Quintin van Jaarsveld
The South Coast Striders have put in the hard yards and are up for the Comrades Marathon on Sunday.
Thousands of athletes from across the world, including 37 members of the Uvongo-based Striders, will tackle the 86.83-kilometre up-run starting at the City Hall in Durban and finishing at the Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg.
“We have had a few withdrawals due to injuries, but we still have an impressive field,” Striders running captain Mark Smith told eHowzit.
The 94th edition of the Ultimate Human Race will be the first for three members of the South Coast contingent, namely Sigrid Engelbrecht, Wendy Makhaluza and Ryan Mather-Pike, with the latter set to join his wife Cathy, who has done two Comrades in the past.
Swalleh Ameer will be running his 20th Comrades this year and is therefore in a position to earn a much sought-after Double Green number, while Pastor Daan van Niekerk (pictured) has his sights set on a Green number as he lines up for his 10th Comrades.
The trail-blazing Zwelitsha “Tiger” Gono – the first black athlete in the history of the world-renowned race to win 40 medals – is still going strong and will be participating in his 42nd Comrades.
Also back with a purpose is Mavela Nyembezi, who won the Striders’ sole silver medal last year. A strong hill runner, the club’s star athlete is determined to beat his incredible 2018 time of 07:25 and has put in loads of extra training.
Smith said the runners have left no stone unturned in order to be in peak condition for the biggest race of the year.
“The training has gone really well. The members have all stuck to their respective programs. In addition to that, they have participated in training runs that I have organised over the past few months, such as the Double Gorge, the 60km run on St Faith’s road and the Beloved Long Run. Some of the members also joined in on the route testers in Durban.”
The Striders gathered for their traditional pre-Comrades pasta evening on Wednesday as a final boost for the runners. Excitement is reaching a fever pitch, with Smith adding, “We are looking forward to seeing our colours along the Comrades route and over the finish line on Sunday.”
South Coast Striders 2019 Comrades Marathon runners: Zwelitsha Gono, Christopher Mortimer, Raymond Gaze, Donnovan Mulder, Swalleh Ameer, Vusi Vezi, Isak Ludick, Arthur Flascas, Gary Lennon, Deborah Berridge, Daan van Niekerk, Mavela Nyembezi, Nkosinathi Shonga, Henry Mqadi, Goodman Nqayi, George Cele, Martin Venter, Zandile Dunywa, Pieter de Bruin, Fikile Finiza, Brother Moyo, Isaac Madlala, Heinrich Lotz, Hector Macleod, Lenard du Toit, Cathy Mather-Pike, Chris Mqadi, Dawid Snyman, Hennie Kanfer, Lindelani Itabor, Graeme Milligan, Bongani Mbhele, Alfred Xaba, Emmanuel Mufamadi, Sigrid Engelbrecht (novice), Wendy Makhaluza (novice), Ryan Mather-Pike (novice).
Twenty fun facts about the 2019 Comrades Marathon:
- The first Comrades Marathon was run on Empire Day 24 May 1921, when 34 runners lined up before the Pietermaritzburg City Hall to commence a race to Durban to commemorate the spirit and camaraderie of the soldiers who fought in the Great War. It owes its origins to the tireless efforts of its founder Vic Clapham (war veteran & SA Railways engine driver) whose vision it was 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.
The 2019 Comrades Marathon will be run on Sunday, 9 June 2019, starting at 05h30 at the Durban City Hall, and finishing at 17h30 at the Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg. It will be the 94th running of the world famous event.
- Comrades traditions:
Over the years the race has evolved its own set of traditions. Since its inception in 1921, the Comrades Marathon has 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 2 cities annually.
The strains of Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire has become associated with both the start and finish of the race, while Max Trimborn’s “cockcrow”, and more recently 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 and/or celebrities fire the guns 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 culmination of a very long day.
- This year’s Up Run is 86.83km.
- The winners of this year’s race will walk/run away with R500,000 each. Should they break the record, they will receive a further R500,000.
- This year, there are 17,268 men and 4,357 women tackling the 2019 Comrades Marathon. This brings the total number of runners to 21,625.
- Refreshment statistics to blow your mind!
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
- South African runners dominate the field with 15,835 men and 3,982 women taking part.
- Comrades will be welcoming 1,808 international runners
- The most common language spoken by the runners is firstly English (10,525), followed by isiZulu (3,069), Afrikaans (2,687) and Northern Sotho (1,123).
- These are the top 10 most represented countries:
Country, Total, Male, Female
South Africa: 19 817, 15 835, 3982
United Kingdom: 321, 252, 69
India: 210, 192, 18
Zimbabwe: 204, 165, 39
Brazil: 189, 154, 35
USA: 167, 108, 59
Australia: 139, 97, 42
Botswana: 70, 61, 9
Russia: 64, 51, 13
Swaziland: 63, 49, 14
- These are the 5 most common surnames of runners in 2019:
- The most interesting careers include one mayor, three auctioneers, six radio presenters, nine postmen, 16 air traffic controllers, 32 pilots, 66 metallurgists, 161 farmers and 436 doctors.
- The oldest male runner was born in 1939, his name is Alf Burgess and he will be turning 80 next week.
- The oldest female runner is 70-year-old Rosina Sebati, born in 1948.
- The youngest runners are 20-year-old runners Ross Holland and Diana Riordan, both born in 1998.
- Here is the age category breakdown for 2019:
- The largest club is Team Vitality (Central Gauteng) with 877 runners, followed by Team Vitality (Athletics Gauteng Central with 380 runners and in third, Run Zone AC with 278 runners.
- The most popular shoe chosen by runners in 2019 is Asics (9056), followed by Nike (4953), New Balance (3020) and adidas (2866).
- Runners Barry Holland and Louis Massyn will both be running their 47th consecutive Comrades Marathons. They currently hold the most Comrades finishes in history.
- The best Up Run times:
Male: Leonid Shvetsov (Russia) 2008, 5:24:49
Female: Elena Nurgalieva (Russia) 2006, 6:09:24