The first-ever Comrades Marathon was held on Empire Day, which was on 24th May 1921. That day 34 runners lined up before the Pietermaritzburg City Hall to begin a race to Durban to commemorate the spirit and camaraderie of the soldiers who fought in the Great War. It’s Founder Vic Clapham (war veteran & SA Railways engine driver) set up the event with a vision to create a living memorial to the spirit of his “comrades” who suffered so greatly in the war.
The first race was run on old dust roads, with the runners having to pass through several gates and at least one stream. It was won by Bill Rowan, a 26-year old Transvaal farmer in a time of 8:59, which would be the slowest winning time in the history of the race. There were 16 official finishers of the first race.
Over the years the Comrades Marathon has evolved its own set of traditions. Since it began in 1921, the race is officially started with the firing of a gun by either the Mayor of Durban or Pietermaritzburg, depending on the start venue, while his/her counterpart of the finish city welcomes the winner and receives an official letter of greeting, which is exchanged between the two cities annually.
The famous Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire has become associated with both the start and finish of the race, and the runners own spontaneous rendition of Shosholoza is a sure signal to runners that the race is soon to begin.
At the finish, the Chairperson of the Comrades Marathon Association fires a gun to designate the 12-hour cut-off of the race. Other officials or celebrities fire the gun to designate the cut-off times for the various medals. Immediately following the final cut-off gun at 17h30, a lone bugler plays The Last Post to signify the end of a very long day.
Comrades Marathon 2020 will be run on Sunday, 14th June 2020, starting at 05h30 at The City Hall, Pietermaritzburg, and will finish at 17h30 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. It will be the 95th running of the world-famous event.
The distance in 2020 will be approximately 90km.
There are 27,500 places available for 2020. These opened on 28th October 2019 and will close on November 30th 2019, or sooner if capacity is reached (at the time of posting this it was nearly reached). There are 2500 international places available for 2020.
We have guaranteed entries available at Africa Marathons so you can apply for these directly through us.
To secure your place for Comrades Marathon 2020, you will need to run a qualifying time in an official marathon of under 4hr49min59sec. Further information on qualifying times is available on our website here.
There is prize money to be won for the top 10 male and female athletes. The winners of the Comrades Marathon 2020 will receive prize money of R525 000 each. There is also age category prize money on offer too. There is more information on the prize money allocation here.
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.
The Comrades Marathon Association do not have records for the up and down runs, as the distances differ with each run. Instead, they have the fastest recorded time for each route.
The male record for the 2020 down run: 05:18:19 set by David Gatebe in 2016.
The female record for the 2020 down run: 05:54:43 set by Frith Van der Merwe in 1989.
This is some volume of food and drink!:
Coke: 30,350 litres
Fanta / Crème Soda: 10,650 litres
Coke paper cups (175ml): 430,000
Thirsti Water sachets: 2 million
Energy drink sachets: 480,000
Mageu Number 1: 32,640 sachets
Bananas: 9 tons
Oranges: 4.5 tons
Energy biscuits: 500 kg
Salticrax biscuits: 500 kg
Racefood energy bars: 20,000
Cooked potatoes: 1.5 tons
If you are interested in running the Comrades Marathon, we have packages available, which included race entry. You can contact us on [email protected] or take a look at our packages here or ring us on +44 1932 361807 (UK) +1 844 390 1798 (USA) +44 (0)7791360170 (Rob).