Running the Comrades Marathon is a monumental challenge that requires meticulous preparation, especially when it comes to hydration and fueling strategies. 

While the race provides numerous drink stations along the route, some runners prefer to carry their preferred hydration and nutrition options with them using hydration packs or belts.

In this article, we’ll delve into the topic of running the Comrades Marathon with a hydration pack, exploring the reasons behind this choice and its potential benefits and drawbacks.

Understanding the Use of Hydration Packs in the Comrades Marathon

Contrary to popular belief, there are indeed runners who opt to use hydration packs during the Comrades Marathon. 

Although the race offers ample drink stations, some runners prefer the convenience and reassurance of having their preferred hydration and nutrition options readily available. 

The reality is that there is so much stuff available along the race route that the average person feels like they don’t need one, never mind the normal water points that are provided by the Comrades Marathon association, of which there are 48, along the route.

Most clubs in South Africa will also have seconding tables and they’ll have two or three of those stationed along the route where guys will be able to get their preferred drink or snack or whatever it is that they want to use on Comrades race day.

While hydration packs may not be necessary for everyone, they can be advantageous for those accustomed to using them, especially if they come from a trail running background where carrying hydration is standard practice.

Pros and Cons of Using Hydration Packs

Hydration packs offer several benefits for runners tackling the Comrades Marathon. They provide convenient access to water, electrolytes, and nutrition without relying solely on aid stations. 

Additionally, hydration packs allow runners to maintain a consistent hydration and fueling strategy tailored to their individual needs.

However, there are potential drawbacks to consider, such as added weight and discomfort, as well as the risk of chafing or rubbing during prolonged use.

Tips for Using Hydration Packs Effectively

For runners considering using hydration packs in the Comrades Marathon, it’s essential to select the right pack based on size, fit, and features. 

Additionally, developing a comprehensive hydration and fueling plan is crucial for optimizing performance and minimizing discomfort. 

Practicing with the hydration pack during training runs allows runners to adjust to the added weight and fine-tune their strategy for race day. Furthermore, making adjustments based on environmental conditions and personal preferences is key to maximizing the benefits of using a hydration pack.

In conclusion, running the Comrades Marathon with a hydration pack is a viable option for some runners, particularly those accustomed to using them in training or other endurance events. 

While the race provides ample hydration and nutrition options, carrying a hydration pack can offer added convenience and peace of mind. 

By carefully selecting the right pack, developing a comprehensive hydration and fueling plan, and practicing with the pack during training, runners can optimize their performance and enhance their overall race experience. 

Ultimately, the decision to use a hydration pack should be based on individual preferences, needs, and comfort levels.


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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