Comrades 2014

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

101 to 120 of 1,430 messages
30/06/2013 at 20:48

Bike it - ditto, great video!

Minni - as Becca said, I found it wasn't so much the gradient of the hills, but how long they went on for and consequently the percentage of the whole run that was some sort of up hill incline.  But as a novice last year, I have no useful insight into hills on the down run (I'm going to treat the down run in 2014 as a novice again).    

And in terms of times, from a slower runner point of view - I have a marathon PB of 4:08 and managed to finish in just under 11hrs (I think my half way split made my time overall similar to faster runners that I read on here post-race = double + 30mins ish) .  With my marathon time I knew I was never going to be able to make sub9hrs for a bill rowan medal so there was no point in killing myself, I would much rather 'enjoy' the experience as much as possible (the bronze medal time bracket is quite big).  But also I thought I had an outside chance of sub11hrs rather than a 12hr finish (considering sub5hr marathon is the qualifying criteria), so I trained for and set off at 10:45ish pace for my dream goal of sneaking a bronze medal and then as for everyone also just aiming for a finish overall.  Other, faster runners may have different thoughts/strategies for medal boundaries further up the field...

30/06/2013 at 21:49

Thanks Becca and Emily for your views on the hills.  

Emily - was this your first ultra or just your first Comrades?

01/07/2013 at 00:02

Great video Bike It. Atmosphere.. wow.

Friday, was showing some people from SA around work.. Visiting the country came up over lunch.. mentioned Comrades, turns out their company has a charity team so might be able to get in there. 

Minni, you thinking of doing 2014 now rather than 2015?

01/07/2013 at 04:13

FRC - no, definitely 2015. I reckon I would need a 2 year build up and would prefer the UP to the DOWN. I did a downhill HM last year and thought it would be easy but my legs were shot by mile 7!!! 

01/07/2013 at 10:07

Minni - there are about 5 cutoff points along the course at which runners who don't make it in time are prevented from going further.  In some ways it is practical, but is is quite common for SA races to have cutoffs to sort of set a 'minimum standard'. The final cut-off is 8km from the finish and to maximise the drama it is actually set so that runners can pass through there and not finish without running faster than their average pace.

Lindsay Weight made a study and found that on average, the comrades finish time may be predicted by multiplying the marathon PB time by 2.53 for women and 2.62 for men.   However, this formula does not hold for the very fast male or the slowest runners.  For men with a sub-3 hrs marathon (and therefore seeded in ‘A’), the ratio is 2.75 and for the slowest runners (batch H, both genders) the ratio is 2.4.

Comrades is far from flat so it is tricky to plan to run at a set pace like for a flat road marathon.  Personally I run to effort with the objective to get to halfway feeling fine.  This means I run something a bit like my slow LSR pace for a hilly route on average, but within that I may go 7m/m down hill and 11m/m uphill for short periods.  I also take planned walking breaks roughly every 6miles for 3 minutes.

As Emily and Becca say, no single hill is by itself unrunnable.  It is the accumaulation of fatigue over the whole course that causes the later molehills to be mountains


Thanks for everyone's nice comments about the video - I've still got the individual clips from 2012 that I should do the same for at some point.

Edited: 01/07/2013 at 10:09
01/07/2013 at 22:29

Brilliant video, BikeIt.  Brings it all back.  The 12hr countdown even made my girlfriend cry!  And your "molehills into mountains" comment is spot on.  I was genuinely concerned that I'd have to walk up the speed hump just before the Maritzberg stadium.  I managed to scale it, but to have to think about it is itself a bit of a concern.

The video also reminded me about what is to be a cornerstone of my training for next year; learning the lyrics to Shosholoza.  I've never bought a song on itunes before but I think I could splash 79p on that.  Does anyone have or know the 'correct' version, the one played at the start?  The Invictus version isn't the one I want, plus it costs 20p more.  Soweto Gospel Choir is also quite popular, but the Sacre version seems a closer match.

In other news, I see that Runnersworld have revamped the account bit of the website.  Hmm.

02/07/2013 at 16:06

Chaps, what thoughts on recovering from a very flat 100-miler 4 weeks (I think) before Comrades? I know everyone's different etc. but I'm sure more than one of you is mad enough to have tried it already

02/07/2013 at 16:56

Andy - Thames Path ? I took a tactical DNF last year to focus on Comrades as the conditions were so horrible that I wasn't sure I'd have made the cut anyway. So I still haven't run a 100 and can't really comment, but will be back to try again - but this time no Comrades after so no worries for me. I seem to recover quite well from long slow runs, but I haven't been that long yet...

02/07/2013 at 17:44

Ally - youtube + google will do you - no need for iTunes. It is v v short (luckily).

Minni - find a few people on here who run marathons at a similar pace to you and ask them how they got on in past Comrades! The variation is pretty wide - because there's so much to go wrong in 7-12 hours. You can fall over, have niggles flare up, get blisters, throw up, have an allergic reaction to your sun cream, or all of the above!

Keeping a positive attitude can be pretty hard but is very important.

The Comrades predictor calculators are wayyyy optimistic, I think based on people doing their qualifying marathons in 30 degree temps on hilly courses, untapered!

None of the hills are steep but, seriously, no kidding here, there is maybe a couple of 100 metres on the course which is flat. Think something like Sussex, twice, with Box Hill in it, five times. If you find a hill and just run up and down it for hours on end (and, therefore, at a very easy pace) this is as specific training as you can get pretty much... particularly if you put your own aid station at the top

I didn't find the Down hurt that much but of course I wasn't going very fast on the downhills (or the uphills of course) - very different from say a HM where you are giving it some, rather than going as easily as you can so that you're still going come tea-time. Anecdote time: last year at Slow Duck's 100 Mara breakfast, I heard someone seriously refer to HMs as "short distance" races. lol.

02/07/2013 at 22:03

Kevin you've seen through my cunning plan!

I'm really not sure what came over me to enter it but it's got to be done! I want a Western States shot.

I suspect I couldn't risk the Comrades too.. lots of outlay and a high risk of being totally busted!

03/07/2013 at 07:13

Andy - snap. My DNF is forcing me to do Round Rotherham to keep my WS ticket count going. TP next year would get me up to 3 tickets so I might eventually get a place. I think it depends what you want out of Comrades - just a finish, or a time ? It doesn't sound like great prep if you have a challenging target in SA.  

03/07/2013 at 07:55

100 miles. People say we are crazy doing Comrades, but come on, that's proper loony bin stuff! Best of luck in your plan though.

Bikeit - I really enjoyed you video and found it really tough to watch the 12 hour cutoff. So much emotion captured on a little phone, so being there for it must be quite something. I must stay to watch it one year.

I have a range of marathon to Comrades conversions.

2003 saw a 10:33 off a 4:10 marathon so 2.53 conversion.

2010 saw a 8:38 off a 3:14 so 2.67 conversion.

2012 was 7:20 off a 2:45 so 2.67 (but this race was a bit of a misnomer as I had 6 weeks off through injury right before the race).

2013 was a 7:10 off a previous 12 month best of 2:55 so 2.46 conversion (again, not sure you can take too much from this as I didn't race a marathon all out during the build up, so taking marathon PB of 2:45 the conversion works out to 2.61 but the conditions this year were a bit freakish).

So I think what you can say is Comrades is really tough to predict and I'll back up what Fido says about the predictors being way optimistic.

I have entered Cape Town Marathon in September, so time to resume the battle for an injury free marathon build up resulting in (hopefully) a 2:39 marathon.


03/07/2013 at 13:04

Minni - I did my first Comrades this year in 11hrs 12. My marathon PB is 3.51 and I am your bog standard 26.2 distance runner - non of those crazy 100 miles for me !! I had managed to get to 46 marathons - starting in 2008 so kind of have my pacing sorted - for the 26.2. I was after a bronze but knew I'd blown it with 15 k to go so kind of eased off just to get it finished as to DNF was just too awful to think about.

Comrades was just not something that you could pace yourself normally at.  Those hills and the distance is just so way out there as already mentioned above. I was a complete novice before Comrades at that distance (35 miles was the most I'd run in training and that was on a track) and on those hills. I do a lot of hill running but again, Comrade hills are just so different from anything I'd ever encountered.

I focussed more on having rough times to get to certain points. I was most stressed before I got to first check point as even though I'd written them all on my arm in pen - where they were (district) and and what had all smudged and worn off due to the heat and my general clammyness !

I got to first checkpoint with just over 2 hours to spare so knew then what pace to keep going at if I could. By that time I'd kind of settled down and also calmed down and started to enjoy it as much as I could and just used my watch as my guide....for the time...not the pace. I wore a bog standard Ironman watch as my Garmin would not have lasted. I believe SD also uses a watch and even called himself a Luddite for doing so. It has worked for him so that was enough for me.

Hope that helps.



03/07/2013 at 17:31

BikeIt - Great video...thanks for sharing ... Appreciated

Warren - Your marathon to Comrades conversions are interesting. The ratio increases as your times come down (i.e. not a linear progression). My 'normal' marathon times are c. 3:30, however with a knee operation in December'12 and no running until end February'13 my first post op marathon in early April was 3:56 which with a Comrades finish time of 10:29:50 gives me a conversion of 2.67 (mid your spread of conversions). If I follow the logic then a 30 minute marathon improvement i.e. back to 3:30 should drop my Comrades time by 80 minutes... which unfortunately is not enough for a BR! Unless the DOWN is genuinely a faster run?

03/07/2013 at 18:49

I'm really enjoying reading about your experiences and conversions.   

I've looked at the Comrades training plans, which look Ok.  I've got the Round Rotherham pencilled in for 2014 as a first attempt at the distance and I'm hoping this will give me an idea of what I need to work on in the months leading up to June 2015. 

Edited: 03/07/2013 at 18:50
03/07/2013 at 18:52

Piers - I think it is - faster, that is. 

04/07/2013 at 04:07

Andy - let me get this right. You plan to do 3 long races - 2 hundred milers and a Comrades? No reason you couldn't, but don't expect your legs to recover from Comrades like they did this year. Off your super fast marathon PB, for whatever reason (losing your shoe didn't help, but what a story!) your legs had an 'easy' run on the uphill course. Next year will be different, unless you 'jog' Comrades.

Piers - the answer you are looking for is perhaps the same as me -- we need a faster marathon time later this year to help those ratios along.

I'm trying to secure a pen B (3:20) qualifier this weekend in prep for a full-on marathon this October.

04/07/2013 at 13:25

Very interesting ratio figures.

Possum, think you did great with your time. Of 3 friends running all were +1 hr or more over the expected times with the tough conditions this year. Congrats.

Comrades 2012, one of my gym instructors had done a 3:14 marathon and entered on a whim, zero specific training, no ultras, and limited mileage per week of 15 miles, just lots of strength sessions.

No surprise. Off a 3:14 time, He ran 9:45. Completely underestimated the race, didn't pace it properly (Fido was a metronome !), his quads destroyed by 40 miles in and injured for months after.

Alan Peacock, what is the date range for Comrades qualifying time? Having run VLM in April, wasn't planning on racing another marathon flat out.

Minni I'm doing Rotherham this year, though nver thinking of it as comparable 50m since its part trail and completely different hills. Most typical races with 2-3000ft of hills up you tend to get the same back so can recover and make up time, also rest the muscles.

Looking at this years Comrades stats , 5500ft+ of up, and maybe 3000ft back..  So deviously hard and tiring. On a down its reversed but your quads will take an absolute battering so not necessarily easier?

Are there any comparable UK marathons or ultras in course style with lots of down to test quads for 2014, or Up for 2015? Hardmoors? Excalibur?

Seeing how others have done in the past and posts the last few pages, after doing 2 ultras so far, was planning on another 3-5 ultras over the next 9 months (got one next weekend), mix in 5-6 non tapered marathons with some abroad in hot conditions to get acclaimatised. Reasonable plan?

04/07/2013 at 13:58

FRC - certainly not thinking Round Rotherham would be comparable to Comrades bits good tester of 50m.  I'm lucky in that I live in a very hilly area and looking at the grades of some of my regular routes they are harder than the Comrade hills so I'm sure I can make good use of them.  VLM this year doesn't count for qualifying I'm afraid - it has to be after June.  Details on the website.  I'll have to do an Autumn marathon next year too. 

04/07/2013 at 16:20

BikeIt - great video!

Andy - I'm afraid I can't contribute to the 100 mile debate as I've yet to complete one...

Regarding the maraton ratio question - there is a table which gives you a time based on your marathon time and the distance trained between 1 Jan and race day. It is an old table so race day is assumed to be mid-June. I will see if I can dig it up and post on here sometime next week...

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