Comrades 2014

As one journey ends, a new one begins...

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20/06/2013 at 13:01

Thanks SD for the results booklet! 

20/06/2013 at 13:06

PS I came back for the B2B and ended up getting the bronze I had wanted so very much (but not got) the year before. I think making my head think "do it for the B2B and enjoy it and don't worry about anything else" helped.

20/06/2013 at 14:22

I had an amazing time at this years Comrades and the Comrade vibe is still with me. I have been back to running since 4 days after and have put in a 5k PB...God knows how !! Am feeling fit, well and happy and even tho it took me 11hrs 12 mins to complete Comrades on a novice run, I do want to go back. I found out whilst out there about the B2B and how it can only be done after a novice run. It took me only a couple of days to decide to go back as wanted to 'run' it past my long suffering non running blokie back home. He knew straight away I'd want to go back. He knows me better than I know myself ! We can't do these things without the support of our family and better halfs.

I want a bronze as was chasing it this year and knew I'd blown it when had been running for 10.30 hours and took the foot off the pedal and just wanted to stay well and keep going - and I want a B2B. So yeah...unfinished business and whilst I will NOT be chasing a green number anytime soon, these other two medals are so chaseable. 

20/06/2013 at 17:57

PH, unexpected illfortune aside, you might well be able to knock half an hour or more off that time, given the exceptional conditions this year and it being DOWN next year... but best not to think too much about that!

21/06/2013 at 12:12

I'll certainly give it a go Fido.

The conditions were very tough but I wasn't surprised at that as just thought it was 'normal' for Comrades. It was only after the event I found out it actually was one of the toughest. I have done quite a few marathons where people have been collapsing by the side of the road due to heat, so strangely I was not overly concerned to see it happening at Comrades. Just adjusted my expectations of the day due to the weather and starting to throw up with 15k still to go and just focussed on getting it done in the time allowed....but yeah......I won't think about doing anything too crazy because as we know, it's a long way to go yet to get to that starting line once again. 

24/06/2013 at 11:11

I'm reposting this from the 2013 thread as it may prove useful to some:

What is often said is that the down run is 10 minutes faster but hurts a lot more than the up despite being 2km shorter.

Each run has the hardest terrain in the first half.  The first half of the down is very lumpy and with the bigger climbs being the gentle climb out of PMB, the descent of Polly Shorts and then the climbs to Umlass road and Inchanga.  The up is a continous long haul of pretty much continous ascent for 25mi.  The first half of the down damages your legs with the lumpiness, the first half of the up mainly tires your legs.  

The middle section between Inchanga and Bothas is very challenging on both directions, but probably seems harder on the down due to the 3 hills from HW at Drummond to Bothas hill village where the continous down starts.

The second half of the down hurts as you continously land on your quads but there are only 3 small ascents (Cowies, 45th cutting, tollgate), but you can generally keep moving despite the damage inflicted by the first half and middle section.  The second half of the up is so lumpy and the runners so fatigued that each tiny hill is like a mountain and frequent walking can happen.  Particular Little Pollies and Polly Shortts represent difficult obsticles and generally 'no-one runs Pollys'.

Some people say that heavier people prefer the down, lighter people the up.  Certainly I consider that the down is easier for me.

Whichever direction it is run, the crowd support is amazing and it is amazing running challenge 

In regards to training for the final third, I started to believe that being strong is essential (rather than just having good endurance).  The challenge of Comrades is more on resisting fatigue of the muscles and maintaining a working body - at all times my heart and lungs are operating as they would at 'easy pace'. I concluded that I had run too much in training.  The key thing seems to be able to resist muscular fatigue.

I started cross training in the gym for the core, upper body and legs strength. I also started spinning classes as I got a leg injury anyway which prevents me running.

Particularly for the down, then the quads ability to resist eccentric loading is essential.  Weighted squats/lunges, plyometrics and downhill hill reps will improve the strength in this regard.

24/06/2013 at 11:20

Piers asked what is plyomtrics, so here is my answer.

Plyometrics is jump type excercises that do eccentric loading of the leg muscles.  Eccentric loading meaning that the muscle is simulateously contracting by the regular muscle contraction process and simulaneously being extended by an external force.  Imagine standing on a park bench and jumping off - as your body lands you bend at the knees and the quads are externally pulled and your quads apply force so you can  absorb the impact.

Eccentric loading happens when you run downhill. The quads have to absorb the shock of the descent.  If you are not used to it micro-tears can occur in the muscle tissue - this is what causes the pain of the down run.  It is what make the down run much longer to recover from than the up run as well.

Plyometrics is this type of jumping excercise to leap onto or over structures.  Or simply spring up from a squat and land so that you come to a stop in a seated position.

Plyometrics require strength to be already developed so I'll be working on weighted squats and lunges for a few months before I start plyometrics.

Edited: 24/06/2013 at 11:24
24/06/2013 at 22:30

Bike it - thanks for that.  Personally I think I would find the uphill *easier* because I do find my quads get mashed with a lot of downhill, especially pounding on the road.   Interesting about building leg strength to help you in the last miles. Something else to add to the list! 

25/06/2013 at 11:41

Bike It - Many thanks for the thorough response... the more I read feedback on the DOWN run the more important your advice become! I'm certainly going to work on limiting the inevitable quad damage & will build up toward incorporating some plyometrics in 2014

25/06/2013 at 14:49


I am planning on doing my first down run next year (after completing my first up run in 8.24 this year). I own an indoor rower (Concept 2) and use it every now and again for a bit of cross training. As of 3 weeks ago, I am rowing a 10k session, once a week in order to strengthen my legs and core for the down run. I am planning on upping this to twice a week. Aside from Plyometrics, any other suggestions or advice?



26/06/2013 at 13:46

I'm no expert, but I would suggest the plyometrics should focus on single leg exercises - ie, not jumping. My reading suggested downhill lunges (I have a steep driveway, but you could also do it off a bench) and a variety of exercises designed to put most of your weight through each leg individually, because that is of couse what you will be doing on the day. Although its not plyometric, single leg squats are also a good idea.

27/06/2013 at 01:59

Hello peeps.

Want to do Comrades next year, inspired by following Fidos buildup & run last year and others the last two. Had enough of training flat out for a traditional road marathon for awhile, 3 ultras booked for next 4 months but need some target/ goal for the next year.

Comrades and hopefully a BR is it so here I am.

Tons of great info from Fido and Bike It and others on 38 things to do and also coping with the down run... great info 

All those weighted squats, box jumps, single leg & split squats tonight feel more worthwhile now, if bloody painful doing

Ideal events to do Dec to April to build up?

Nice to see Minni here too.

27/06/2013 at 13:34

IF I enter next idea why I pretend I won' will be a strange one to train for. I am currently at 47 marathons. Brighton marathon next year just so happens to fall on my 50th birthday so it would be mad to not do my 50th on my 50th as such a cool thing to do.

I ran 17 last year to get ahead of the game as have planned on Brighton being my 50th since they released the date. I did 17 as I thought I would be unable to walk let alone run after Comrades but am happy to report and running better than ever.

I can now only enter two marathons for this year and I want them to be good ones i.e. scenic, cross country. I have so far chosen and entered New Forest and am just about to enter Salisbury Was going to enter Portsmouth but it is the day after my Xmas work do....NOT a good idea.

So, getting a decent qualifying time for Comrades 2014 will have to wait until Brighton 2014.

Also won't be able to do any 'official' marathons as part of training for 2014 until after Brighton.

I could of course just say meh, don't hold out for the 50th on 50th but it just feels right to wait.

It's all very thinky this running malarky !! 

28/06/2013 at 09:37

Last night I made a little video montage of the footage I made during Comrades 2013:


28/06/2013 at 13:39

Loved it Bike it, brought back the atmosphere.

Sick of Braai smoke? Wash out your mouth sir! Impossible!

28/06/2013 at 13:48

Cracking video Martin. Brings a real sense to what its like running the race. And just love the simple sound of your two medals clinking together at the end. Well deserved and hard earned.

28/06/2013 at 19:14

Loved the video Bike It. Thank you for taking the time to do it. It  really brought the whole day back to me and made me feel so proud to have finished. Also appreciate all your analysis. In a bit of limbo at the moment - waiting for surgery on my shoulder in next week or so having tripped on one of the famous cat's eyes but can't wait to get back for the down run next year. 

29/06/2013 at 19:34

Great video Bike It.

29/06/2013 at 22:08

Really enjoyed your vid bike it. Those poor people who missed the cut off.   How dies that work? Do people a few miles out continue to the finish or are they pulled off the course? 

Can I ask those experienced people a few questions? 

How does your marathon pb compare to your Comrades time?  

For the first timers, how do you decide on your pace for Comrades? 

And, just how bad are the hills? I've looked at the climb gradings and they are not as bad as some of the hills I run on regularly, off road.  Although admittedly they are not part of a 50m run!!  

Edited: 29/06/2013 at 22:10
30/06/2013 at 16:13

Great video Bike It. 

Minni the hills are not particularly steep, for the most part, as you have seen but some of them are really quite long and there are lots of hills - you are pretty much always going either up or down so the ones later in the race, in particular, can seem much wors

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