Comrades Marathon UP-RUN
Distance: Approximately 87km
Entries are done online. Don’t delay. Enter as soon as they are available. A qualifying sub-5 hour marathon is necessary to participate, but not to enter. You must qualify within 2 months of the race.
The Up-Run is a 87 Km route starting at Durban City Hall with the first 8km extremely exciting, but difficult with a very narrow section going onto the highway where there are no pavements or places to stop or walk. The crowd is so dense making it impossible to slow or stop. Try everything to get your calves warmed up before the start as its all climbing and no relief till you clear Tollgate. From there are five major hills (note: when a hill has a name, you know it’s a hill of note!) The first half is slow climbing. Be patient and follow your race plan. One of the hardest parts of the race is the following 30km, which is fairly flat with very few crowds. Keep your mind focused and body ready for the legendary hill to follow: Polly Shorts. Once you’ve conquered this, you’ve got a final 7km push to the stadium. Expect to arrive in dusky conditions and the temperature to drop quickly, but the medal should help keep you warm.
If possible, get to Durban days before. Settle down and enjoy the exhibition and avoid unnecessary last-minute stress. Make sure you provide the support crew with food for the 5 club points; do not leave these for the last minute, or risk not having your supplies at the club points. Consider supplements, food, Vaseline and socks. Ensure these are in a good bag that is well-marked. These will be handled by a lot of people before they get to their destination, so please do this carefully.
- The first 40Km is dedicated to climbing the first 4 major hills. So reserve your speed for later. Climb responsibly and with care to reserve your energy for the second half. Walk before you need to; take food in regularly conserve your reserves for the push later, and when you get to steep bits – no matter how good you feel – walk or be conservative.
- Bring a change of socks to prevent blisters in the second half. By halfway your feet are wet and socks have broken down. Change them on route. If it’s chafing in the beginning, it will be hell at the end.
- By the time you are through the hills you must be feeling great. If not: stop and reassess. You have time. Find a friend along the route doing more or less the same pace. Helping someone else often boosts your own energy somehow. It has a mental stimulus if you are assisting someone in need.
- Setting realistic goals along the route based on cut-off points is essential, but ensure you provide extra time for any unforeseen incidents. During the 2018 down-run, I aimed for 10:30, but by the time I hit Pinetown, a major blister had burst; I had not managed my socks correctly. The result was a delay of almost an hour getting repairs done. I only made the end in with minutes to spare. Give yourself time for mistakes. Aim high. Target a time based on an 11 Hour finish, not a 12.
- Supporters: While the route is accessible, it’s difficult to get anywhere fast. Choose only two points before the 60km mark and prepare for traffic to the finish line.
Reviewer: Steve Akester