The Ultimate Comrades Marathon Resource Guide
As the Official Coach of The Comrades Marathon, here at CoachParry.com, we've worked really hard to put this Ultimate Comrades Marathon Resource Guide together for you.
We hope you will find great value in this page if you are thinking about, training for or have run numerous Comrades Marathons
Please keep referring and checking back as we are always updating it and adding things as we find more great Comrades resources.
Comrades Marathon 2020 - What you need to know...
Often referred to as The Ultimate Human Race, Comrades is an incredible, life-changing experience.
The 2020 Comrades Marathon will be a 'down run' and take place on Sunday 14 June 2020.
In 2020 Comrades will be run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in South Africa and will be 90km or 56 miles in distance with 1166m or 3827ft of vertical ascent with a maximum elevation of 821m or 2696 ft.
2020 Comrades Marathon Entries - When & How to Enter Comrades
Entries for the 2020 Comrades Marathon will open on Monday 28 October 2019 at 8:30 and will close on 30 November 2019, or when the entry cap of 27 500 entries has been reached.
There are 3 ways to enter the Comrades Marathon in 2020:
- You can enter online via the Comrades Marathon website or the Comrades Marathon app
- You can physically hand in a Comrades entry form at Comrades House in Pietermaritzburg or
- Mail your completed Comrades Marathon entry form in
The CMA has also ring-fenched 2500 entries for international runners and 7000 for Comrades Marathon novices.
They have also announced that they have not increased the entry fee for 2020, but runners will have to pay the entry platforms service fee when entering.
Comrades have also overhauled the substitution process for 2020, with the organisation taking control of the substitution process so that the Comrades runners do not have to be involved in money changing hands for substituted Comrades entries.
If you'd like to find out more about the entry process for the 2020 Comrades Marathon, how much it is going to cost to enter Comrades in 2020 whether or not you need to belong to a running club or if you need a license, then this post about Comrades Marathon Entries has all the information you need.
Comrades Marathon Qualifying for 2020
In order to start the Comrades Marathon in 2020, you have to successfully qualify to run the race. There are various qualifying criteria that are stipulated by the Comrades Marathon Association but the two big ones you need to be aware of to qualify to run Comrades, are as follows:
- You need to be at least 20 years old on the day of the race (14 June 2020)
- You have to have successfully completed a marathon in less that 4:50
There are are other distances further than 42km that you can run in order to qualify to run Comrades that allow for more time, but those are the two most important things to remember.
We have written a very extensive post on Comrades Marathon Qualifying in 2020, that includes everything you need to know about Comrades qualification.
Included is an extensive list of Comrades Marathon qualifiers, Comrades Marathon qualifying times for distances ranging from 42.2km right through to 100km as well as the average paces you need to run them at in order to qualify.
This is everything you need to know about Comrades Marathon Qualifying.
Where do you start if you want to run the Comrades Marathon?
The answer is right here! We'd suggest bookmarking this page and checking back regularly as we are continually adding and revising our Comrades Marathon training and resources.
The first thing you are going to need is a Comrades Marathon training program. It is important to select the right Comrades program, according to your running ability. A mistake many Comrades runners make is to select a training program that is way above their running ability thinking that if they train for a Bill Rowan, even though they are Comrades bronze medal or Vic Clapham candidates, they'll be sufficiently prepared to finish Comrades.
This is not the case. If you are not on the correct Comrades Training schedule for your ability, you run the risk of arriving on race day either overtrained or undertrained or even worse, injured.
The 2020 Comrades Marathon Down Run training programs are now available. This is where you can access the 2020 Comrades Marathon Training Plans.
In the meantime, if you'd like to start training for Comrades, it is important to realise that just like the race itself, training for Comrades is a marathon and not a sprint.
Running the Comrades can be daunting for an experienced runner, never mind someone who is toying with the idea of starting running to run Comrades (As do many people in South Africa).
We also have a Couch to Comrades training programme that you can use if you are going wanting to go from zero training to the Comrades Marathon in a year. This is where you can access the Couch to Comrades Training Programme.
This post gives a great insight into what it takes to go from Couch Potato to a Comrades Marathon runner in 12 months.
If the thought of running the Comrades Marathon has crossed your mind then this “Is the Comrades Marathon for me” webinar will help you make your mind up. This post on what it takes to run the Comrades Marathon will certainly help too.
2020 Comrades Marathon Down Run Training Programmes
The official Comrades coach is Lindsey Parry. Lindsay has grown up around the South African running fraternity and in particular the Comrades Marathon (His dad Trevor Parry has three Comrades gold medals to his name).
Lindsey is a fantastic runner in his own right but his coaching resume speaks for itself. There are very many coaches who can coach elite athletes to superb results as there are many coaches who can train the average athlete to be their best. There are only a few who can do both. Lindsey Parry is one of them.
Click on any of the images below to access Lindsey Parry's Comrades Marathon Training Programmes for the 2020 Comrades Down Run:
How much mileage do you need to run in training to finish Comrades?
This is quite a difficult question to answer because it will depend on which of my Comrades Marathon training plans you are follow.
Depending on your Comrades goal or the medal you’re chasing, the range of mileage starts around 850km or 531 miles for a Vic Clapham medal or Sub 12 hour finish through to more than 3200km or 2000 miles if you’re chasing a Comrades gold medal.
If you would like to dig into the mileage required to run a successful Comrades, then our Complete Comrades Marathon Mileage Guide will answer all those questions for you. It includes what the total Comrades mileage will be per medal from Gold right through to the Vic Clapham.
Also included in the guide is the average weekly mileage you need to do, the total number of marathon and ultra marathons you need to run in training and how long your longest long training run should be.
You can read our Complete Comrades Marathon Mileage guide by clicking here.
The Comrades down run is quite different to the up with regards to the stresses and strains that it puts on your body. The training, therefore, will also be slightly different between the two races. This post goes into detail on what the difference is training for the up run as opposed to the down run.
The route of the Comrades varies in distance, depending if it is an up run or a down run. The Comrades Marathon down run is 90km or 56 miles long and is run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban while the up run is run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and is 86km or 54 miles long.
As most South Africans know, Comrades runs through a region of KwaZulu-Natal known as the Valley of a Thousand Hills. The terrain itself is punishing and it is not for the fainthearted. The down run is particularly bruising on the body.
The Comrades Marathon Down Run Route
As mentioned above the Comrades down run is 90km or 56 miles in distance and includes 1166m or 3827ft of vertical ascent with a maximum elevation of 821m or 2696 ft.
The image below is basic route profile and as you see there is a fair deal of climbing in the first half, including a climb to the highest point on the down run route which is at Umlaas Road. There is a lot of work to be done up until the climb out of Drummond on the way to Botha's Hill.
The descent from top of Botha's Hill to the bottom of Fields Hill is what really differentiates the down run from the up run and for most runners, this is where the damaged is caused.
Many a runner has flown down this descent to make up time only to pay it back on spades in the final quarter of the race. If you've been able to conserve some energy by the time you climb over Cowies Hill you can make up a fair deal of time through Westville as you head towards the finish in Durban.
If you are looking for the most extensive, detailed description of the Comrades Marathon down run then look no further than this post. It includes the route profile, route map and detailed Comrades route description.
The Comrades Marathon Up Run Route
As mentioned in that previous post the Comrades up run is very different to the down run. The start of the Comrades up run in Durban, for instance, differs in two major ways. Firstly, the roads out of Durban are a lot wider than those out of Pietermaritzburg so you get over the line a lot quicker and secondly it is quite a few degrees warmer. There are a few other differences too. You can find out all about the start of the Comrades up run here.
As you can see the route profile of the Comrades up run is very intimidating. If you want to know more about what you can expect as far as the Comrades up run route is concerned, check out this post detailing the first half of the Comrades Marathon up run and this one on the second half of the Comrades up run.
Comrades Marathon Race Day
The race has been run on various dates in the past. The 31st of May used to be Republic Day in South Africa and the race was run on that day for many years. Post 1994 Republic day fell away and the race date was moved to the Youth Day which falls on 16 June.
In recent years the date has now moved back to the second Sunday in June.
Pacing on Comrades Marathon race day is vital and it could be the difference in you getting your Comrades medal or not. This post talks you through exactly what you need to know as far as Comrades pacing goes.
One of the most popular posts we have done is how to save yourself 20 minutes on race day. It is very easy to get caught up in the vibe of the race and not take note of little 'time stealers' throughout the day. If you're concerned about those dreaded cut off times, this post can save you at least 20 minutes.
The Comrades Marathon Medals
When you see a Comrades medal for the first time you are struck by how small it is. It is tiny!
In comparison to what you actually need to do to get the medal, it may seem ridiculous.
But that is just another of the things that makes Comrades so special. The race doesn't need a flashy, belt-buckle sized medal to show off. The Comrades medal is modest because it doesn't have anything to prove.
The Comrades medal is beautiful.
There are 9 Comrades Medals that you can earn for running the race. They start with the men's and women's gold, followed by the Wally Hayward, Isavel Roche-Kelly and then the Silver. Next is the Bill Rowan, Robert Mtshali, Bronze and finally the Vic Clapham.
We've written an extensive post on the 9 Comrades Marathon Medals and what it takes to get them. You can read that post here.
Books about the Comrades Marathon
There have been several books written over the years about the Comrades. In 2011 John Cameron-Dow published Comrades Marathon - The Ultimate Human Race. The book is a wonderful account of the race from the early days right up until the modern era.
Don Oliver, who is a former Comrades Coach has also published a book called Make Sure of Your Comrades Medal.
The book is a hands-on training guide that will talk you through the process of training for and running the Comrades Marathon*
*(Eds note - Don is a fantastic coach but I feel that the amount of training Don recommends may be a bit too much. If I, for example, had to train for the race using Don's programme I have no doubt I would break down with injury. Being a fairly big runner I would not cope with that amount of mileage but it is a great read none the less.).
Professor Tim Noakes's Book The Lore of Running is an absolute classic in Comrades folklore. It is strictly speaking not a book on Comrades (although it is covered extensively) it covers everything from injury prevention and treatment to nutrition.**
**(Eds note: The Prof has done an about turn on the nutrition section of this book but the rest of it is fantastic. If you would like to read up what the Prof now recommends his latest publication is The Real Meal Revolution)
The International Comrades Marathon Runner
Officially the largest ultramarathon in the world, the Comrades Marathon attracts runners from all around the world. The number of international athletes keeps increasing every year and in 2014 over 1600 international athletes took part.
From a logistical perspective, Comrades is a very different race for runners that come from beyond South Africa's borders.
One of the biggest challenges is actually getting to South Africa. It is not a short commute for most of the world. Jet lag and acclimatizing to the time difference can have an enormous impact on your run. This post is a perfect example of what can happen if you get it wrong and also the best way to combat jet lag.
Heat also plays a part, especially if you come from the Northern Hemisphere. This is probably the best way to deal with hot conditions on the day.
Post Comrades Recovery
Once all the hard work is done and the race is over, the time comes when you need to nurse your body and get it back to the way it was before you ran. There is often a temptation to start running again really soon after the Comrades but you should take at least 3 weeks off from running completely.
Sometimes it is inevitable that you will need to run a big race soon after the Comrades. If you are wondering how to train for it, this is what to do.
Sometimes, however, things don't go the way you planned and you need deal with a disappointing Comrades.
We hope you found a lot of value in this Comrades Marathon Resource Guide. If you did, we'd love it if you spread the love and shared it with the runners you know. Please feel free to use any of the social sharing buttons below on this page.
Latest Comrades Marathon Videos, Podcasts and Blogs
All you need to know about the Comrades Marathon Vic Clapham Medal including race paces, training plan, run walk and a race day strategy to finish Comrades.
Working towards Comrades Marathon qualification? This is ALL you need to know about how to qualify for Comrades plus qualifying times and races to run.
Wanting to enter the Comrades Marathon? This is EVERYTHING you need to know about how to enter, when you can enter and how much it costs to enter the Comrades Marathon.
All you need to know about the Comrades Marathon route for the Down Run, including the route profile, route map and detailed Comrades route description.
Starting pace, speed work and getting into sports management – One on one coaching call with Faheema Limbada
Today on RUN with Coach Parry we chat to one of our Coach Parry Online Training Club members, Faheema Limbada, about a range of topics and answer some of her questions. Lindsey and Faheema discuss starting strategies and how to make sure you don't get overwhelmed and...
On today's podcast Brad and Coach Markus help Matthew Tatham put a plan in place to transition from Dusi Canoe Marathon training to taking on the Comrades Marathon. We also announce this week's #BiogenJourney winner and have some feedback from previous guest on the...
This week on RUN with CoachParry, we chat to one of our international members of the Online CoachParry Training Club – Trevor Smith. We’ve been helping Trevor on his road to his back2back Comrades medal and today’s episode Markus and Trevor chat a little more detail on a few questions for an athlete training overseas coming to run a race in South Africa.
Training pace, cramping and everything leading to Comrades – We help Peter ahead of his first Comrades Marathon
On today’s episode of RUN with CoachParry we chat to one of our Online Training Platform members Peter Clark in his lead up to his first Comrades. Peter has an awesome story having lost 20kgs and in the process has completed 2 full IronMan and is attempting his first Comrades this year. Lindsey and he discuss all things from how to deal with cramping, how to choose the right Comrades program for your level and why we need to train slower to run faster. If you’re running Comrades, there’s definitely some value in here for you too!
Brad also shares one of our athlete’s Success Stories – Timothy Patterson and how he smashed his marathon in a 3 day event in Bermuda!
If you want to share your personal best or story with us, use #BiogenJourney and you could win 3 months access to the CoachParry Online Training Platform. This week’s winner is Pamela Woest! Well done and we look forward to having you on TeamCoachParry!
If you missed the first of this year’s Bonitas Online Comrades Success Seminar, you can catch the recording on our FaceBook page, YouTube page or website.
Today's episode of RUN with CoachParry is with one of our Online Training Platform Community members Mark Fontbin. Mark used to be a race walker but has since made the switch to running and wants to do Comrades. Mark brings some fantastic questions to this episode...
Markus chats to one of our CoachParry Online Training Platform members on today’s episode of RUN with CoachParry – Rory McGuirk. Rory has both a green and blue number for Comrades and Two Oceans respectively, however has been struggling with getting some motivation back. Markus and Rory explore some ideas to to find new ways to tackle the training; they venture into the advantages of perhaps changing Rory’s weekly schedule from a 7 day cycle to a 10 or 14 day cycle and the positive influence of strength work in his program.
They also look at some new exciting tech ideas such as training with power and discuss the aspects of Rory’s critical power tests and how to interpret and use the data to plan for Rory’s next Sainsbury attempt at Two Oceans next year.
If you’re looking for some guidance and programs for your next challenge join the CoachParry Online Training Platform where you get access to all our training programs as well as to our members only forum where you can chat to all the coaches for guidance.
Keep a look out for our #BiogenJourney with Hobbo who just finished his first triathlon this last weekend and share your journey and training with us using #BiogenJourney and you could win 3 months subscription to CoachParry Online Training Platform