Comrades Marathon Qualification: Qualifying Races, Paces & Times

Comrades Marathon Qualification: Qualifying Races, Paces & Times

The Comrades Marathon is far from being a walk in the park. It’s one of the toughest challenges you’ll face in your running career…

...It’s for this reason that the Comrades Marathon Association has put in place certain qualifying criteria that you have to meet in order to run the Comrades Marathon.


How to qualify for the Comrades Marathon


In order to qualify to run the Comrades Marathon you need to run a standard marathon (42,2km) in a time of less than 4:50.

Anything slower than a 4:50 marathon does not qualify.

Interestingly enough, you don’t have to run a marathon to qualify for Comrades.

I know, I know… I hear you saying “but Coach Parry, you just said we need to run a marathon to qualify for Comrades???

What I mean is you can also qualify for Comrades by running an ultra marathon, which believe it or not may actually be easier.

I’m going to share with you later in this post why that is the case and I’m going to tell you about a race (that not many people know about), that in my opinion, is the best Comrades Marathon qualifying race for marginal Comrades qualifiers...

...Before we get into the Comrades qualifying times, paces and races, it is important to know that there are also criteria which the actual race you are using to qualify at, has to meet.


Not all marathons are created equal


Your qualifying race must be ASA technically compliant, as well as meet the Comrades Marathon qualifying criteria.

In a nutshell, what that means is you can’t run 42km in your mates back yard and think that is good enough to qualify for Comrades.

The race has to be recognised by the Comrades Marathon as being a legitimate Comrades qualifier.


When to qualify for the 2020 Comrades Marathon


You have between 24 August 2019 and 4 May 2020 to complete your qualifying race and submit/update details.

Sadly, over the years there have been some Comrades runners who have submitted results for runs they didn’t actually do.

The CMA will, along with your running club, verify your qualification and license details.

If it’s shown that you have submitted an incorrect time that either shows you qualified to run Comrades when you didn’t or in order to improve your seeding, you will be disqualified from running and you could face a ban from running Comrades in the future.

So don’t be tempted to take any chances by submitting false qualifying information. It’s just not worth it...

...Again, do not pass go. Do not collect $200.


What is the Comrades Marathon Qualifying time?


As mentioned above, in order to qualify you need to complete any ONE of the distances below in the times given:

Race Distance

Finish Time Average Pace (Min/KM)





5:49:59 0:07:17
49 5:49:59



5:49:59 0:07:00


6:24:59 0:07:24


6:24:59 0:07:16
54 6:24:59



6:44:59 0:07:14


7:19:59 0:07:20
64 7:54:59




80 10:24:59


90 11:59:59


100 13:29:59



You’ll notice in the table I’ve added the average pace you need to run at in order to qualify to run Comrades.

It makes for very interesting reading… run a marathon in under 4:50 you need to average 6:52 minutes per km.

You’ll notice that a 52km Ultra Marathon gives you the leeway to run at 7:24 per kilometer!

But what does that mean?

As a marginal Comrades qualifier, if you choose a 52km race you “buy” yourself more than 30 seconds per kilometre. Even though you’re going 10km longer, the cut-off margins are a bit more lenient.


...“What is the best race to qualify for Comrades at?” I hear you asking.


But First…Comrades Marathon Qualifying Races


Before I share what I think is the best Comrades Marathon qualifier, here is a list of Comrades Marathon qualifying races that you can potentially use. (Pro Tip: These are not the only races that you can use as a qualifier but the list is rather comprehensive and we keep adding to it so keep checking back)

Simply click on any of the tabs below to find a Comrades Marathon qualifying race near you...

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Gauteng Comrades Qualifying Races


Race Date Race Name Distance Website
September Vaal River City Marathon 42.2
October Jacaranda City Challenge 42.2
November Soweto Marathon 42.2
January Johnson Crane Hire Marathon 42.2
February Jeppe Marathon 42.2
March Joburg North City Marathon 42.2
March Jackie Gibson Marathon 42.2
April JointEze Irene Ultra 48
April Profix Scaffolding Marathon 42.2 & 48
May Wally Hayward Marathon 42.2
May Midvaal May Marathon 42.2  
Western Cape Comrades Qualifying Races


Race Date Race Name Distance Website
August PetroSA Marathon 42.2
October Sanlam Cape Town Marathon 42.2
October Voet van Afrika Marathon 42.2
November Sportsmans Warehouse Winelands Marathon 42.2
November Die Vlakte Marathon 42.2
December One Logix United Bulk Prison-to-Prison Marathon 42.2  
February Beaufort West Kanniedood Marathon 42.2  
February Cape Peninsula Marathon 42.2
February Infantry School Cango Marathon 42.2  
February The Hemel & Aarde Marathon 42.2
March Weskus Marathon 42.2
April Two Oceans Marathon 56
April Outeniqua Marathon 42.2  


KwaZulu-Natal Comrades Qualifying Races


Race Date Race Name Distance Website
August Mandela Day marathon 42.2
October Goss & Balfe Sapphire Coast Marathon 42.2
November Bluff Athletic Club Marathon 42.2  
November Sani Stagger 42.2
March Deloitte Challenge Marathon 42.2
March Zululand Ultra Marathon 56  
March Umgeni Water Marathon 42.2
March Tronox uMhlathuze Marathon 42.2
April  Arthur Creswell Memorial Ultra Marathon 52
April Durban City Marathon 42.2
April  Newlands Athletics Club Triple Challenge 42.2  
April Selati Pongola Sugar Cane 4-in-1  42.2  
April The Rising Sun Chatsworth Freedom Marathon 42.2
April South Coast Ultra 48
May Gaterite Challenge Marathon 42.2
Eastern Cape Comrades Qualifying Races


Race Date Race Name Distance Website
September Builder's Warehouse Rafi's Friendly City Marathon 42.2  
October Legends Ultra Marathon 68  
November Twizza Bonkolo Marathon 42.2  
December P.E City Marathon 42.2
March Real Gijimas Ultra 50  
May Bruintjieshoogte Marathon 42.2  


Free State Comrades Qualifying Races


AprilPotato Pride Wilge Marathon42.2OMAC-FS

MarchHuman Rights Day Marathon42.2OMAC-FS

Race Date Race Name Distance Website
October Clarens Golden Gate Marathon 42.2  
October Free State O.R Tambo Marathon 42.2  
November Music Marathon 42.2
March Anco Aldam Ultra Marathon 48
March Human Rights Day Marathon 42.2 OMAC-FS
April Potato Pride Wilge Marathon 42.2  
Mpumalanga Comrades Qualifying Races


Race Date Race Name Distance Website
November UNIWISP Kaapsehoop 42.2
March Goldi 4-in-1 42.2
March Gert Sibande District Marathon 42.2  
April Loskop Marathon 50
April The Great East 3-in-1 42.2  
Limpopo Comrades Qualifying Races


Race Date Race Name Distance Website
September Coaldust Circuit Race 48
October SA Run 4 Cancer Ultra Marathon 48
November Superspar Bela-Bela Marathon 42.2  
November Magoeba Plunge Marathon 42.2  
April Mall of the North Marathon 42.2
North West Comrades Qualifying Races


Race Date Race Name Distance Website
March Om Die Dam Ultra Marathon 50km
Northern Cape Comrades Qualifying Races


Race Date Race Name Distance Website
October KMAC BASE TO BASE 42.2  
March John Nugent Memorial Marathon 42.2
Click Here To Close Listings

If we’ve missed any Comrades qualifiers that you think should be on that list, be sure to contact us.

There are some great races on that list to qualify for Comrades and you’ve probably got your favourite, but as I mentioned earlier there is one that I think is the best Comrades qualifier if you’re a marginal qualifier...

Do you want to shave 20 minutes off your Comrades Marathon Down Run time?


You can with our FREE strength training programme that you can do once a week, at home and with no expensive gym equipment needed.

Included in the programme:

 Detailed descriptions of each exercise so you know how to do them

 Number of repetitions for each exercise so that you avoid overtraining & injury

 Short videos showing you EXACTLY what to do (Number 4 will turn you into the "Inchanga Slayer"!)

Coach Parry is the Official Comrades Marathon Coach

Coach Parry is the Official Comrades Marathon Coach

It is probably not the fastest Comrades qualifier if you’re looking for a super fast one, but if you struggle to qualify for Comrades then I’m going to let you in on a little secret…


The best race to qualify for Comrades


...The Arthur Creswell Memorial Marathon that is hosted by the Ladysmith AC in KZN is a great one to target if you’re struggling to qualify for Comrades.

It’s 52kms which means you have to average 7:24/km. As long as you don’t go out too fast and blow up on the climb of Childs Hill you can make up a lot of time in the second half.

Once you've done the hard work of qualifying, make sure you update your qualification details in time.


How to let Comrades know that you have qualified?


There are a few important dates to remember. The date Comrades Marathon entries open. As well as the date substitutions open and close.

Another important date to remember is 4 May 2020.

That is the deadline to have your Comrades qualifying time submitted by. It is also the deadline to update your club name, license number and the qualifying race details.

4 May 2020. Put it in your diary NOW.

The onus is on you, the runner to make sure this is done in time.

The simplest way to do this is online on the Comrades website, but if you can’t do it online then you can either email, contact the CMA office, or request that your club administrator to do it for you.

This all has to be done no later than 4 May 2020.

You have been warned, you aren’t able to update your details or present your Comrades qualifying time when you try and register at the Comrades Marathon expo.

If you do not qualify or update your details in time, you will forfeit your Comrades Marathon entry.

If you don’t do this, do not pass go and do not collect 200 dollars! 😉

In other words, you can’t start Comrades and you will not get your Comrades T-Shirt and goodie bag.



When is the best time to qualify for the Comrades Marathon?


It is always a good idea to get your Comrades Marathon qualification done as soon as possible.

If you can do it in the fourth quarter of the year before you aim to run Comrades, that is ideal. Or if you really can’t run a marathon in October, November or December, then as early in the new year as possible is the best.

Pro Tip: Listen to this podcast to hear when the best time to qualify for Comrades is.


When to run your Comrades Marathon qualifier


If you leave it late to qualify, into April, for example – what essentially happens is that you need to then recover from that.

If you try and smash a marathon as hard as you can to get a great Comrades qualifying time, you’re risking missing out on a key time in your Comrades training.

You’re essentially recovering in the time we really want to be training the hardest and doing the biggest mileage for Comrades.

That is the reason I want to encourage you to try and qualify for the Comrades Marathon as early as you can.

In April in your Comrades training you want to be looking for an ultramarathon between 50 and 60km’s.

What are you training for?

Simply click on any of the images below to access our running training programmes.

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Shave 20 minutes off your 2021 Comrades Marathon down run time...

 ..with this free strength training programme that you can do once a week, at home and with no expensive gym equipment needed.

Your strength training programme is on it's way...