The 94th Comrades Marathon is an UP RUN – and the last UP for at least another 3 years.. 2020 and 2021, the centennial anniversary of the first ever Comrades will both be down runs.

Background of the Down and Up run
The first race was a Down run held on Empire Day 24 May 1921: hence the reason for a down on 2021.
The first UP Run was held in 1922, the debut of Arthur Newton who is known as the ‘father of Distance running’ and who went on to become the first 5 time winner of the race – the first legend of the Comrades marathon.

The First UP was Unique and Historic
1922 was also SPECIAL as it is the ONLY UP run to start from tollgate Hill….. The climb from City Hall was considered too steep and tough for the runners … this is a FACT WORTH REMEMBERING BY THE CLASS OF 2019.

1922 also heralded the story of Headmaster, Springbok Rugby player and Provincial Cricketer, Bill Payne, who was only convinced by his overnight guest Arthur Newton to enter on race morning and taking a ‘go as you please’ approach, Ran, ate, and drank his way to the finish at Maritzburg Show Grounds in 10 and a half hours…. Many of todays runners would do well to adopt his tactics on 9 June.

The Video:
The video below was filmed for the 90th Edition, which finished at the Oval in Alexander park, but the majority of the route (all but the last 7km ) is the same and continues to be te same for around 30 years now. The core of the Up and Down have been constant since the move to the M13 freeway in the mid 1980’s

What was a 5 part series has been merged into one 6 minute video which i hope can guide and inspire the 2019 runner into achieving their best … and provides some key principles and knowledge that should fore-arm the runner and prevent them from making the mistakes of predecessors. (BUT READ ON BEFORE AND AFTER WATCHING VIDEO FOR OTHER KEY HINTS AND TIPS)

There are Liars Everywhere:
Many Comrades, and even coaches, will share their tales of Comrades, but beware there are a high percentage of ‘liars’ out there.. The lie the way spectators try to motivate the fatigued runner… From as far out as Inchanga (meaning the blade or Spear) there are sideline calls of: ‘its all downhill from here’ — Lies!!

From half way they say “It’s not far to go!” – Lies….
And anyone telling you that you are looking good on comrades day, is saying it to cheer you up, and is only in comparison to the 18,000 other runners who are dead on their feet! – we never look good until we wake with that smile on our face and the medal in our hand on Monday morning!!! – its all Lies…

Beware of the source of the route description and comments on the hills and downs.

I first measured Comrades in 1986, first ran it in 1981, and live on it, both physically and virtually —

2015 versus 2019 Up Run – Viva the Difference !!

The first change to 2019 is the growth of the sport and it is expected that by Sunday 9 June around 18500 of the 25000 entrants will actually make it to the start line.. Thats a big drop out but also around 2500 more than previously.

The growth in the sport has primarily been in the 4;15 to 5:15 marathon areas so expect the 10:00 hour to 12 hour portion of the road to be more crowded and expect even bigger ‘buses’ – They are no longer ‘minibus groups’ sharing and encouraging each other, but rather those ‘Articulated double Carriages’ that block and fill the road width from Bothas through to Polly Shortts. The road width has not changed in that section so the 6.5 metre wide cambered tar has now been turned into the worst possible traffic jam / nightmare for the runner who tries to achieve their potential.

The best you can hope for is that bus drivers and passengers have discovered the word “CONSIDERATION” in the last 12 months…. Perhaps a ‘sneak’ route will be left on the right hand side for those who wish to pass?

Warning Two:
For the past six months there have been road works around 9km into the race on the M13 at Westwood Mall.
In its normal set up the road as been reduced to a single lane width above the Westwood bridge.
There are a few options for the organisers to prevent the bottleneck of squeezing a full three lane freeway through to the other side of a current single lane: Opening up the opposite side, using both the single lane and the off and on ramp as an alternate, or of course, and most unlikely, a return to the traditional Essex / Devon terrace routes.
The details have not yet been released but be warned of potential slow down around this area for about 500m

Top of Polly’s to Scottsville:

The ‘Liars’ are out in full force on this one… So Many maintain that its all down hill from ‘top of Polly’s to the finish…… Lies, Lies, Lies — four times Lies.

Its got everyone … past runners, spectators, commentators, organisers and even coaches .. Liars all of them.. 🙂

The horrible truth is that there are 4 nasty climbs in that final run to the finish…

This is the view of how you will crest out from Polly Shortts:

First after running down the back of Polly past the Spar to the traffic lights we turn right to drop steep down to get under the rail bridge. Its so steep that at this stage you may even be walking that down. Now the challenge the road has to climb UP to get over the freeway!! That is a 300m steep climb which becomes more gradual after cresting the bridge.

Ok one Down … Three to go!
next we turn left and enjoy a good running down towards a small stream but with a down comes …. an Up!

The climb has already started when you pass 4k to go …..

This is not steep but this slow poison is in an area without spectators and at a time when the body is screaming stop and your stopwatch is screaming GO!
Its not pleasant and lasts for around 2 km in all.

Eventually you reach the shopping centre where a left turn takes you down and into the Scottsville suburb, but to get there is a 600m climb which would be nothing if you had not already done 85km

Your run and walk and the water table relief do eventually see you looking at the Flat (what flat?) New England Road crossing which then takes you to the final ‘mile’ and the sight of the specially made opening of Scottsville race course.
Down onto the gravel road before dropping steeply into the underpass below the race course…

What Goes Under Must Come UP..!!
The climb out of the underpass is the final straw of the route – Dont let it break the camels back!

This is a walk for most, and its only about 30 metres long, but also dont copy previous winner Camille Herron who then stopped at the top thinking she had finished… take the left-right turn over the grass and carry on until someone tells you to stop.

If you thought uphill was hard, beware also of the thick race course grass that will sap any remaining energy from your legs as you take that final stride under the gantry and have a small but ever-so precious medal pressed into your sweaty had … That is the reward of finishing the Comrades Marathon …

Comrades Reward:
Facing these and all the other climbs – facing the thoughts of not finishing – conquering your doubting mind … seeking solace from those around you .. your Comrades! realising that the bodies ability is determined by the minds belief .. That is the true reward of Comrades… The medal is a tick in the box token…

Hopefully this plus the video will help prepare you for the day, whether its your first, your back to back, or your 40th… a little reminder is good for the mind