If you’re aiming for a sub-9-hour finish at the Comrades Marathon (the Bill Rowan medal), using an ultra marathon like Om Die Dam to simulate your ideal Comrades pace can be a strategic move. 

With a qualifying marathon time of 3:33 and a previous best of 9:03 at Comrades, you are on the cusp of achieving your goal. Here’s how to determine if this strategy will work for you and how to best implement it.

Assessing Bill Rowan Potential

Given your marathon performance and proximity to achieving a Bill Rowan in your previous Comrades attempt, it’s clear you have the potential. 

Missing the sub-9-hour mark by just three minutes indicates that fine-tuning race-day management could make the difference. Factors such as pacing, efficient time spent at aid stations, minimizing unnecessary stops, and strategic energy management all play crucial roles.

Related: Achieving the Bill Rowan Medal: A Guide for Comrades Marathon Runners

Using Om Die Dam as a Practice Run

Running the Om Die Dam ultra marathon to simulate Comrades pace can be a valuable strategy, provided it is done correctly. Om Die Dam is far enough from the Comrades Marathon to allow for recovery and to assess your endurance and pacing strategies. By running the first 50 kilometers of Om Die Dam at Comrades pace, you can test your pacing, nutrition, and hydration strategies, ensuring you can maintain your target pace without overexerting yourself.

Key Considerations for Running Om Die Dam

  1. Pacing and Comfort: It’s essential to pace yourself comfortably during Om Die Dam, aiming for your planned Comrades pace. The goal is to simulate the race without pushing to the point of exhaustion. The pace should be sustainable, allowing you to feel strong even after covering a significant distance.
  2. Testing Race Strategies: This race offers an excellent opportunity to fine-tune walking breaks, nutrition intake, and hydration strategies. Understanding how your body responds to these elements during a long run can provide invaluable insights for race day.
  3. Recovery Time: It’s critical that there are at least three weeks between your qualifying marathon and Om Die Dam. If these races are too close, the cumulative fatigue could impair performance and increase the risk of injury. Adequate recovery is vital to ensure your body is well-prepared for Comrades.
  4. Post-Race Recovery: After Om Die Dam, focus on a structured recovery plan. This includes rest, active recovery sessions, and gradually building up to your peak training weeks before tapering for the Comrades Marathon.

Managing Race Day for Success

Effective race day management will be pivotal in achieving the Bill Rowan. You should:

  • Start Conservatively: Ensure you don’t go out too fast. Going through halfway at an appropriate, sustainable pace is crucial.
  • Efficient Aid Station Use: Minimize time spent at water stations. Have a plan for quick, efficient stops that meet your hydration and nutritional needs without lingering.
  • Avoid Unnecessary Stops: While it’s tempting to interact with family or take longer breaks, these should be kept to a minimum to save precious minutes.
  • Mental Fortitude: Stay focused on the goal, especially in the latter stages of the race. Mental resilience will be key to pushing through fatigue.

Using the Om Die Dam ultra marathon to simulate Comrades Marathon race pace can be a beneficial part of your training strategy, as long as it is approached with caution. Ensuring adequate spacing between races and focusing on efficient race day management will help fine-tune your preparation. With strategic planning and disciplined execution, you stand a strong chance of achieving your Bill Rowan goal at the Comrades Marathon.


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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