Comrades Marathon in South Africa is a grueling, 90 km race in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. (For those Americans wondering, how far is the Comrades Marathon in miles – that’s a whopping 56 miles.) The first race dates back to 1921 when Comrades contestants ran to honor South African soldiers killed during WWI. Today, the Comrades is the oldest on-going marathon with the largest worldwide turnout. Over 20,000 runners from more than 60 countries will populate the Comrades starting line on June 9.
When is the marathon in terms of weather? Being in the southern hemisphere, Comrades takes place in June, at the beginning of South Africa’s winter season. This isn’t to say it’ll be chilly, but certainly far from the hotter-than-hot temps you’d expect in South Africa during their summer season.
Each year, Comrades organizers unveil the marathon’s campaign slogan. The Comrades Marathon 2018 will be marketed as “Asijiki – No turning back,” to represent the perseverance and determination needed to complete The Ultimate Human Race. The Comrades Marathon route alternates annually between the downhill Pietermaritzburg trail and the uphill Durban route. The 2018 marathon, Comrades’ 93rd running, will be held on the Down Run and start from the Pietermaritzburg City Hall and finish at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
All Comrades finishers within the 12-hour cut-off period will receive medals and badges depending on their place. Additionally, several sponsors and charities have teamed up to provide winners with prize money for categorized best times which also includes team competition.
International runners are able to enter online after completing a qualifying race between Aug. 27, 2017 and May 2018. Find the Marathon qualifying times and additional details about marathon entry here.
“The Comrades Marathon represents men and women from all nations who come together to celebrate mankind’s spirit over adversity.”
The Comrades race course covers over 56 miles of South African land making it quite easy to pick out a spot to view the marathon. Many spectators enjoy lunch at the Intaba View Restaurant while watching the highly conditioned runners conquer the demanding track of the National Highway. Be sure to make it to the Moses Mabhida Stadium by mid-afternoon to watch athletes hustle through the Comrades finish line.
If you are flying into this region of Africa, the King Shaka International Airport is the closest airport to the event location. Once there, the most recommended way to travel around Durban is by car. A central train station is located at the city centre and makes stops near the starting line in Pietermaritzburg. Local taxi services are also transportation options.
For participating runners: bus tickets are available for sale between Durban and Pietermaritzburg at the Comrades Marathon Expo Bus Ticket Kiosks prior to the race.
Most competitors in the Comrades will stay in or close to Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg. There are plenty of hotels and B&B housing to choose from in the area. If you will be spectating, lodging may be a bit more flexible depending on where you plan on watching the race. Downtown Durban offers a wide variety of accommodations and is located near the finish line.
The city of Durban offers tons of fun activities for people of all ages. Check out one of the world’s largest aquariums at uShaka Sea World or discover “living fossils” at the Botanical Gardens.
The Tala Game Reserve will take you on a tour that provides a personalized experience of the African safari.
Relax by the beach in the subtropical climate or head down to Kings Park Stadium to watch an entertaining game of rugby.
If you are looking to get a little more active, take a jog or bike ride through the famous “Golden Mile” trail that lines the coastal edge of South Africa.
Whether you plan on watching or competing in the race, the Comrades Marathon supports individuals from across the world who represent peace and unity. Charities allow athletes to run for a cause while spectators can appreciate the race as much as the scenic African landscape. Head on down to the province of KwaZulu-Natal in June for the ultimate summer experience and witness Comrades Marathon, South Africa’s premier running race.
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