- The first Comrades Marathon was run on the 24th of May 1921 (Empire Day).
- The constitution of the race states that one of its primary aims is to “celebrate mankind’s spirit over adversity”.
- 34 people started the 1921 marathon. Only 16 finished it.
- Bill Rowan was the first person to win the marathon in a time of 8 hours and 59 minutes.
- The race was the idea of World War I veteran Vic Chapman (who had endured a gruelling march of 2700 km through German East Africa).
- Frances Hayward was the first woman to run the Comrades (in 1923). She ran unofficially because her entry was refused. She finished in a time of 11 hours and 35 minutes and did not receive a medal.
The winner of the 1930 race, Wally Hayward went on to win the race another four times in the 1950s and became the oldest man to complete the race in 1989.
- The Comrades Marathon was not hosted between 1941 and 1945 (when the Union of South Africa was involved in World War 2).
- In 1948 a race tradition was born when race official Max Trimborn gave a loud imitation of a cock’s crow (instead of firing a starting gun). The tradition still continues today. His recorded voice is played over loudspeakers at the starting line.
- The race grew considerably in the sixties: From 104 starters in 1960 to 703 starters in 1969.
- The Comrades Marathon attracted foreign entries for the first time in 1962. English Runner John Smith won the race in that year and missed the course record by 33 seconds.
- Runners who have run 25 Comrades finishes to their name, run for free.
- 43% of runners suffer from cramps.
- More than 50% of runners finish the race in the last hour.
- Bruce Fordyce won the Comrades Marathon a record nine times (1981 – 88 and 1990).
- The first Comrades Marathon was run on Empire Day, May 24, 1921, with just 34 runners.
- The time limit for the Comrades Marathon is 12 hours.
- The first 10 men and women to cross the finish line get gold medals.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO WALK THE COMRADES MARATHON
Lindsey Parry: Yes, it is possible. There are a few people who have done it. … It is a lot harder to do than running the Comrades Marathon. Just because walking by nature is slower than running, so therefore you have to walk quite fast.
Can I run a marathon without training?
“Prepare for a long and painful recovery if you didn’t train properly,” Fierras says. “Running a marathon without training can send you to the hospital and cause muscle strains, stress fractures, and long-term joint damage.”
Medals are awarded to all finishers of the Comrades Marathon in under 12 hours. There are also additional medals to be won for certain finishing times. The medal for Comrades 2020 is a special 95th edition medal, a nice one to add to your collection.
Down: Men: David Gatebe: 5:18:19 (2016) Women: 5:54:43 (1989) Frith van der Merwe Up: Men: 5:24:49 (2008) Leonid Shvetsov Women: 5:58:53 (2019) Gerda Steyn
How old must you be to run the Comrades?
The minimum age requirement is that an athlete must be 20 years of age on the day of the race. The Comrades Marathon is run under the auspices of IAAF, ASA and KZNA.