If you’re running your first ever Comrades Marathon this year, congratulations! There is so much planning and preparation that goes into getting ready for the Ultimate Human Race (apart from the actual training), that we’ve gathered some must-know tips and essential practical advice from some regular Comrades Marathon runners to help you prepare for your weekend.
- Create a packing list. Now.
Start listing all the things you will need on race day, for the travel days, and for the rest days. The earlier you create this list, the better, as you can add to it as things start popping into your mind. Last thing you want is to scramble to borrow a charger for your watch the night before…
- Respect the taper
You would by now have done the bulk of your training and gotten all your long runs out of the way. This period of tapering is very important to allow your body to recover and strengthen. Make sure not to overdo your training during this period, and ease off the distance training. If losing fitness is a worry, then as Coach Parry says, the freshness of a rested body will compensate for this downtime. Rather don’t start your race on tired legs.
- The Pietermaritzburg start is cold
Some regulars have advised that it’s pretty cold while you wait for the gun in PMB. Running through the day into a hot and humid Durban means you need to ensure the gear you wear does not make you overheat – but you’ll definitely need something warm for the first few kilometres…
Top tip is to have outer layers that are either disposable, or items that you don’t mind leaving behind. Buy a cheap pair of builder’s cloth gloves from a hardware store before you travel, and pack a couple of black garbage bags to wear as a poncho. You’ll be surprised how warm these can be. Any outer layers, gloves, tops, blankets, etc that you do use but don’t want to keep, can be dropped at various points along the way where they get collected for charities. Make sure to leave these behind responsibly. If you cannot find a proper designated point for them, then leave them at a water-point or at a bin. Don’t litter.
- Pack all important running gear and nutrition in hand luggage when travelling
An important practical tip. After all your hard work, you don’t want to end up mislaying your trainers, club vest or stash of nutrition sachets on a flight or bus trip. Pack these items in your hand-luggage, and even wear your trainers while in transit.
- Shuttles to the start
If you’re staying in Durban on the night before the race, there are ample shuttle buses leaving early in the morning to take you to the start. Enjoy some gees to calm the nerves, or get a little sleep on the road, and book one. You can buy your tickets at the registration venue you have chosen for number collection.
There is an additional shuttle service selling tickets online too: https://www.ticketpros.co.za/portal/web/index.php/event/8fa58ad6-56a5-5d23-c4c5-62e177733fb8
- What to carry on the day
There’s conflicting advice, so do what’s best for you – but be rest assured there are refreshment stations every 3km, and these are apparently very well stocked. Some tables may be busy and delay you, so keep a few lightweight snacks on you. It will be important that you fuel up every 45 minutes with some light carbohydrates and water. Take a snack and energy drink to the start line. You will have a big wait between breakfast and the start gun, so your body will need something before you reach the first stop on the road. If you are planning on running with a hydration vest, hopefully you’ve tested it on a long run to make sure it does not rub or chafe (think humid Durban), and does not weigh you down when you get tired. 90km is a long way if something is irritating you.
- Don’t try anything new
Don’t get caught in the hype at the expo with a new miracle energy drink or bar that you haven’t tried before. It may not agree with you, so stick to your tried and tested. Same with gear as well. By all means treat yourself to those special socks or leggings, but rather use them after the race.
- Stock up on sleep a few nights before
With the early start, the nerves, and being in a different bed, a good sleep the night before Comrades is not guaranteed. Rather ‘stock-pile’ some extra sleep the few nights before. It will help!
- Expo hours and number pickup
Thursday 25 – 09h00 – 19h00
Friday 26th – 09h00 – 19h00
Saturday 27th – 09h00 – 17h00
Number collection will either be from Durban ICC, or Comrades Marathon House PMB, depending on the option you selected on your entry. Double check your details now.
More info here: https://comrades.com/race-info/rules-and-info
If you’re staying with us during this time, then please feel free to tag us in your posts. We’d love to share this special experience with you, and see your medals!
Wishing you the best of luck, and a safe, fun, healthy and memorable day on the road.