Comrades Marathon

I'm "toying" with doing the Comrades
Marathon next year, and was wondering
if anyone had done it before and could
comment on the event. Also, any advise
on how to train for a 56 miler......my
longest ever before was the Cross Wales
(48m) but that was years ago. I also
achieved a marathon pb this year of
3 hrs 50, so was thinking of using
a similar training schedule with longer
runs............I'm open to suggestions!

Comments

  • I have not run it, although I used to life in Hillcrest, which is on the Comrades route. Next year is a down year, which is said to be harder on the legs because of the constant pounding. The furthest I have ever run is 26 miles, so I can't offer you any useful advice on training. However, if you go to http://www.sportsdigest.co.za/comrades2001.shtml there is a Comrades Calculator, which predicts a time of 9hrs 24mins based on your marathon time. On that site's home page there are also some links to South African sites, which might help you.
  • Hi Karen.

    Well that would be an excellent achievment Karen,probably no help what so ever, but ive just seen a movie on this called The Long Run, its out to buy or at your friendly Blockbuster store on dvd.

    Might give you an idea on the route and the amount of peeople that take part.

    Good luck!
  • I've read about it and I would think it would be a fantastic thing to have completed. Way out of my league, but not yours by the sound of things, good luck if you go for it.
  • Hi Guy,
    thanks for the website - I quite liked the "walk strategy" bit. I also checked
    out the Comrades website, but its "Training" section was pretty much empty.

    I have to admit 56 miles does sound a tad scarey, even on a "down" run. By all accounts both directions are hard.
  • Hi Karen,

    There's an email list for Ultra runners. It's quite busy, and there's loads of advice there on how to train for this sort of event. Lots of inspiring accounts, too, of people running impossible races! You can find the web page here, and there'll be info there on how to subscribe to the email list, should you wish to do so. Good luck :)
  • Karen,

    I forgot to mention that Tim Noakes' Lore of Running is well worth getting. He is a doctor from Cape Town, who has run the Comrades, and as well as being a very good book on running it has a lot of advice and information about the Comrades. Amazon is only showing the 1987 edition, and saying that it is not currently in stock, but when I was in Cape Town a few weeks ago I noticed that there was an updated version in the bookshops, so if you search around on the internet you can probably find it.
  • Wee Piglet,
    looks like I've come unstuck - I registered for the ultra running mail list, then went travelling for a couple of days only to come back and find 73 emails.......I think reading them could take more time than training for the comrades!

    I've decided that I'll train towards Paris
    via the Compton Downland Challenge - 40 hilly miles. If I survive that, I'll go for it with the Comrades.

    Karen
  • Karen, you could also try the official comrades website -: http://www.comrades.com

    I have participated in the race twice, but failed to finish in the allocated time on both occasions.

    The atmosphere is great and the scenery very beautiful, and there is plenty of support along the route. The "down" run was much more difficult for me, but everyone has their own favourite. The walk/run method is used by the majority of the 12000+ field, with varied results.

    I hope to run it again one day, when I return there, to visit family and friends.

    Good Luck :-)
  • Hi Dazzle,
    hope you had a good Xmas.

    I've looked at the website, but unfortunately the training section seems pretty empty - it may be a little early. This year they've extended the cut-off to 12 hours, so it may be a full 2 hours longer than when you last did it, so I'm hopeful that I stand some chance.

    My main issue with the walk/run, is that (in my opinion), once you begin walking its very difficult to motivate yourself to run again, and the walk intervals tend to lengthen. Perhaps confining the walking to steep hills, or the latter part of the race so you've got a good start may work.

    I've also heard that the "Down" run is no easier - it's a down run this year. Can you advise on how hilly it is? Are there flat bits at all!
  • Hi Karen,

    thanks, i did have a good Xmas, hope you had a good one too.

    I have not used their website before, but must say that it is very poor when it comes to training info.

    With regard to the run/walk issue, from my own experience the best way to tackle the route is to start off at an easy pace, and conserve energy by walking (briskly) up the hills and running the flat and downhill sections. There are a few flat sections, the longest being Harrison Flats which is about 15km from the start. This is also a very quiet section with very little spectators.

    The "Down" run does have uphills too. Most of them will be encountered in the first half of the race. Motivation to get going again should not be that hard as the field of runners are very supportive and the supporters along the course help to get you going again. Even if you can maintain a pace of around 7 minutes per kilometret you should still finish in the 12 hours.

    If I come accros any other info I will pass it on to you.

    Good luck and enjoy the experience.
  • Thanks Dazzle,
    very helpful information. Is Harrison flats 15km from the start on the down run? Also, its good to know that the majority of the hills are in the first half - I think that will help as you get more tired.

    My aim at present is to focus on the Paris marathon in which I'd like to do sub 3h 45 to stand a chance of a "good for age" entry to London next year. I did 3 hr 50 in October, so feel this is feasible.

    I thought I'd modify my training this time by ramping my long run - I only did one 20 miler last time and really feel that you need to feel comfortable at that distance. Because of Comrades, I plan to go to the other extreme by ramping from my current 16m run now, to do the Compton Downland challenge - 40 miles at the end of March.

    The closing date for Comrades is May, so I think I can be relaxed and wait to see how Compton and Paris go. If they go well, and I'm injury free I'll enter and spend the
    remaining 10 weeks working on increasing the
    distance - I think I'll aim to peak at 50 miles about 4-6 weeks before.

    To be honest, I'm just focussing on the next
    3 months first, so it seems less daunting!

    Any hints, advice, information will be gratefully received!
  • Karen,
    yes Harrison Flats is 15km from the start on the "down" run. I have just been onto the comrades site again and the following link will take you to a page on the site which describes the down run in detail.

    The link is:- http://www.comrades.org.za/Default.aspx?id=46

    Still looking for other helpful info.
  • I haven't done the Comrades marathon but I have done London to Brighton (54 miles). The training programme I followed was on the Road Runners Club website
    http://www.roadrunnersclub.org.uk/lonbrigh.htm#Training for the London to Brighton
    I finished in 9:13:57. I found the first 30 miles were OK - not much worse than a marathon - but then I was still knackered with 24 to go! Anyway, after 40 miles it doesn't get any worse and its just a question of keeping going. I would suggest trying a 'short' ultra first such as the Dartmoor Discovery (34m) or the Two Bridges (36m).
  • Karen,

    Having lived for years in both of the start and end cities I have probably run every part of the route, but have never entered the race. To answer an earlier question, no, there are absolutely no flat bits whatsover, none, zilch, nil.

    Being a sad git I subscribe to the SA Runner's World. They have a very excellent training programme in it specifically for Comrades, much the same as our FLM one. It really is a highly recommended programme, most Comrades novices swear by it. If you want to e-mail me your address (I'll go and check my profile to see if I'm e-mailable) I will very happily post you a copy of the programme each month when it comes out. I have just received the Jan edition, which is where the programme starts, so you wouldn't be behind.

    Val.
  • Ian,
    thanks for your advice - I have in my
    mind doing the Compton Downland Challenge
    which is at the End of March. It comes
    in two "flavours" 20 and 40 miles. I've
    done the 20miler before, and there's a
    decision point at 19.5 miles, so it seems like a good choice. It's also quite undulating, so if I do the 40 miles then, I think I should be well placed to increase to 50+ by the middle of June.

    Thanks also for the London to Brighton website, it looks really useful. I think this weekend should be my time to sit down and re-view my schedule for the next few weeks. I'm also interested to see what Ratcatcher's schedule looks like, so I may end up with a hybrid.
  • Good luck to anyone who is doing the Comrades Marathon, its on my list of 'like to do's'.

    Anyway, i was reading the posts on run/walk strategy's and wondering do all participants use this method, or is it possible to run this distance without stopping?
  • Hi Mr Silly,
    welllll......the winner last year was
    Vladamir Kotov of Belarus, who shot across the line in a mere 5:30:49! My guess is,
    that at an estimated average pace of 5.9 minute miles he didn't follow the run/walk method! Quite incredible isn't it? I couldn't do that pace for 1 mile, let alone 56 hilly ones! The winning ladies time was 6 hour 14 - again pretty impressive

    Me? I think the run/walk approach sounds admirable, and beating the 12 hour cut-off will be sufficient!
  • Hi Everybody

    I am looking to do the comrades marathon in 2004,this gives me just over a
    year to get my running together. i havnt run since london 97 and have set myself
    (maybe foolishly,lol) this goal.does anyone know of any running clubs /agents who organise
    trips. I know steve cram,s coco charity does it,but i would rather raise money for a local charity
    near home.

  • Thanks for answering Karen, you are right it is an incredible pace.

    I can't help wondering though, just how far an athlete can run without stopping. What are the bounderies of human limitations?

    Any takers.
  • Mr Silly

    I am at the stage of my running where I am never gonna be very fast but I would love to know how far I could run without stopping. So far I have managed 32miles....

    Karen thankyou for putting up this forum as i too would like to train up for an ultra.

    Karen have you looked at the Brighton to London training schedule which is on their website? - Will you folow something similar?

  • Mr Silly,
    My general thoughts are that I'd rather
    assume that the comrades winner doesn't
    stop and walk - the alternative is that
    he does, in which case his speed when
    running is even more sickening!

    Cheekee Monkee - I've done a couple "ultra" type events before;
    the cross wales "walk" (48 miles) and Raid du Verdon (very hilly 115 km over 3 days - of which I only managed 2 due to a particularly gross incident involving toenails, blood, scalpels and french medics!), and I always walk parts. I think it's partly my approach - for marathons, half marathons etc, I've been working on improving my times (although this is only a recent thing). But, for these longer races, I always approach them with a view to the achievement being getting round. I think if you want a really good time, you probably need to keep going.

    For comrades, I've yet to decide my goals - part of me would like to do sub 10 hours, but we shall see. I've looked at the L2B training session. The general sentiment seems to be to use a base marathon training, but increase the long run to get used to time on feet. This works well for me as I'm doing Paris, so I think that will be my general approach. I'm also looking forward to receiving the recommended Comrades training schedule from RW SA from Ratcatcher, which should be very interesting.

    So, plan to date: follow (largely) the sub 3:30 for RW. Long run currently at 20 (c.f. 9 for schedule), will increase to 30 by end of Feb, 40 by end of March, then peak at 50 end of April - 6 weeks before the event. I've also scheduled in the following races:

    Feb 2nd Watford half marathon
    March 9th RW paced 20m
    March 22nd Compton D'land challenge - 40m
    April 6th - Paris Marathon

    The above are to help me guage pace - I'm hoping that Paris well feel like a breeze after Compton! I may fit in a few additional half marathons during April/May.

    Finally - Kevin - I haven't seen running trips advertised to Comrades, but I bet it's worth calling people like Running Tours etc. as advertised in RW. Altenatively, you can enter Comrades on-line, so why not make your own arrangements. You can fly in to Durban (via J'burt) and the local area has miles of sunny white beaches and the best scuba diving in SA.

    No prizes for guessing what my schedule is going to be like in the 2 weeks before Comrades, which will be spent in SA!!

    Apologies for the "war and peace" length email!
  • Karen,
    The top runners do not use the run/walk method, they run all the way. Not sure what the pace is when it comes to miles, but the elite runner's average around 4 minutes per kilometre for the whole distance.

    The top female runner ran a new down record a few years ago and finished 15th overall, think the timne was in the region of six and a half hours.
  • Hi Karen, the Comrades marathon is one I really must do one day. I have run the 2 Oceans in Capetown which was my first ultra in '96.
    I'm planning to be at the Compton Downland challange in March, I've never done it before.
    I've run London to Brighton 4 times, I gather the Comrades is harder, as in hillier and hotter. A friend of mine is planning on running Comrades this year.
    You've had lots of good advice, maybe I'll see you in March.
    Best wishes
    Tim

    Oh yes, I ran as far as the bottom of Ditchling without walking-48 miles. Stopped at some of the drinks stations though.
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