 Comrades Marathon entry process, entry costs, and how to go about entering to run Comrades, you will find this comprehensive article we wrote about Comrades Marathon entries extremely helpful.
Comrades Marathon Qualifying for 2023
In order to start the Comrades Marathon in 2023, you have to successfully qualify to run the race. There are various qualifying criteria that are stipulated by the Comrades Marathon Association but the two big ones you need to be aware of to qualify to run Comrades, are as follows:
- You need to be at least 20 years old on the day of the race
- You have to have successfully completed a marathon in less than 4:50
There are other distances further than 42km that you can run in order to qualify to run Comrades that allow for more time, but those are the two most important things to remember.
We have written a very extensive post on Comrades Marathon Qualifying in 2023, that includes everything you need to know about Comrades qualification.
Included is an extensive list of Comrades Marathon qualifiers, Comrades Marathon qualifying times for distances ranging from 42.2km right through to 100km as well as the average paces you need to run them at in order to qualify.
This is everything you need to know about Comrades Marathon Qualifying.
Where do you start if you want to run the Comrades Marathon?
The answer is right here! We’d suggest bookmarking this page and checking back regularly as we are continually adding and revising our Comrades Marathon training and resources.
The first thing you are going to need is a Comrades Marathon training program. It is important to select the right Comrades program, according to your running ability. A mistake many Comrades runners make is to select a training program that is way above their running ability thinking that if they train for a Bill Rowan, even though they are Comrades bronze medal or Vic Clapham candidates, they’ll be sufficiently prepared to finish Comrades.
This is not the case. If you are not on the correct Comrades Training schedule for your ability, you run the risk of arriving on race day either overtrained or undertrained or even worse, injured.
The 2023 Comrades Marathon Down Run training programs are now available. This is where you can access the 2023 Comrades Marathon Training Plans.
In the meantime, if you’d like to start training for Comrades, it is important to realise that just like the race itself, training for Comrades is a marathon and not a sprint.
Running the Comrades can be daunting for an experienced runner, never mind someone who is toying with the idea of starting running to run Comrades (As do many people in South Africa).
We also have a Couch to Comrades training plan that you can use if you are going wanting to go from zero training to the Comrades Marathon in a year. This is where you can access the Couch to Comrades Training Plan.
This post gives a great insight into what it takes to go from Couch Potato to a Comrades Marathon runner in 12 months.
If the thought of running the Comrades Marathon has crossed your mind then this “Is the Comrades Marathon for me” webinar will help you make your mind up. This post on what it takes to run the Comrades Marathon will certainly help too.
2023 Comrades Marathon Down Run Training Plans
The official Comrades coach is Lindsey Parry. Lindsay has grown up around the South African running fraternity and in particular the Comrades Marathon (His dad Trevor Parry has three Comrades gold medals to his name).
Lindsey is a fantastic runner in his own right but his coaching resume speaks for itself. There are very many coaches who can coach elite athletes to superb results as there are many coaches who can train the average athlete to be their best. There are only a few who can do both. Lindsey Parry is one of them.
Click on any of the images below to access Lindsey Parry’s Comrades Marathon Training Programmes for the 2023 Comrades Down Run:
How much mileage do you need to run in training to finish Comrades?
This is quite a difficult question to answer because it will depend on which of my Comrades Marathon training plans you are following.
Depending on your Comrades goal or the medal you’re chasing, the range of mileage starts around 850km or 531 miles for a Vic Clapham medal or Sub 12-hour finish through to more than 3200km or 2000 miles if you’re chasing a Comrades gold medal.
If you would like to dig into the mileage required to run a successful Comrades, then our Complete Comrades Marathon Mileage Guide will answer all those questions for you. It includes what the total Comrades mileage will be per medal from Gold right through to the Vic Clapham.
Also included in the guide is the average weekly mileage you need to do, the total number of marathon and ultra-marathons you need to run in training and how long your longest long training run should be.
You can read our Complete Comrades Marathon Mileage guide by clicking here.
The Comrades down run is quite different to the up with regards to the stresses and strains that it puts on your body. The training, therefore, will also be slightly different between the two races. This post goes into detail on what the difference is training for the up run as opposed to the down run.
The route of the Comrades varies in distance, depending if it is an up run or a down run. The Comrades Marathon down run is 90km or 56 miles long and is run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban while the up run is run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and is 86km or 54 miles long.
As most South Africans know, Comrades runs through a region of KwaZulu-Natal known as the Valley of a Thousand Hills. The terrain itself is punishing and it is not for the fainthearted. The down run is particularly bruising on the body.
The Comrades Marathon Down Run Route
As mentioned above the Comrades down run is 90km or 56 miles in distance and includes 1166m or 3827ft of vertical ascent with a maximum elevation of 821m or 2696 ft.
The image below is a basic route profile and as you see there is a fair deal of climbing in the first half, including a climb to the highest point on the down run route which is at Umlaas Road. There is a lot of work to be done up until the climb out of Drummond on the way to Botha’s Hill.
The descent from the top of Botha’s Hill to the bottom of Fields Hill is what really differentiates the down run from the up run and for most runners, this is where the damage is caused.
Many a runner has flown down this descent to make up time only to pay it back on spades in the final quarter of the race. If you’ve been able to conserve some energy by the time you climb over Cowies Hill you can make up a fair deal of time through Westville as you head towards the finish in Durban.
If you are looking for the most extensive, detailed description of the Comrades Marathon down run then look no further than this post. It includes the route profile, route map and detailed Comrades route description.
The Comrades Marathon Up Run Route
As mentioned in that previous post the Comrades up run is very different to the down run. The start of the Comrades up run in Durban, for instance, differs in two major ways. Firstly, the roads out of Durban are a lot wider than those out of Pietermaritzburg so you get over the line a lot quicker and secondly it is quite a few degrees warmer. There are a few other differences too. You can find out all about the start of the Comrades up run here.
As you can see the route profile of the Comrades up run is very intimidating. If you want to know more about what you can expect as far as the Comrades up run route is concerned, check out this post detailing the first half of the Comrades Marathon up run and this one on the second half of the Comrades up run.
2023 Comrades Marathon Race Day
The race has been run on various dates in the past. The 31st of May used to be Republic Day in South Africa and the race was run on that day for many years. Post-1994 Republic day fell away and the race date was moved to Youth Day which falls on 16 June. In recent years the date has now moved back to the second Sunday in June.
The date for the 2023 Comdues Marathon is yet to be officially announced but a tentative date of 11 June 2023 has been proposed.
Pacing on Comrades Marathon race day is vital and it could be the difference in you getting your Comrades medal or not. This post talks you through exactly what you need to know as far as Comrades pacing goes.
One of the most popular posts we have done is how to save yourself 20 minutes on race day. It is very easy to get caught up in the vibe of the race and not take note of little ‘time stealers’ throughout the day. If you’re concerned about those dreaded cut-off times, this post can save you at least 20 minutes.
The Comrades Marathon Medals
When you see a Comrades medal for the first time you are struck by how small it is. It is tiny!
In comparison to what you actually need to do to get the medal, it may seem ridiculous.
But that is just another of the things that makes Comrades so special. The race doesn’t need a flashy, belt-buckle sized medal to show off. The Comrades medal is modest because it doesn’t have anything to prove.
The Comrades medal is beautiful.
There are 9 Comrades Medals that you can earn for running the race. They start with the men’s and women’s gold, followed by the Wally Hayward, Isavel Roche-Kelly and then the Silver. Next is the Bill Rowan, Robert Mtshali, Bronze and finally the Vic Clapham.
We’ve written an extensive post on the 9 Comrades Marathon Medals and what it takes to get them. You can read that post here.
Books about the Comrades Marathon
There have been several books written over the years about the Comrades. In 2011 John Cameron-Dow published Comrades Marathon – The Ultimate Human Race. The book is a wonderful account of the race from the early days right up until the modern era.
Don Oliver, who is a former Comrades Coach has also published a book called Make Sure of Your Comrades Medal.
The book is a hands-on training guide that will talk you through the process of training for and running the Comrades Marathon*
*(Eds note – Don is a fantastic coach but I feel that the amount of training Don recommends may be a bit too much. If I, for example, had to train for the race using Don’s programme I have no doubt I would break down with injury. Being a fairly big runner I would not cope with that amount of mileage but it is a great read none the less.).
Professor Tim Noakes’s Book The Lore of Running is an absolute classic in Comrades folklore. It is strictly speaking not a book on Comrades (although it is covered extensively) it covers everything from injury prevention and treatment to nutrition.**
**(Eds note: The Prof has done an about turn on the nutrition section of this book but the rest of it is fantastic. If you would like to read up what the Prof now recommends his latest publication is The Real Meal Revolution)
The International Comrades Marathon Runner
Officially the largest ultramarathon in the world, the Comrades Marathon attracts runners from all around the world. The number of international athletes keeps increasing every year and in 2014 over 1600 international athletes took part.
From a logistical perspective, Comrades is a very different race for runners that come from beyond South Africa’s borders.
One of the biggest challenges is actually getting to South Africa. It is not a short commute for most of the world. Jet lag and acclimatizing to the time difference can have an enormous impact on your run. This post is a perfect example of what can happen if you get it wrong and also the best way to combat jet lag.
Heat also plays a part, especially if you come from the Northern Hemisphere. This is probably the best way to deal with hot conditions on the day.
Post Comrades Recovery
Once all the hard work is done and the race is over, the time comes when you need to nurse your body and get it back to the way it was before you ran. There is often a temptation to start running again really soon after the Comrades but you should take at least 3 weeks off from running completely.
Sometimes it is inevitable that you will need to run a big race soon after the Comrades. If you are wondering how to train for it, this is what to do.
Sometimes, however, things don’t go the way you planned and you need deal with a disappointing Comrades.
Comrades Marathon Inspiration
If you are looking for some Comrades Marathon inspiration and motivation then watch this short video.
This video was filmed at the 2014 Comrades Marathon and should definitely get the juices flowing!
We hope you found a lot of value in this Comrades Marathon Resource Guide. If you did, we’d love it if you spread the love and shared it with the runners you know. Please feel free to use any of the social sharing buttons below on this page.