I must be the odd one out. I prefer London for the running experience - Paris for the friends experience. Although London is certainly more crowded, I had no trouble getting a good pace immediately out the gate (3:40 ish marathon pace) and holding that until 14 miles - at which time my pace dropped dramatically but that was my fault, not the race's. London's support is fantastic, but I think the course is also better in some respects. In Paris, miles 20-25 ish are very boring - a time when you need support and interest and you have neither.
But, int he end, we are comparing two fantastic races - can't go wrong with either. The recently released running statistics quoted on a podcast I was listening to showed that both races were amongst the top 10 popular worldwide.
As it is an Up run (Durban to Pietermaritzburg), the hotel logistics are a bit easier. Almost any hotel in the downtown or beach area is within walking distance of the start. The "official" race hotel is the Hilton, but others have stayed at City Lodge, Blue Waters etc.
At the expo you can buy a bus ticket that will get you back to Durban after the race if you dont have your own transport.
My number #1 piece of advice - make sure you get there early enough (2-4 days) before the race to ensure you get plenty of rest.
Thanks all. I plan on racing the October marathon (aiming for 3:40-3:45 if the altitude doesn't get me), then taking NY (2 weeks later) very easy as a friend wants to break 5 hours and I have promised to ensure that happens, and the Tokyo is in Feb and I plan on making that a fun tour.
But I feel I am shortchanging them as I think more about Comrades, when really each event should be it's own and not merely Comrades training.