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Articles tagged #Comrades
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Sara Hall Among Pros Who Will Take Shot at Treadmill World Records on June 6 in Chaski Challenge

Inspired by the success of last month’s Quarantine Backyard Ultra, a handful of elite runners will attempt to break treadmill world records across five distances next week. Sara Hall, the fastest American female marathoner of 2019, is the headliner, and will be shooting for the women’s treadmill half marathon record of 1:20:43 (Hall’s pb is 1:08:58).

The event, which will be held on Saturday, June 6, and is known as the Chaski Challenge, is the brainchild of Tyler Andrews, a 2:15 marathoner who ran a world best of 2:46:06 for 50,000 meters on the track in 2018 (LRC recorded a podcast with him shortly before that race). Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Andrews had planned to spend the spring training with Jim Walmsley in Flagstaff as the two men prepared to race the famed Comrades Marathon in South Africa. Instead, Andrews is now based at his parents’ house in Concord, Mass., but is still training hard and wanted to create an opportunity to allow himself and others to demonstrate their fitness.

“A lot of people are really fit out there right now and have nothing to do with it,” Andrews says. “So we wanted to do that. And then just create a really compelling, fun, conversation-provoking event that people can watch on a Saturday night and have fun with.”

Similar to the Quarantine Backyard Ultra, the Chaski Challenge will feature a free live online broadcast and tracking of the record attempts around the country with cameras aimed at each elite runner’s treadmill. 2016 Olympian Marielle Hall and ultrarunner Kris Brown (13th at 2019 Western States 100) will serve as commentators.

“Chaski Endurance Collective, which is my coaching collective, we have a bunch of different athletes from different areas on staff and we were kind of just bouncing around ideas and talking about what could we do that’s kind of building off what Quarantine Backyard Ultra did really well, because that event just absolutely crushed it,” Andrews says.

Andrews also felt the inclusive nature of the Quarantine Backyard Ultra — anyone could sign up and compete — was one of the keys to its success, and to that end, the Chaski Challenge will feature free-to-enter 5k and 50k races, which anyone can sign up for and complete during a 24-hour window beginning on June 5 at 4 p.m. ET (there is an optional donation to Feeding America’s COVID-19 relief efforts).

At 6 p.m. ET on June 6, the broadcast will begin with the men’s 50k, which features Andrews, 2014 world 100k champ Max King, and Quarantine Backyard Ultra champion Mike Wardian (2:54 50k pb). Midway through that race, the men’s half marathon (featuring 61:51 man John Raneri) and the women’s half marathon (featuring Hall and 2:27 marathoner Renee Metivier) will begin. Mario Mendoza will also be attempting to break the 50-mile record; that attempt will begin prior to the broadcast. The current treadmill world records for each event are as follows (the men will also try to break the marathon record en route to 50k):

Women’s half marathon: 1:20:43, Jenna Wrieden, USA, 2014

Men’s half marathon: 1:03:37, Tyler Andrews, USA, 2015

Men’s marathon: 2:20:45, Paul Zwama, Netherlands, 2018

Men’s 50k: 2:56:35, Matthias Kyburz, Switzerland, 2020

Men’s 50-mile: 4:57:45, Jacob Puzey, USA, 2016

Andrews chose those events because he believes each record is ripe for the taking. The 50k record has been broken three times already this year; both Wardian and Mendoza are former holders of the record.

“We are 100% sure that we are going to break these records in this race,” says Andrews. “There’s zero question. The women’s half marathon mark is 1:20. I’m pretty sure that women out there have done that in training before and not recorded it. We’re not just looking to break these; we want to make these legitimate. We want to have actual, really good athletes just totally destroy them and set them way out of reach.”

Andrews feels confident he is just as fit as when he ran 2:46 for 50,000 meters in 2018; on Sunday, he ran a workout of 7 x 5k (16:19, 16:20, 16:20, 16:16, 16:11, 16:07, 15:51) with 1k recovery for a total of 41k on the treadmill in 2:16. He will be making the attempt in a room that doubles as his office and a storage room for his dad’s clothes.

“There’s a TV inside the cabinet [in front of the treadmill],” Andrews says. “I don’t watch television when I’m running, but I actually kind of like it because it’s almost a black mirror, so I can see my upper running form, so I can see if I’m starting to list to one side or slouch a little bit.”

Hall bouncing back from Olympic Trials disappointment

Andrews has run into one issue with the Chaski Challenge: Hall will not be able to run her portion of the event live. Instead, she will record her attempt this week, and it will be played at the same time as the other attempts on the broadcast next week. Still, she is excited to give it a go.

“It’s a tough time for all sports, but especially with ours including the masses, people need things to stay motivated or to get a benchmark of fitness,” Hall says. “I wanted to support that and it will be nice to get a benchmark of fitness for myself in the process and hopefully provide some entertainment to people.”

Hall’s most recent race was the US Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta on February 29, where she dropped out after 22 miles. Hall says her recovery has been “a process.”

“I wanted that team more than any other race of my career, so I think I’m still somewhat getting over the disappointment and I think I’ll always look back on it with frustration,” Hall says.

After falling short in the Marathon Trials, Hall’s initial plan was to give the track trials a go in either the 5,000 or 10,000; even once they were postponed, her recent training has focused on those distances. She eventually plans to transition into a buildup for a fall 2020 marathon (if they happen) before returning to the track for the 2021 Olympic Trials.

For a woman who has run 1:08 for a half, 1:20 should be a piece of cake — theoretically. But Hall is not peaking for the Chaski Challenge. And since she rarely runs on treadmills, she doesn’t want to risk injury by giving a full race effort. In addition, she’ll likely be running at almost 7,000 feet in Flagstaff — which Hall says usually knocks 15 seconds per mile off her tempo pace. Still, record pace is just 6:10 per mile, which is very attainable for Hall, even with those caveats.

Hall won’t be able to make her attempt from the comfort of home as her treadmill is currently broken. Her plan is to head to a gym (which are now open in Arizona) and take her shot there. Unlike most half marathon record attempts, however, Hall will be able to have her four daughters cheer her on every step of the way — if they choose to.

“I’ll create a playlist to give me some entertainment and the girls will probably cheer me on, but will likely get bored after a few minutes and wander off,” Hall says.

(06/06/2020) ⚡AMP
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After cancelling the South African ultra, Comrades Marathon virtual event signups surpass 13,000 runners

One of the world’s most famous and coveted ultramarathons, the Comrades Marathon in South Africa, was cancelled due to COVID-19 in May. The race was set for June 14, and although no one will be physically running the course between the South African cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban on that day, organizers have scheduled a virtual event called Race the Comrades Legends for the same date.

The event is open to anyone worldwide, and with just over a week to go before race day, over 13,000 people have registered to run.

In a normal year, the Comrades Marathon is 87K or 90K (the course changes directions each year, hence the two distances). Runners looking to participate in the virtual event will have the option to complete a 90K run in classic Comrades style, but there are also 5K, 10K, 21K and 45K options for anyone who isn’t looking to tackle an ultramarathon.

The event is free to anyone who was already registered for the 2020 Comrades Marathon, and it’s just $25 for everyone else. In addition to the race fee, runners have the option of donating to six local South African charities.

All participants will have to record their runs and upload them to the Comrades site, where results will be compiled and ranked. Runners can upload their runs using whatever tracking apps or GPS programs they prefer.

After all the results are in, runners will be able to see where they sit among the rest of the participants, and according to the virtual race press release, they will also be able to see how they rank against Comrades Marathon legends from past events.

All finishers will receive a virtual medal and finishing certificate immediately after completing their race, and in the weeks after the event, they will receive a physical medal as well.

(06/05/2020) ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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Sara Hall, will be shooting for the women’s treadmill half marathon record on June 6 in Chaski Challenge

Inspired by the success of last month’s Quarantine Backyard Ultra, a handful of elite runners will attempt to break treadmill world records across five distances next week. Sara Hall, the fastest American female marathoner of 2019, is the headliner, and will be shooting for the women’s treadmill half marathon record of 1:20:43 (Hall’s pb is 1:08:58).

The event, which will be held on Saturday, June 6, and is known as the Chaski Challenge, is the brainchild of Tyler Andrews, a 2:15 marathoner who ran a world best of 2:46:06 for 50,000 meters on the track in 2018 (LRC recorded a podcast with him shortly before that race).

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Andrews had planned to spend the spring training with Jim Walmsley in Flagstaff as the two men prepared to race the famed Comrades Marathon in South Africa. Instead, Andrews is now based at his parents’ house in Concord, Mass., but is still training hard and wanted to create an opportunity to allow himself and others to demonstrate their fitness.

“A lot of people are really fit out there right now and have nothing to do with it,” Andrews says. “So we wanted to do that. And then just create a really compelling, fun, conversation-provoking event that people can watch on a Saturday night and have fun with.”

Similar to the Quarantine Backyard Ultra, the Chaski Challenge will feature a free live online broadcast and tracking of the record attempts around the country with cameras aimed at each elite runner’s treadmill. 2016 Olympian Marielle Hall and ultrarunner Kris Brown (13th at 2019 Western States 100) will serve as commentators.

“Chaski Endurance Collective, which is my coaching collective, we have a bunch of different athletes from different areas on staff and we were kind of just bouncing around ideas and talking about what could we do that’s kind of building off what Quarantine Backyard Ultra did really well, because that event just absolutely crushed it,” Andrews says.

Andrews also felt the inclusive nature of the Quarantine Backyard Ultra — anyone could sign up and compete — was one of the keys to its success, and to that end, the Chaski Challenge will feature free-to-enter 5k and 50k races, which anyone can sign up for and complete during a 24-hour window beginning on June 5 at 4 p.m. ET (there is an optional donation to Feeding America’s COVID-19 relief efforts).

At 6 p.m. ET on June 6, the broadcast will begin with the men’s 50k, which features Andrews, 2014 world 100k champ Max King, and Quarantine Backyard Ultra champion Mike Wardian (2:54 50k pb). Midway through that race, the men’s half marathon (featuring 61:51 man John Raneri) and the women’s half marathon (featuring Hall and 2:27 marathoner Renee Metivier) will begin. Mario Mendoza will also be attempting to break the 50-mile record; that attempt will begin prior to the broadcast.

(05/29/2020) ⚡AMP
by Jonathan Gault
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The Comrades Marathon will be offering a virtual alternative

All is not lost for disappointed long distance runners who qualified for the recent cancelled Comrades Marathon.

The Comrades Marathon Association has announced the launch of a virtual event, ‘Race the Comrades Legends’, which will see all finishers receiving a medal.

The world’s greatest ultra marathon will now also stage the world’s biggest virtual event, with athletes from around the globe invited to participate on Sunday, 14 June.

Entry will be free for South African runners who have already entered the 2020 Comrades.

The website will include an virtual online functionality through which runners can compete, ‘run with’ and compare outcomes against Comrades greats such as Bruce Fordyce, Frith van der Merwe, Samuel Tshabalala and many others.

All that runners need to do is to visit the Comrades website, register for ‘Race The Comrades Legends’ and select their distance (5km, 10km, 21km, 45km or 90km).

The cost is R150 for South African runners and $25 for foreign athletes who have not already paid for and qualified for the 2020 Comrades.

Once registration is complete, runners will receive all the necessary race information and rules prior to the race date.

Athletes will then run their respective races, capture their times using a normal timing device and upload it. Their results will be calculated and updated automatically.

They will thereafter receive personalised race feedback by email.

The programme will include full integration of all popular fitness apps, including Strava and Endomondo for direct upload, as well as Garmin, Polar and Suunto.

Runners who do not have any of these devices or apps can upload a GPX, TCX or FIT file format from other devices and apps, or they can manually enter their time based on any watch.

Every entrant will receive a digital race number prior to the race, a virtual medal and certificate immediately after the race and personalised results comparisons.

All finishers will receive a real medal, which will be distributed as soon as possible, as opposed to the majority of virtual races which generally only award virtual medals.

It works pretty much the same way as any other type of running, the difference being that the runner can run at any location, especially in the comfort of your own home, on a treadmill, outside in the garden, or neighbourhood and all at one’s own pace.

(05/21/2020) ⚡AMP
by Richard Springorum
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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American ultra runner Zach Bitter breaks 100-mile treadmill world record clockin 12:09:15

American ultra runner Zach Bitter spent all day Saturday on the treadmill, starting at 6:30 a.m. PST and running until just after 6:30 p.m.

He ran for 100 miles (160.9K) and set the new treadmill world record for the distance with a time of 12:09:15. He bettered Canadian Dave Proctor‘s previous record (set at last year’s Calgary Marathon expo) of 12:32:26 by over 20 minutes. Bitter averaged an incredible 4:32 per kilometer over 12 hours and 100 miles of running.

Bitter’s average pace of 4:32 per kilometer would have given him a 3:11 marathon, which is a good time on its own, but he ran almost four marathons in a row on Saturday. The run was streamed live on YouTube, and different ultra runners and endurance athletes Zoomed in to chat as Bitter chipped away at his 100-mile trek.

Some of those big names included 2019 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc winner Courtney Dauwalter, Aravaipa Running’s Jamil Coury, Quarantine Backyard Ultra champion Mike Wardian and Proctor himself, who knows exactly what it takes to break the 100-mile treadmill record.

Bitter is already the world record-holder in the 100-mile run, which he set last August at an indoor track in Wisconsin in a time of 11:19:13. He is also the owner of the 100-mile trail record from the 2018 Tunnel Hill trail race in Illinois, where he ran 12:08:36.

Now, he has  officially added the treadmill record to his resume. With these three records to his name, it’s fair to say that Bitter is in the conversation for greatest 100-mile runner of all time, if not the outright winner of that title.

Bitter has been running ultra marathons for a decade now, and he’s got plenty of big race wins and results to his name.

He was 11th at the 2018 Western States 100, he took 32nd place at the 2016 Comrades Marathon and sixth at the International Association of Ultra runners 100K world championships in 2014. In 2019, he won three races, including the San Diego 100-miler in California.

(05/18/2020) ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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After announcing the event would be postponed last month, organizers have now cancelled the Comrades Marathon altogether

Last month, Comrades Marathon race organizers announced that the event would be postponed, although no new dates were ever set. This morning, the Comrades Marathon Association and Athletics South Africa officially cancelled the event, once again extending the list of COVID-19 race casualties.

The 2020 event would have been the 95th running of the ultramarathon, but that milestone will have to wait until at least 2021.

The Comrades Marathon route switches direction every year, but it’s always run between the two same cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban. There are “up” years (Durban to Pietermaritzburg), which are 87K with about 2,000 metres of elevation gain, and “down” years (Pietermaritzburg to Durban), which are 90K. This year would have been a down year, but runners will have to wait to make the trek until next June.

Comrades is the biggest race in South Africa, and in 2020 they had a cap of 27,500 racers. The race is a big source of pride for South Africans, and it’s been won by South African runners on many occasions, including the last eight-straight years.

This year’s race would have been the 95th running of the Comrades Marathon, but 2021 will actually be the 100th anniversary of the event (it wasn’t run for five years during World War II). It’s a shame that the event had to be cancelled this year, but it will make next year’s run more meaningful with the race celebrating 100 years of existence and its 95th running.

The race was first run in 1921 by Vic Clapham, who fought in World War I. Upon returning home to South Africa, he ran between Pietermaritzburg and Durban as a tribute for his fellow soldiers (or comrades) who didn’t make it home, officially starting the Comrades Marathon.

(05/15/2020) ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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Two Oceans pain for champ Mthembu

Two Oceans Marathon defending down-run champion, Bongmusa Mthembu, was keen to entrench his dominance in this year’s edition of the competition but the coronavirus stifled his advancement.

The Bulwer-born athlete was left dejected by the cancellation of the Two Oceans Marathon.

The marathon was set to take place last week where scores of local and international runners from were to come together with their sights set on supremacy in the Cape Town annual road running extravaganza but it wasn’t to be. Mthembu reigned supreme last year and was looking forward to dazzling once again.

“I was looking forward to the Two Oceans Marathon. I was disappointed when I heard that it had been cancelled. I worked very hard for that competition,” said the elite member of the Arthur Ford Running Club.

“I knew that many athletes were coming for me and I needed to do something special to step up. I even took a break from social media to focus on preparations for defending my crown. If I had my way, the race would have been postponed instead of cancelled. I know I speak for many runners who felt that the race should have been scheduled for another time this year.”

Mthembu is also the current holder of the Comrades Marathon down-run title after winning the ultra-marathon between Pietermaritzburg and Durban in 2018. He came close to winning the Comrades up-run last year but was pipped by Edward Mothibi. The Covid-19 outbreak has forced the organizers of this year’s Comrades to postpone the race.

“We respect the decision taken by South African government (placing the country on lockdown and suspending community gatherings). This is a natural disaster. The rest of the world is suffering from the same virus. Our preparations (for Comrades Marathon) have been distracted, we can’t hide that but we need to accept it. If we have to start afresh, let it be. The lives of South Africans are more important than the sport. This will pass and we will come back and compete again,” he added.

The decision about this year’s Comrades Marathon is yet to be taken. The SA biggest marathon was scheduled to take place on June 14. Mthembu will be eyeing his fourth title this year if the 2020 race happens. He has made the down-run his own but feels strongly that a race like the Two Oceans is a great precursor to the dash between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

“The focus was purely on the Two Oceans and then thereafter I was going switch my mind towards the Comrades Marathon. I’m also a defending champion for the down-run. We will wait and see what the future holds. But as I said, the most important for now is to comply with the rules and regulations of the country. We can’t be worried about Comrades while the rest of the world is trying to fight this virus. Let us fight the virus first and then we can focus on running races,” Mthembu explained.

The 36-year-old distance specialist was the winner of the world famous race in 2014, 2017 and 2018. He made his Comrades debut back in 2006.

“I always want to be consistent, my brother. That’s what always pushes me to do well.

(04/22/2020) ⚡AMP
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Two Oceans Marathon

Two Oceans Marathon

2020 race cancelled. Cape Town’s most prestigious race, the 56km Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, takes athletes on a spectacular course around the Cape Peninsula. It is often voted the most breathtaking course in the world. The event is run under the auspices of the IAAF, Athletics South Africa (ASA) and Western Province Athletics (WPA). The Ultra Marathon celebrated...

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The Comrades Marathon 2020 has been officially postponed

The 2020 Comrades Marathon has been postponed indefinitely. The postponement of the most famous and historic ultramarathon in South Africa was announced on Friday morning by Athletics South Africa.

The Comrades Marathon route travels between two cities, Pietermaritzburg and Durban. The direction changes, however, between “up” and “down” years. “Up” years see racers run 87K with about 2,000 meters of elevation gain. “Down” years are a bit further, hitting 90K, but the run is a net downhill.

It was set to be a down year in 2020, so the race was scheduled to start in Pietermaritzburg and head to Durban, on South Africa’s east coast. The cut-off for the Comrades Marathon is 12 hours.

Both Jim Walmsley and Camille Herron, American ultra running legends, were set to compete at the 2020 event was originally scheduled for Sunday June 14.

The news follows the April 9 announcement that South Africa would be extending its lockdown by another 14 days, before re-evaluating the country’s public health needs. 

Aleck Skhosana, president of Athletics South Africa, told Sport24, “The Comrades Marathon is therefore postponed from 14 June to a suitable date that will be determined between ASA, KZN Athletics and the Comrades Marathon Association as soon as conditions around the management of the virus allow us to under the guidance of the Government.”

(04/17/2020) ⚡AMP
by Madeleine Kelly
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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With South Africa entering its last week of official lockdown, Comrades Marathon unlikely to take place on June 14

With South Africa entering its last week of official lockdown, the 2020 Comrades Marathon Association has admitted that the iconic race is ‘unlikely to go ahead’ on 14 June. But organisers have not yet officially communicated their decision on the race’s future due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It takes an extraordinary amount of resilience to run the Comrades Marathon, the 90km race between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. It takes an equal amount of motivation and organisation to host the race, with thousands of moving parts all needing to come together on one day to make the experience for the approximately 27,500 runners a bucket list dream-come-true. 

Of course, it also takes money and support to make it happen, which means sponsors, and broadcast rights. A cancelled marathon would result in a massive loss of revenue, which is why it is no surprise that the race has yet to be called off, or postponed because of Covid-19. 

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) appears to be taking every available minute to make a call. It is almost certainly a vain undertaking because the Covid-19 virus is going nowhere quickly – all the data leads to that conclusion. 

Despite the national lockdown that started on 27 March 2020, the CMA maintained its position that the race was still scheduled for 14 June 2020 even though participants would not easily be able to continue training under the strict State of National Disaster conditions. CMA quickly changed that stance after a backlash on social media. 

“We are living through unprecedented, unpredictable and unimaginably challenging times,” CMA chairperson Cheryl Winn wrote to participants recently. 

“On behalf of the Comrades Marathon Association, I thank you for your patience and apologise for the extent to which uncertainty as to the status of the 2020 Comrades Marathon may have added to your burden of anxiety, over matters far graver than any road race, over the past month. A reminder that we have promised to put an end to the uncertainty by 17 April. 

“Considering the ramifications of the 21-day national lockdown, and as Covid-19 numbers in South Africa and around the world continue to escalate, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that the 2020 Comrades Marathon will be staged on 14 June. 

“CMA’s main considerations at this stage are to encourage runners to abide by and respect all aspects and directives of Government in relation to the National Lockdown, in particular to stay at home and do not run outside of one’s own property, as well as regard for the eventual safety, welfare and potential un-preparedness of runners after having experienced a three-week interruption in training, during the critical build-up to such a gruelling endurance race. 

“With regard to possible postponement, which would require Athletics South Africa (ASA) sanction, the CMA Board is of the view that the race cannot be staged later than 4 October 2020 owing to climatic conditions.  Failing which the 2020 Comrades Marathon will have to be cancelled for the first and only time since World War 2 in the 99 year history of the race. 

We trust that runners will appreciate that within an extremely congested athletics calendar that is largely constructed around the Comrades Marathon, it is no easy task to identify an alternative date.

(04/11/2020) ⚡AMP
by Craig Ray
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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After over 50 hours ultrarunner Mike Wardian runs 63 laps for 422K to win the virtual race Quarantine Backyard Ultra

The Quarantine Backyard Ultra started Saturday morning, and over 2,400 runners from more than 50 countries joined the virtual race. Runners ran 6.706K every hour for as long as they could, and over 60 hours later, only two runners remained: American Mike Wardian and Radek Brunner of the Czech Republic. Brunner missed the start of the 63rd lap and was therefore disqualified, making Wardian the winner after 422K.

With every passing lap of the Quarantine Backyard Ultra, more and more of the world’s best ultrarunners dropped out and registered DNFs. Last year at the Big’s Backyard Ultra, Maggie Guterl ran 60 laps for 402K, but a nagging back injury forced her to pull out of the race this weekend after just nine laps.

After 15 laps and 100K, Jamil Coury called it a day. Three laps later, Canadian Cal Neff dropped out. At the 100-mile mark, Courtney Dauwalter threw in the towel, along with 72-year-old Gene Dykes. Later on, after 31 laps, Canadian Dave Proctor (who helped bring the event into fruition), had to end his race due to back pain.

“It was a bit of a tough day for sure,” Coury said. “I was hoping to go as long as I could— 24 or 30 hours—but you never know with these things.” Although he didn’t get as far as he would’ve liked, Coury cut himself some slack, seeing as he’d run a marathon around a 27-metre course just four days earlier. In fact, just making it in time to race at all was an accomplishment for Coury, who slept at his office the night before and woke up only minutes before the event began.

“I was working late on Friday night, and i fell asleep at my office,” he said. “I fortunately had a pair of shoes and socks in my truck. I threw it on, started my livestream and just ran out the door.” Coury ran the first seven hours around his office’s neighbourhood, returning to finish work between laps. He eventually drove home (he made it to his treadmill with three minutes to spare before the start of the next lap) and made it to 100K before bowing out.

Dauwalter said she got to the 100-mile mark and decided that was “a solid day.”

“When I signed up I didn’t have major plans,” she said. “I wanted to make it at through the night, because that’s always special and fun to see the sunrise.” She did make it through the night, got her sunrise and retired from the race soon after.

“I think this is a really fun format,” she said. “It’s great with the camaraderie. You come back from a lap and go on the Zoom chat with the other runners.” Proctor also noted how fun it was to chat on the Zoom and YouTube feeds.

“It’s so unique,” he said. “When all the runners go off and do their thing, I get extraordinarily busy talking to everybody on YouTube.” He said that he spent around half of his time on the treadmill answering questions viewers had posted on the YouTube live video.

“I found that it was really quite rewarding. It gets your mind off of what you’re doing and it gives you something [else] to do.” While they were both still in the race, Proctor and Coury teamed up and answered questions together, adding some fun banter to the mix as well.

The two finalists had very different setups for the final laps. Brunner ran solo in his house on a treadmill while Wardian took to the streets with a support crew and several cyclists riding alongside him as he ran. The winner of multiple U.S. national titles at ultra distances, Wardian is well known in the running community. He has run the Western States 100 and the Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc multiple times, and he finished 11th at the 2011 Comrades Marathon and third at the 2010 Marathon des Sables.

Brunner is more of an unknown, at least in the North American ultra community, but like Wardian, he has an impressive running resume. He has represented the Czech Republic on multiple occasions, competing at the 24-hour, 100K and trail world championships. At the 2017 24-hour worlds in Ireland, Brunner came 14th. He has also run to the podium four years in a row in the Spartathlon, a 246-kilometre ultramarathon in Greece. Although he didn’t win, after this run, Brunner’s name has become much more well known in the ultrarunning community.

(04/07/2020) ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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Until further notice, The Comrades Marathon will go ahead as planned

The Comrades Marathon Association’s (CMA) Board convened an urgent meeting on Monday evening in light of the outbreak of the coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, and the subsequent postponement or cancellation of sporting events and mass gatherings in the country.

Athletics South Africa (ASA), under the auspices of which the Comrades Marathon is held, has aligned itself with the national state of disaster as pronounced by President Cyril Ramaphosa and have taken a decision to postpone with immediate effect all athletics events in the country at all levels for 30 days.

This comes as the President specified strict measures to combat the virus which has been described as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The decision includes the postponement of all school athletics including the ASA National Primary Schools T&F Championships which was scheduled for Pietermaritzburg this week; the postponement of all club and provincial activities, including Fun Runs, Park Runs, Road-Running, Cross Country, Trail Running and Track & Field events; as well as the postponement of all ASA championships.

This comes as the President specified strict measures to combat the virus which has been described as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The decision includes the postponement of all school athletics including the ASA National Primary Schools T&F Championships which was scheduled for Pietermaritzburg this week; the postponement of all club and provincial activities, including Fun Runs, Park Runs, Road-Running, Cross Country, Trail Running and Track & Field events; as well as the postponement of all ASA championships.

Under the ongoing guidance of the government on the virus, as well as ASA and KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA), the CMA Board will review the situation by 17 April and advise Comrades athletes and stakeholders on the way forward, depending on the status of the virus in the country at the time.

CMA chairperson, Cheryl Winn said, “With nearly three months to go to #Comrades2020, the CMA Board has decided that it is premature to postpone this year’s Comrades Marathon. We will however continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis and will make a decision by 17 April depending upon how the situation evolves on whether to postpone #Comrades2020 to a date later in the year.”

Winn added: "We will make announcements and issue updates on an ongoing basis. As the CMA Board, we have to consider the best interest and well-being of our athletes, supporters, spectators, volunteers and the public.

With 282 successful substitution applications having been processed since opening of the 2020 substitution period, we urge all Comrades runners to continue with their training preparations for the 95th edition of the Ultimate Human Race.”

(03/17/2020) ⚡AMP
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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Erina Muzhingi wife of three-time Comrades Marathon winner, Zimbabwe's Stephen Muzhing dies

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has expressed its sadness at the news of the death of Erina Muzhingi, wife of three-time Comrades Marathon winner, Zimbabwe's Stephen Muzhingi.

CMA chairperson, Cheryl Winn said, “We are deeply saddened to hear of the untimely passing of Mrs Muzhingi. She was a regular sight at Comrades, supporting Stephen and to a large extent, being the wind beneath his wings.”

Winn added, “Stephen’s Comrades Marathon track record is outstanding, with a total of 9 gold and 3 silver medals, including a rare hat-trick of three consecutive Comrades wins accomplished in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

However, the defining feature was that Erina was by Stephen’s side for just about all of his epic achievements. I clearly remember when Stephen had broken through the Comrades finish tape in 2010; he ran straight into the arms of his wife, who was waiting for him. We wish the family strength and solace during this difficult time.”

Formula One Eduworks Running Club Manager, Cliff Chetty said, “It has been a shock to the team, myself and many people around South Africa to hear of the passing away of Stephen’s wife, Erina Muzhingi, after a long illness.” 

Chetty added, “This news has really dampened our spirits as Stephen was in full training for the 2020 Comrades and was looking forward to race day. We have been in touch with him. He has three children and did not ever expect to lose his beloved wife so soon. Erina Muzhingi was part of the Formula One team and was proud to be at the finish each year as Stephen crossed the finish line. Stephen will have the full support from us going forward and will run this race in memory of his Wife. May she rest in peace as she is now in God's hands.”

(02/25/2020) ⚡AMP
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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Kenyan world record-holder Brigid Kosgei goal is to win the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon

World record-holder Brigid Kosgei has promised to go all out and win next month’s Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon.

Termed ‘the world’s fastest half marathon’, the 14th edition of the annual race will be held of February 21 with Kosgei expected to set the field alight alongside a line-up of world-class elite runners.

“I am really excited to come back to the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon after two years. My only experience in that race was in 2018 when I came in seventh (with a time of 66:49),” Kosgei said.

“I know that this year the line-up is one of the best ever for a half marathon and I really hope to run fast.”

Having smashed Paula Radcliffe’s long-standing marathon world record by 81 seconds last year in Chicago with a time of 2:14:04, the Kenyan star enjoyed an incredible 2019 where she won every single race she competed in, including the London Marathon and Great North Run where she set impressive times of 2:18:20 and 64:28 respectively. The Kenyan, who will celebrate her 26th birthday the previous day of the race, is expected to kick-start her preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Kosgei can expect stiff competition from a host of top runners, including recent winner of the Comrades Marathon, Gerda Steyn of South Africa when the 21.1km race is run on Ras Al Khaimah’s Marjan Island. Steyn kicked off her running journey in the UAE with the Desert Road Runners Club and distinguished herself by becoming the first woman to complete the Comrades ultra-marathon in under six hours.

Her personal best of 2:27:48 for the full marathon in New York last year earned her a qualifying spot at the Tokyo Olympics.

(01/30/2020) ⚡AMP
by Alaric Gomes
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Rak Half Marathon

Rak Half Marathon

The Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon is the 'world's fastest half marathon' because if you take the top 10 fastest times recorded in RAK for men (and the same for women) and find the average (for each) and then do the same with the top ten fastest recorded times across all races (you can reference the IAAF for this), the...

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Nontuthuko Mgabhi from Richards Bay aims to be the first woman from Africa to run the World Marathon Challenge

A Richards Bay woman is aiming to become the first woman in Africa to run the World Marathon Challenge - seven marathons on seven continents in seven days - in February.

On Suday, a 15km and 5km fun run and walk was held in Bulwer to raise awareness about her attempt and to help raise funds for it.

Nontuthuko Mgabhi, 32, will use the challenge to raise R3.5million for Khipinkunzi Primary School in Mtubatuba.

“I wanted to do something special for my birthday and was asked to give a motivational speech at the primary school last year, which has 657 pupils from Grade R to Grade 7. When I arrived at the school, I saw the poor state it was in and wanted to make a difference,” Mgabhi explained.

She is aiming to raise R3.5million to build five classrooms, two administration offices and to revamp the school.

Participating in the World Marathon Challenge means she would have to cover 295km and spend about 68 hours flying. The first marathon is in Antarctica on February 6, the second will be Cape Town on February 7, February 8 is in Perth, February 9 in Dubai, February 10 in Madrid, February 11 in Fortaleza in South America, and finishing in Miami on February 12.

Mgabhi said she started running in 2013, when a friend asked her to participate in the East Coast Radio Big Walk with her.

Ten months later, she participated in the Comrades Marathon and has since completed more than 50 marathons, including four Comrades and 15 ultra marathons.

(01/28/2020) ⚡AMP
by Kwazulu-Natal
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World Marathon Challenge

World Marathon Challenge

The World Marathon Challenge ® is a logistical and physical challenge to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Competitors must run the standard 42.2 km marathon distance in Antarctica, Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe, South America and North America within 168 hours, or seven days. The clock starts when the first marathon begins in Antarctica. ...

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The Comrades Marathon has been awarded Gold Label status by the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU)

The IAU introduced its own labeling system for qualifying events to ensure that the race route is measured to conform to World Athletics regulations as well as enjoying recognition by its own national athletics federation, being Athletics South Africa.

This effectively means that only athletic performances in IAU labeled races are officially recognized.

This is not only important for possible "Best Performances" but also for the calculations of any travel grants distributed at major IAU competitions.

The IAU Labels are certifications granted by the international body to ultradistance races and are categorized according to IAU Gold Label, IAU Silver Label and IAU Bronze Label.

The labels are conferred on IAU ultramarathon races in various categories. In order to qualify for the Gold Label status, the Comrades Marathon had to meet the following criteria:

Race history and performance: • Gold - the race must have existed for 3 years (3 editions) at least and if not, it must have had an IAU silver label for the previous year.

Elite performances: • Gold and Silver - at least 5 athletes (mixed men and women) performances at international (gold) or national level (silver) in one of the three previous years.

Course Measurement: • Gold - the route must be measured by an Official "A" or "B" WA/AIMS measurer following the WA rules (with the Jones Counter). • Gold and Silver - a technical delegate must be appointed prior to the race, decided between LOC, IAU General Secretary and Area Representative. 

Anti-doping Control: • Gold - Anti-doping control has to respect the WA guidelines and the numbers of controls will be discussed with the IAU. Costs are met by the race organization or the national federation.

"We are grateful to the IAU for conferring the impressive Gold Label status on the Comrades Marathon. This is indeed an honor and a privilege for the CMA; as well as being a massive show of confidence in the thousands of Comrades members, volunteers and stakeholders who execute a remarkable event year in and year out," said CMA chairperson, Cheryl Winn.

(11/28/2019) ⚡AMP
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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Canadian Sasha Gollish is set to race the TCS New York City Marathon this fall

Sasha Gollish will join defending champion Mary Keitany, 2018 Boston Marathon champion Des Linden, 2019 Boston champion Worknesh Degefa, and half-marathon world record-holder Joyciline Jepkosgei on the start line on Staten Island in November. 

Sinead Diver of Australia, 2019 Comrades Marathon champion Gerda Steyn of South Africa and Americans Sara Hall, Allie Kieffer, Lindsey Scherf and Kellyn Taylor round out the exceptionally deep field of women athletes racing New York this year.

On the men’s side, notable names include defending champion Lelisa Desisa, 2017 champion Geoffrey Kamworor, Somali-American Abdi Abdirahman, Ethiopians Shura Kitata and Tamirat Tola and American Jared Ward, who finished eighth at this year’s Boston Marathon.

Gollish had a long and successful career in track and cross-country, winning bronze in the 1,500m at the 2015 Pan Am Games before attempting her debut marathon attempt at Berlin last year. 

She was forced to drop out just after the 30K mark with severe cramping, but had a very successful comeback at Houston in January, finishing in 2:32 just behind fellow Canadian Malindi Elmore, who was also taking her first stab at the marathon distance.

Gollish, it should be pointed out, has the world championship standard in the marathon (2:37:00), and so far only Lyndsay Tessier has been named to Team Canada. Athletics Canada will announce the full team on August 26.

(08/13/2019) ⚡AMP
by Anne Francis
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TCS  New York City Marathon

TCS New York City Marathon

The first New York City Marathon, organized in 1970 by Fred Lebow and Vince Chiappetta, was held entirely in Central Park. Of 127 entrants, only 55 men finished; the sole female entrant dropped out due to illness. Winners were given inexpensive wristwatches and recycled baseball and bowling trophies. The entry fee was $1 and the total event budget...

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Strong men´s field runners is expected for Cape Town Marathon

While Stephen Mokoka won last year’s Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in record time, the men’s top 10 was once again dominated by east Africans.

Apart from Mokoka, two other South Africans - Benedict Moeng (sixth) and Desmond Mokgobu (10th) - made the top 10.

With the race organisers expecting more international elite athletes for this year’s race taking place on September 15, it would appear the challenge for South Africans to dominate will be all the more tougher.

The organisers are hosting a ‘50 Days To Go’ Countdown event in the Mother City next Wednesday where they are set to announce "the finest elite marathon field ever assembled on African soil".

Expectations are that Mokoka will be back to defend the title he won in fantastic style. Mokoka, participating in a local event for the first time in years, lived up to his star billing when he got home in a fast time of 2:08:31.

But Mokgobu is going to miss this one out as he will be racing the Doha Marathon around that time while Moeng is likely to participate. Mokgobu’s teammate Pharson Magagane, who finished 21st last year will be back in the race.

An interesting participant this year will be Impala’s TK Moshwetsi who came to the fore during the Comrades Marathon. New to the scene, Moshwetsi surprised most when he held the lead in the ultra two and a half hours into the race and looked to be doing well and seemed strong only to stop after the halfway mark at Drummond.

According to his coach Dave Adams, Moshwetsi was never at Comrades to race or even complete it but was rather using it as preparation for the Cape Town Marathon.

No doubt this year’s race will be a hotly-contested affair what with the organisers also looking to impress the IAAF in their application to have the race upgraded from Gold Label Status to Platinum.

(07/18/2019) ⚡AMP
by Matshelane Mamabolo
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Cape Town Marathon

Cape Town Marathon

The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon is a City Marathon held in Cape Town, South Africa, which is sponsored by Sanlam, the City of Cape Town and Vital Health Foods. The marathon is held on a fast and flat course, starting and finishing in Green Point, near the Cape Town Stadium. Prior to existing in its current format, the Cape Town...

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Cecilia Flori often smiles through pain, but now she’s hoping an injury doesn’t keep her from competing at the 2019 Western States 100-mile race

The gap between elites and amateurs can feel wide indeed, but one area of common ground is an injury that threatens the start line of an important race. That’s the relatable place elite ultrarunner Cecilia Flori finds herself as she struggles with a foot injury a few weeks out from the Western States Endurance Run, the 100-mile race on June 29, from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California.

Expected to be a favorite in this year’s event, Flori arrived in California more than a month before the race, hoping to train on the course. The 38-year-old Italian physicist, who currently calls New Zealand home, earned bib F5 and says she was feeling as fit as ever when her foot began to hurt.

“I’ve been working on my speed by running marathons this year,” she said. “I think the Western course suits my strengths and I was more than ready for it.”

Relatively new to the ultra scene—and running in general—Flori made a big entrance to the sport, nabbing a podium spot at the North Face Endurance 50-miler in Canada in 2015.

“I’ve always loved the outdoors and was a climber before a triathlete friend convinced me to run a half marathon with him,” she said. “I really enjoyed it and I was hooked.”

Flori says the flow of running is what drew her in. “The repetitive motion makes me feel alive,” she said. “It’s a primal feeling—I’m at one with nature when I’m on trails.”

Relocating for her research to scenic New Zealand in 2016, Flori migrated entirely from climbing to running, joining a running club for training. She took on some shorter distance trail races and then won the Taupo 100K. “I started thinking that maybe I was good at endurance,” she says. “In 2017, I entered the Tarawera 100 and took third behind [2008 U.S. Olympic marathoner] Magda Boulet and [2017 Comrades champion] Camille Herron. I was shocked but I realized I could compete on an international level.”

Herron has since become Flori’s coach, and it was that Tarawera race that made Herron take note.

“I watched her run neck-and-neck with Magda Boulet,” Herron said. “What I remember most as I looped around and saw her was the big smile on her face.”

Since then there have been few hiccups in Flori’s ascent to the upper echelons of ultras. She pulled off fifth at last year’s Western States in 19:44 and followed it up with a 10th place finish at the 101K CCC in the French Alps last September, which she admits, tested her. “It was a learning experience,” she said. “I was sick and had to stop at aid stations quite a bit. But I still managed 10th and I’m proud of myself.”

Herron says Flori has a bright future ahead of her. “I saw that same smile on Cecilia’s face at 62 miles into Western last year. For someone to look that good in fifth place tells me she has lots more to give.

(06/24/2019) ⚡AMP
by Amanda Loudin
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Western States 100

Western States 100

2020 race has been cancelled. The Western States ® 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the...

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South African Gerda Steyn shattered the course record at Comrades as Camille had to drop out due to hamstring issues

The 94th running of South Africa’s premier Ultra marathon, the Comrades got underway at 5:30am Sunday June 9. 

South African runners Edward Mothibi and Gerda Steyn ended up the 2019 Comrades Marathon champions.  Gerda broke the course record winning one million R ($66,849US) in the process.  

Edward Mothibi won the race after a fourth placed finish in his Comrades debut last year, beating defending champion Bongmusa Mthembu by just 25 seconds.

Local favourite Gerda Steyn stole the show on Sunday as she shattered the women’s record leading the charge with South African athletes produced sterling performances in KwaZulu-Natal.

After breaking clear of the rest of the women’s field shortly before the halfway mark, Steyn gradually extended her lead throughout the second half, crossing the line in 5:58:53 to secure her maiden victory in the 87km race between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

This shattered the up-run record, held by Russian runner Elena Nurgalieva, by more than ten minutes. Steyn became the first woman to run the Comrades up run in less than six hours. Her time was the fourth fastest of all-time for women, the only faster times were notched in down-runs.

The race is run ‘gun to gun’ meaning that contestants have 12 hours in total to complete the course.

This year’s race is an “UP RUN” starting at the City Hall in Durban and finished at the Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg. The race distance is approximately 87km.

28-year-old Gerda Steyn has enjoyed a meteoric rise from amateur to professional in the space of just five years. After finishing as runner-up last year, Steyn took a six-week break from the sport before preparing to tackle the New York Marathon, finishing 13th in a PR of 2:31. The 2018 and 2019 Two Oceans winner made it clear in advance that her goal this year was to win and that is what she did this morning. 

America’s Camille Herron was not able to finished and dropped out.  

Camille’s brother Jack posted this on Facebook.  “My sister Camille Herron ended up dropping out from Comrades due too hamstring issues she’s been dealing with. I’m heart broken for her because this is just such a special event for her and our entire family.

“I understand the whole mentality of getting to race another day... but she trains so hard and we wait all year for her to defend this title she’s earned. I mean, just her single win is enough, but she goes out every time for a win, so when it doesn’t happen... it’s tough.”

Steyn now will shifts her focus away from Ultra marathons in a bid to qualify for the Olympic marathon in Tokyo next year. The Olympic marathon is expected to be run in blistering heat, with the start moved to 06:00 to mitigate potentially dangerous temperatures. Steyn’s ultra experience could make her a real contender for the Olympic crown.

(06/09/2019) ⚡AMP
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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America’s Camille Herron has a real shot at winning the Comrades marathon for the second time

The 94th running of the world-famous Comrades Marathon is scheduled to begin at 5:30am (8:30pm Pacific time Saturday) on Sunday, taking place from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.

“The Comrades Marathon attracts the very best ultra-runners in the world and this year will be no different. This year’s up-run already promises to be an epic race,” said Cheryl Winn, CMA chairperson.

In the women’s race, America’s Camilla Herron has a real shot of winning for the second time but her competition is top notch.

Here are the top five female contenders: 

1. Ann Ashworth (second photo) shocked the field to win the 2018 race with a tactical and composed performance. She subsequently left her career as an advocate to run full time ahead of the 2019 race. Ashworth is in good form and achieved a marathon PB of 2:35 at the Valencia Marathon in December.  A genuine contender to become the first female to win back-to-back races since Elena Nurgalieva.

2. Gerda Steyn The 28-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise from amateur to professional in the space of just five years. After finishing as runner-up last year, Steyn took a six-week break from the sport before preparing to tackle the New York Marathon, finishing 13th in a PB of 2:31. The 2018 and 2019 Two Oceans winner has made it clear, her goal this year is to claim a maiden Comrades Marathon title.

3. Camille Herron (first photo) was left gutted just weeks before last year’s race as injury robbed her of a chance to claim back-to-back victories. It has been two years since her big win but the raging crowds and electric atmosphere which greeted her at the finish at Scottsville Racecourse will serve as a huge motivating factor as she prepares for a comeback. She set a new 100-mile record at the Desert Solstice Track Invitational in December. As the reigning up-run champion, the 37-year-old is a genuine title contender.

4. Charne Bosman The 2016 down-run winner has proved to be one of South Africa’s most consistent athletes in recent years. She has five gold medals from six starts at Comrades. She is now 43 but there are no signs of her powers waning. She won the Johnson Crane Hire Marathon in January and the Om Die Dam Marathon in March. Bosman is in red hot form and is a genuine contender to win the race.

5. American Devon Yanko’s (third photo) Comrades journey began back in 2012 when she came fifth on debut. She then took a four-year break from the race but returned over the last two years to earn another two gold medals. She won the Oaklands Marathon in a time of 2:43 in March. An accomplished runner who knows what it takes push for a win.

Should the winner in either the Men’s or Women’s races in this year’s Comrades break the ‘Up Run’ Best Times of Russia’s Leonid Shvetsov (2008 – 5:24:49) or Elena Nurgalieva (2006 – 6:09:24) respectively, he or she will take home a minimum of R1-million ($66,849US) in Comrades prize money, comprised of a first prize of R500,000 plus a R500,000 incentive for breaking the Best Time; in addition to prizes for First South African (R200,000) and First KZN Man and Woman (R45,000). 

(06/08/2019) ⚡AMP
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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70-year-old Rosina Sebati will be this year’s oldest female runner at the Comrades Marathon

Rosina Sebati, 70, who ran her first Comrades in 2008, said her inspiration came after watching Bruce Fordyce still competing at an advanced age.

Sebati said her goal was to run at least 10 Comrades Marathons in her lifetime.

“I was very nervous about the race, I had never seen so many people all in one place at the same time and although I did not make it in time to finish, I got to experience the spirit of Comrades.

Runners do help each other out there while running, its where age, gender and colour disappear,” she said.

Sebati said although she had been a runner while growing up, even representing her province (Transvaal) , she only began running again after she was 50 in an effort to keep healthy.

“I will walk/ run up those difficult Cowie’s and Field’s hills. I want to finish in 11 hours,” she said.

(06/08/2019) ⚡AMP
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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This year 80-year-old Alf Burgess his running his 19th Comrades Marathon

The Richmond, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, resident said he is a regular runner in his neighborhood and has become a familiar face to drivers on this route.

“I start my running regime at midnight but moved it to 2am or 3am to run with the delivery trucks entering the area to feel safer. I run at least 7 minutes per kilometer,” said Burgess.

“I ran my first Comrades in 1967 with my teammate Tommy Malone, who died two months ago.”

He recalled the marathon in 1966 where Malone won his first his Comrades, saying this had inspired him to participate the following year.

Burgess participated in the race the following year where Malone lost by one second to Manie Kuhn because of a leg cramp.

“I placed 51st in my first race. I’m running again after 18 years and I’ve run 18 (Comrades) marathons.”

He admitted that he used to start the marathon too fast causing him to tire easily and this contributed heavily to his 18-year long break from his last race in 2001.

Burgess said he plans to run another race in order to complete his personal goal of 20 races.

His advice to those who are keen on running the Comrades for the first time was to be fit, to start off with a walk and then a park run.

(06/07/2019) ⚡AMP
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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Maurice Rosen is running the 2019 Comrades Marathon for the 36th time since he was 25

Comrades veteran Maurice Rosen, 65, a financial officer says it was the feelings and emotions he felt in 1979 when he crossed the finish line after 89km that keeps him coming back every year.

“It's just that feeling at the end when you cross that finish line.

"Probably 95% of Comrades is the actual training and you put so much training into it and it is such a special day. I just want to get to the finish line,” he said.

Rosen said he had finished every Comrades he had entered, and he also enjoyed taking part in the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon and the Two Oceans Marathon.

The early riser said he starts training for the marathon a few months before Comrades by doing smaller weekend marathons in and around Joburg, and the intensity of his training picked up about three months before Comrades.

Over a five-month period, Rosen said, he runs about 2000km (1240 miles) in total.

He added there was a 10-week period before the marathon which was crucial for training, and he “buckles down.”

However, the week before the gruelling event he spends most of his time resting.

“It's difficult to train, but I think that it would be more difficult to sit in front of the television and try and watch it. I would say to myself that 'I just want to be there, I have got to be there',” he said.

Rosen ran Comrades for the first time in 1979 and has run every year except 1984 when he was studying. 

(06/05/2019) ⚡AMP
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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Gerda Steyn is focused to take the title at the 94th Comrades Marathon Sunday

After narrowly missing the record in last month’s Two Oceans Marathon, Steyn has enjoyed a trouble-free training camp in the mountains of France, together with third place finisher from last year, Steve Way, and Anthony Clark, both running this year’s race in the colours of Nedbank Running Club.

“A lot of people asked me if I am disappointed at just missing the record in Two Oceans,” laughed Steyn.

“Looking back at it now it was a little bit sad to be so close but even with 8km to go, I told myself to save the legs because Comrades is my main focus of the year and I didn’t want to do too much damage.” It’s a decision that Steyn hopes will pay dividends in this year’s event.

Last year’s winner Ann Ashworth comes into this race much faster than before, but it is the Up-run defending champion, Nedbank Running Club’s Camille Herron, who is hoping to defend her title.

A strong athlete with multiple world records, Herron is well known for her awkward running style that took her to victory in 2017.

Teaming up with her club mate Steyn, the two make a dangerous combination.

Throw in stalwart Fikile Mbuthuma and OMTOM gold medalist Ntombesintu Mfunzi who will be one to watch on her Comrades debut, the ‘Green Dream Team’ ladies will be a force on the route.

Adding to Nedbank’s Comrades debuts this year is Poland's Dominika Stelmach who had an unfortunate injury that forced her out of starting last year’s race.

After her fourth-place finish at this year’s Two Oceans, Stelmach is hungry to make an impression.

Also making a debut will be four-time World Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington. The 42-year-old English athlete ran 2 hours 51 minutes in this year’s London Marathon to qualify for Comrades which puts her in with a chance of a top 10 finish.

Carla Molinaro who represented Great Britain last year in the World 100km championships, but now has South African citizenship, will be another athlete looking for a top 10 finish after finishing ninth last year.

South African Deanne Horn is a newcomer in the ultra-marathon scene. She finished 42nd in her debut in 2017 and finished 15th last year and has represented South Africa in the World 100km championships. Together with team-mates Steyn, Mfunzi, Molinaro and Mbuthuma, the Nedbank ladies will be looking to take the team prize in this year’s race.

(06/04/2019) ⚡AMP
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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Canadians Catrin Jones and Calum Neff head to Comrades Marathon

Catrin Jones and Calum Neff, two of Canada’s strongest ultrarunners, are heading to South Africa this week to tackle the 94th running of South Africa’s most famous and historic ultramarathon, the Comrades, next Saturday, June 8.

Neff ran it for the first time last year, finishing in 31st position overall, in 6:08:06. Jones will be racing Comrades for the first time.

Jones is a veteran of the BC trail and road scenes who has eased back into racing since having her daughter, Elodie, who is now two.

“I’ve been wanting to go for years and thought about it many times,” says Jones, inspired by her friend, the much-decorated ultrarunner Ellie Greenwood, who won Comrades in 2014.

Jones won last year’s Squamish 50K and Whistler 30K, and finished third at the 2018 BMO Vancouver Marathon.

Neff holds the Guinness World Record for fastest marathon while pushing a stroller (2:21:22), set with his daughter Alessandra at the 2016 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

(Neff also held the half-marathon stroller record for a time, but his 1:11:27 from 2016 was eclipsed in 2017.) Neff is from Ontario but lives and trains in Houston, Texas.

(06/03/2019) ⚡AMP
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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Kenyan athletes have never been big on tackling the 90km race between Pietermaritzburg and Durban South Africa

The Comrades Marathon hasn't been a hit with Kenyan long distance athletes‚ but the entries of Justin Chesire Kemboi and Melly Kennedy will lend the long needed East African flavour the race has needed.

Kenyan athletes have long been considered as the toast of African distance running with their Ethiopian competitors close behind them.

However‚ they've never been big on tackling the 90km race between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

In the race's roll of honour‚ that's showed but they've made an impression on the shorter and less taxing Two Oceans Marathon (56km).

Cheshire and Kennedy will be running for the Nedbank Running Club with the former having won the Two Oceans Marathon last year in a time of 3.09.21.

Kennedy came fourth in the same race. This year‚ Kemboi was third behind Bong'musa Mthembu and David Gatebe.

Nick Bester‚ a former Comrades Marathon winner and team manager of the Nedbank Running Club‚ said there's enough financial incentive in the world's oldest and largest ultra-marathon for them to take it serious.

Elite Kenyan marathon runners are often seen dominating blue chip races like the New York‚ London and Boston Marathons.

The winner of the respective Comrades races will win R500,000 ($34,000US) each with the runner's up winning R250,000 ($17,000US).

“Which professional athlete will run a long distance for free? It makes no sense.

"Why would you waste your legs and body on a long distance and not get paid for it. It's a professional thing and guys have to be paid for their efforts‚” Bester said.

“Their mindset isn't shaped by ultra-marathons as they are pretty fast.

"They grow up in environments where track and shorter marathons dominated their thinking. The Comrades has always been a great race but it's become very popular now with international athletes.

"One must remember that Comrades isn't about pace or speed. It's a lot about the mental battle.”

It will be interesting to see how these Kenyans will do in this year's Comrades Marathon.

 

(05/30/2019) ⚡AMP
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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Siya Mqambeli could win the Comrades Marathon June 9

Granted, Siya Mqambeli is not yet in the class of a Bongmusa Mthembu or David Gatebe, but to win The Ultimate Human Race takes way more than talent. An athlete needs to have the will and self-belief that he can conquer one of the world’s most difficult ultra-marathons.

Mqambeli has both in abundance and those around him are in no doubt that the runner from Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape, South Africa will back his words with action come June 9.

Given his great runs at the Eastern Cape’s Buffs and Legends Marathons this year, you could not argue that he is one to watch.

Mqambeli finished third in both races, running 2hr 26min in the standard marathon and 4:12 in the 68km Legends event.

But it was at Entsika's camp in Dullstroom where he gave the clearest indication yet that he is going for Comrades gold.

During an easy one-hour run with five of his teammates and yours truly, Mqambeli was poetry in motion and hardly looked like he got out of first gear. He exchanged friendly banter with teammate Gordon Lesetedi and his face told the story of a contented man.

This was in stark contrast to last year when he resembled an adopted kid struggling to be at home in his new environment, reserved and conspicuous by his silence.

He ran an impressive 6:09.10 for 32md place in the Down Run last year to take home his sixth silver medal in seven attempts.

Next weekend, he is on no doubt he will bring home gold.

“So far my training has gone well,” he said with a broad smile. “I’m going to make things happen. I am confident that something great is going to happen come June 9.”

That Mqambeli is a new man has to do with the impact made by Entsika, the company that took coach John Hamlett and his athletes under their wing when their previous backers pulled out.

(05/29/2019) ⚡AMP
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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Coach John Hamlett says defending Comrades Marathon champion will be hard-pressed to defend his 2017 title

Speaking at the Team Entsika's launch in Dullstroom in Mpumalanga on Thursday‚ Hamlett‚ who has coached five Comrades Marathon winners since 2001‚ said Mthembu will be hard-pressed to defend his 2017 title because of his recent Two Oceans Marathon win.

“He's a tough athlete and there's nothing wrong with the man."It would be wonderful for him to win because it would make him into a legend.

"However‚ he's got a problem in reality because the guys feel exactly the way he does. They're hungry‚” Hamlett said.Team Entsika‚ which replaced the Tom-Tom Athletics team two years ago‚ has the likes of Gordon Lesetedi‚ Gift Kelehe and Siya Mqambeli to call on.

Kelehe followed in his brother Andrew's footsteps by winning the 2015 up-run in a time of 5.38.36 while his brother won the 2001 down-run in a time of 5.25.51.

Lesetedi (sixth)‚ down-run record holder David Gatebe (eighth) and Kelehe (ninth) were part of a Team Entsika trio that finished in the top 10 in last year's down-run that was won by Mthembu in a time of 5.26.34.

Mthembu won the 2017 up-run in a time of 5.35.34 in a race where Kelehe was third in a time of 5.41.48.Mthembu won last month's Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town in a time of 3.08.40.

“We've given him the bonus for the past two years but as a coach‚ I am concerned by the fact that he's run and won the Two Oceans Marathon so close to the Comrades‚" he said."It doesn't help you too much but we'll talk after 65kms.

”This year's Comrades Marathon up from Durban to Pietermaritzburg will take place on June 9.

(05/23/2019) ⚡AMP
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Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon

2020 race has been officially cancelled. Arguably the greatest ultra marathon in the world where athletes come from all over the world to combine muscle and mental strength to conquer the approx 90kilometers between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the event owes its beginnings to the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham. A soldier, a...

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Morné Basson will be attempting to run 72 half marathons in 72 days

For many, running one half marathon is a big deal, but Morné Basson, 43, is planning to run 72 consecutive half-marathons – in as many days.

When asked why he would be attempting to tackle this big (and maybe crazy) task, he answered, “Yes, Ido realise that people think I am crazy and am doing this for personal gain, but I’m actually doing it for a very good reason; to create awareness for people who suffer from Motor Neuron Disease (MND).

”He decided to undertake this challenge after losing a family member to this disease many years ago. “I ran quite a few Comrades Marathons, but, in 2015, I was not able to do so after my contract on a cruise ship was extended. So, while I was working on this ship in Alaska, I decided that I wanted to do something to create awareness for MND, and that I would run the marathon on a treadmill, at the same time as they were running in Durban,” said Morné. 

“In 2016, I decided to run 160km on a treadmill at the SA Rugby Museum in Cape Town for the same cause. In 2017, I became the first person in the world to run 31 full marathons in 31 days on a treadmill at various shopping malls in Gauteng. The plan was to do a crazy event in 2018, but my fiancèe passed away on 12 March 2018, and it became a very challenging and difficult year for me.”

Morné believed that he should continue to create awareness for this disease, which still has no cure, and explained, “There are very few companies or individuals doing anything for MND patients, and that is the main reason I will continue to create awareness and put pressure on companies to do more for this crippling disease.” 

So, on July 15, Morné will kick off his Guinness World Record attempt, which will be done at various Planet Fitness branches throughout South Africa.

(05/21/2019) ⚡AMP
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Three-time Comrades Marathon winner Bongumuza Mthembu won the men's race at the 50th edition of the Two Oceans Marathon

South Africans dominated the 50th edition of the Two Oceans Marathon.

Three-time Comrades Marathon winner Bongumusa Mthembu and Gerda Steyn finished first in the ultra-marathon in Cape Town on Saturday.

Mthembu completed the race in just over three hours clocking 3:08:40.

Gerda Steyn successfully defended her Two Oceans Marathon title with a time of 3:31:29.

(04/22/2019) ⚡AMP
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Two Oceans Marathon

Two Oceans Marathon

2020 race cancelled. Cape Town’s most prestigious race, the 56km Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, takes athletes on a spectacular course around the Cape Peninsula. It is often voted the most breathtaking course in the world. The event is run under the auspices of the IAAF, Athletics South Africa (ASA) and Western Province Athletics (WPA). The Ultra Marathon celebrated...

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Defending champions Kenyan Justin Kemboi Chesire and local favorite Gerda Steyn are hoping to successfully defend their titles at Two Oceans

A quality field of top local and international elite athletes will take part in this year's Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town on Saturday April 20.

Defending champions Kenyan Justin Kemboi Chesire (3:09:22) and local favourite Gerda Steyn (3:39:32), both from Nedbank Running Club, will be hoping to successfully defend their titles.

Steyn is training with an end goal of Comrades in mind, and with the Easter weekend being that much later this year, it might be a tough task to pull off both wins.

Chesire's training has been going according to plan but he can expect some tough competition from a quality field of ultra runners who have all been training to win.

His fellow countryman Abraham Kiprotich, who boasts the fastest marathon of the entire field (2:10 at the Istanbul Marathon late last year), will be running his first ultra marathon and it will be an interesting test to see how he fares over the last 14km with the Constantia Nek climb part of this last section.

Another popular Maxed Elite runner, Zimbabwean Prodigal Khumalo, is back running after a foot injury had him sidelined since December last year. Khumalo has chosen to run the 24km trail event.

Joining this strong field of male runners is local trail legend Ryan Sandes. He has switched from running the trail event for this year, to running his first 56km ultra event. Sandes is hoping to add the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon to his illustrious list of achievements.

(04/03/2019) ⚡AMP
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Two Oceans Marathon

Two Oceans Marathon

2020 race cancelled. Cape Town’s most prestigious race, the 56km Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, takes athletes on a spectacular course around the Cape Peninsula. It is often voted the most breathtaking course in the world. The event is run under the auspices of the IAAF, Athletics South Africa (ASA) and Western Province Athletics (WPA). The Ultra Marathon celebrated...

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Best Racing Moment of 2018 and My Best Runs 2019 World Best 100 Races were announced today

My Best Runs "Best Racing Moment in 2018" and the My Best Runs "2019 World Best 100 Races" were announced today in Mountain View, California at the My Best Runs (MBR) headquarters.

First on the agenda was the announcement of the 2018 Best Racing Moment. MBR founder Bob Anderson stated, "Eluid Kipchoge was all smiles as he crossed the finish line at the Berlin Marathon September 29." 

"He had just smashed the world marathon record clocking 2:01:39.  Eliud ran the last 17k without pacers, pushing himself, taking off one minute and 18 seconds off of Dennis Kimetto's record."

"The world has rarely seen one event so dominated by one man, Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge," says Bob who also was the founder of Runner's World magazine (1966) and publisher for 18 years.

Eliud has won many awards this year including World Athletes of the Year at the IAAF Awards.

Next up on the agenda was the annoucement of the 4th Annual My Best Runs 2019 World Best 100 Races. 

"There are so many good races in the world.  This list could easily be much bigger.  However, as we have done now for four years, we have narrowed it down to the top 100," stated Bob. 

The featured race at 44 of the best 100 are marathons.  There are 20 half marathons and 14 10ks.  There is the Western States 100 miler and the Comrades Ultra marathon in South Africa.

The shortest race is the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile in New York City.  The longest is the 156 mile Marathon Des Sables coming up March 5 in Morocco. 

Most offer prize money totally million of US dollars.  The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon coming up January 26 is offering $1,316,000.  This marathon which was first held in 2000 top four men at the 2018 race all ran under between 2:04:00 and 2:04:06.  Four women ran between 2:19:17 and 2:19:53.

"It is good to see over $21 million (from races MBR are featuring) in prize money being offered runners," says Bob.  "Running is what these runners do and the money is well deserved and important for our sport."

Of course the Berlin Marathon is one of our top 100 but so is the Valencia Half Marathon (Spain) where Abraham Kiptum broke the world half marathon record in the 2018 race by clocking 58:18. 

The Birell 10k Race in Prague, CZE also made the list again for the 4th year. 18-year-old Phonex Kipruto from Kenya clocked 26:46 while Caroline Kipkirui clocked 30:19.  "This is one fast evening race and obviously belongs on our top 100 list," stated Bob.

The list has races from 23 different countries. 

"You can not go wrong in running any of these races," says Bob Anderson. "Your biggest challenge in many of these races will be to be able to be on the starting line. But if you can get in, you will have a blast."

(12/19/2018) ⚡AMP
by My Best Runs
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Camille Herron is back and better than ever after suffering a quad injury

Herron transitioned to trail running in 2016 and promptly set a course record by 27 minutes at the Ultra Race of Champions 100K in 9:36:05—and did it while drinking a Rogue Ales Dead Guy Ale during the last few miles of the race, which has since become part of her racing strategy.

In June 2017, Camille Herron competed in Comrades Marathon, a race in South Africa known for its 55-miles of torturous mountainous climbs. She crossed the line first by over four minutes, and became the third American ever to win the race.

Then in November, Herron not only won her first 100-mile race at the Tunnel Hill 100, but broke the World Record for the women’s 100-mile distance by over an hour.

During the race, she averaged a pace of 7:38 per mile. For Herron, running is not only a sport, but an extension of her identity; she is voracious in her pursuit of distance, but she has fun, too.

She looks forward to her post-run bacon and beer and, the night before big races, Herron brings a speaker to host dance parties. Sometimes she’s still dancing the next morning on the start line. This year, Herron was poised to return to the 2018 Comrades race in the best shape of her life.

However, in late May of 2018, just weeks before she was set to toe the line, she tried a new quad strengthening routine she found on YouTube. Always one to push herself to the limits, Herron found herself limping in the days that followed, due to a stress reaction of the femur and she withdrew from Comrades.

Weeks later, realizing she could not run at all, she withdrew from the 2018 Western States Endurance Run as well. Herron, 36, who now splits her time between Alamosa, Colorado, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, took her first steps back running eight weeks ago and recently completed a 114.6-mile week of training.  Camille is back and will be racing soon.

(11/15/2018) ⚡AMP
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Gene Dykes is currently the world's top 70 Plus runner - My Best Runs Exclusive Profile Part One

Gene Dykes is the world's best runner in the world currently seventy plus. "One of my 'secret' training methods for marathons is to run a lot of ultras," Gene told My Best Runs in this exclusive profile.

"I’ll begin training for Boston in January, and to kick it off I’ll run a 50-miler in January and both a 100-miler and a 200-miler in February. During March I’ll convert that training base into marathon speed." 

Sounds wild and unconventional but it has been working for 70-year-old Gene Dykes from Philadelphia..."It was thought by many of us that Canada's Ed Whitlock's records were way beyond reach," says lifelong runner and Runner's World and My Best Runs founder Bob Anderson. 

"At age 73 Ed became the first 70 plus runner in the world to run the marathon under three hours."  In 2004 73-year-old Ed Whitlock clocked an amazing 2:54:48 at the Scotiabank Tornonto Waterfront Marathon. 

No one ever had run a marathon that fast 70 plus. The late Ed Whitlock was in a league of his own until now.  At the same marathon this year on October 21, 70-year-old Gene Dykes clocked 2:55:18. 

My Best Runs wanted to find out more about this new super star, a runner who has set PR's at all distances (other than the 5k) over the last year from 1500m to 200 miles. How did Gene discover running? 

"It’s probably more accurate to say that I discovered running twice," said Gene. "The first time, when I was about fourteen, it just kind of popped into my head to run three miles to the house of a girl I was interested in.  After about a mile and a half, I had to walk for a bit.  I was really disgusted with myself, and I swore I would never again resort to walking on a run. 

"I actually kept this promise, until I started doing trail races, of course, where there are lots of good reasons to walk now and then." 

After this he ran track in high school for a couple of years. "In my senior year I thought I was pretty good when I dominated the 2-mile run in my county.  That notion was quickly dispelled when I ran track in college and I was totally blown away by the competition.  For the next four decades, I would stay in jogging shape much of the time, but it never occurred to me to race because it had been firmly impressed upon me that I wasn’t a very good runner," Gene remembers. 

He rediscovered running in 2004 at the age of 56 after a six year layoff because of a torn hamstring... "A golfing acquaintance told me he had a running group and that I should join him sometime.  A classic case of falling in with a bad crowd.  They encouraged me to run some races with them, and discovering that I wasn’t half bad, my running career was born," Gene told us. 

So how important is running to Gene?  "It started out as an activity I looked forward to on weekends, and it slowly took over as my main hobby.  Probably starting around 2011 when I ran my first adventure race and started training for Comrades (56-mile race in South Africa) it became way more than just a hobby.  While it will never quite reach the point of being 'all-consuming.' I suppose you would be forgiven for thinking that, considering that I’ll have done 38 races in 34 weekends this year." 

The obvious next question was, tell us about your training.  "For about nine years I just stumbled my way through training.  I did lots of long, slow runs with occasional track workouts.  I gradually improved, and I was having a lot of fun, but I was worried that my best days were behind me when I fell miserably short of a new marathon PR at the 2013 Toronto Marathon. 

"Swallowing my pride and opening my wallet, I hired a coach.  What a life changing decision that was!  In just five months I went from a half decent runner with modest goals to a runner capable of competing at the highest levels. Training now consists of fewer miles, but harder workouts and fewer rest days," says Gene. 

He has set PR's in the last 12 months from 200 miles down to the 1500m.  He clocked 98 hours, 10 minutes 22 seconds for 200 miles, 23:41:22 for 100 miles, 1:26:34 for the half marathon and 5:17 for 1500m. 

In 2018 he won ten USATF national championships. His 2:57:43 clocked at this year's Rotterdam Marathon was a world single age record until he bettered it in Toronto.  

Gene says, "I’m particularly fond of having won championships at both track 1500 meters and trail 100 mile this year.”  In part two Gene talks about his diet, going after more records, dealing with injuries and a lot more.  Coming tomorrow October 29 on My Best Runs.          

(10/28/2018) ⚡AMP
by Bob Anderson
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South Africa’s ultra star Gerda Steyn is going to run the New York Marathon

Two Oceans champ Gerda Steyn to run New York Marathon. “So honored to be invited to the Greatest marathon on the earth!” Steyn tweeted on Tuesday. Dubbed the smiling assassin after her breakthrough Two Oceans ultra marathon victory in April to hoist her flag in the South African ultra-running landscape, the 28-year-old continues to improve in her fledgling career. In her first Comrades in 2015, the novice finished an impressive 56th in eight hours 19 minutes and eight seconds. A year later, Steyn was just outside the top-10 taking 14th in 7:08:23. Then in 2017, her phenomenal rise in the race continued with a fourth-place finish in 6:45:45. This year Steyn finished second in 6:15:34, beaten to first place by the phenomenal run of Ann Ashworth who took victory in 6:10:04. Steyn has a 42.2km personal best 2:37:22, and could well improve on that time at the New York Marathon. (08/22/2018) ⚡AMP
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Richard Mazungula was born to run but he didn't know it until last year

Richard Mazungula is arguably one of the best athletes in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa. The 41-year-old said he used to run in track races in high school, but it’s been years. “Back then, people used to tell me I had talent, but I only ran for fun, not for fame. I don’t know why I started running again. It can only be God’s grace,” he explained. His first venture back on the track was for a 5km race in Forest Hill last year and, to his great surprise, he came first. He’s been running non-stop ever since. Since September last year, Mazungula has run almost 75 races. He is now a proud member of the Nedbank Running Club.  Mazungula has astounded many racing fans by running five ultra marathons this year alone. The first was the Amobia Bay Ultra Marathon in February, followed by the 2018 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon and the Bruintjieshoogte Marathon. Only four days after the that Marathon he ran the Zwelitsha Mdantsane Ultra Marathon. The last ultra was the 2018 Comrades Marathon. This came as a surprise to him as well as he said he never ran more than 15km races when he was younger. “Most athletes only run one ultra a year. I’ve run five this year alone and I have no pain or injuries. “It must be God’s will. “Some of the guys asked me if I had any help, but I don’t use any supplements or anything like that. We’re tested for those kind of things. I just like to run.” (07/25/2018) ⚡AMP
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South Africian Bee Keeper Runs Ultra Marathons to bring attention to Honeybees

Running ultra marathons is impressive enough; but running backwards through one is astounding – and that’s exactly what Farai Chinomwe did for the sake of honeybees. The South African beekeeper first discovered his knack for running backwards while returning home from a bee removal and his car broke down—with a crateful of anxious pollinators in the back seat. As Chinomwe pushed his car, he found that he had more strength when he turned around and pushed the vehicle backwards. From that point forward, he realized that his unique penchant for running backwards might be a way to coax people into think about honeybees. Chinomwe has since run dozens of ultra marathons all while facing the wrong way. His peculiar habit has proved surprisingly effective in drawing awareness to the plight of honeybees and how people can help. Chinomwe, who runs a bee removal service called Blessed Bee Africa, uses the attention to educate youngsters on beekeeping and how they can nourish local pollinator populations. Chinomwe has run the Two Oceans and Om die Dam Marathons backwards, and reverse-ran the Comrades Marathon three times. “This is dedicated to us saving bees, because they are under threat as we are talking right now,” Chinomwe says. Although he may be finishing his races the wrong way, he’s taking the future of bees in the right direction. (07/22/2018) ⚡AMP
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Global Run Challenge Profile: Pulkit Singh went out one morning at 3:30am to escape the pressure of his job and started running

RUN THE WORLD: Pulkit Singh (26) took a high pressure job after graduation in 2015 in the Steel City of India, Jamshedpur.  He started feeling burned out and he needed to do something.  "It was one normal working day that I woke up on unearthly hours and went out for a run.. It was 3:30am, I started to run and since then I have never looked back. I got infected by the running bug."  Running has changed Pulkit's life. "Running is like a tonic/medicine to my everyday routine. The pressurized work culture of my company hasn’t changed but my patience, tolerance and attitude has completely changed. Today I remain active even after working for 12+ hours a day. Running has taught me the art of ‘perseverance," he says.  He completed his first marathon in 6 hours 9 minutes.  " I am proud of the fact that I was on my feet for 6 hours. Under hot blazing sun I completed my first marathon (FM). People criticize runners who walk while running their FM. I have an altogether different aspect for this. Many a time it came in my mind that I should give up and consider a respectable DNF and come back next year in a stronger avatar. But the glory which waits at the finish line motivated me to complete."  He has many goals but one is to run the 100th annual Comrades Marathon in 2021.   Pulkit has to say about this challenge.  "The fact that you have a challenge in front of you motivates you to bring out the best in one’s own self. Once the Run The World Challenge concludes we are all winners, no matter how many miles we have logged. The fact that an individual takes up a challenge is in itself terms him/her to be a winner because they all gave up their comfort zone for a better/fitter tomorrow. You never know whom you are motivating indirectly"       (07/10/2018) ⚡AMP
by Bob Anderson
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Xolani Luvuno finishes the Comrades Marathon and says running has turned his life around after losing one leg

Xolani Luvuno, was five hours into the race when the rest of the field started at 5:30 a.m. He had been granted additional time because after an injury his right leg was amputated, according to News 24, an African news outlet. Race organizers granted him the additional time on the course, but said he would not be an official participant of the race because it would take longer than the 12-hour cutoff time. He says that the marathon required a lot of training.  “It helped me to turn my life around because I used to be an alcoholic, going to parties.  Instead of partying anymore, I focus on my running.” He had this to say at the finish line: “I wanted to make sure that I finish before cut-off time and my coach said to me don’t rush because the Comrades Marathon is not 42km, it’s a big race. I want to say thank you to the supporters who cheered for me on the route, as well as the director of the Comrades Marathon for giving me this chance.” But just like he had overcome a lot in his life just to make it to this race, Luvuno was there to overcome the course. He did just that when he crossed the line in 15 hours, 50 minutes.  (06/11/2018) ⚡AMP
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South African Runners take Top spots at the Comrades Ultra Marathon

South Africa completed a clean sweep at the Comrades Marathon on Sunday as Bongmusa Mthembu and Ann Ashworth ensured that the coveted titles remained in South Africa. It was a South Africa 1-2 in the two categories with Joseph Mphuthi and Gerda Steyn‚ clinching the runners-up spots. In achieving his feat‚ Mthembu completed a hat-trick of victories (after he won in 2014 and 2017) and in the process became only the second man to do it since Bruce Fordyce won the popular ultra-marathon back to back in 1988. The Arthur Ford runner waded off a strong challenge from Marko Mambo of Zimbabwe‚ who had set the pace for the better part in the second half of the 90km down run. Mthembu made his breakthrough at Cowies Hill‚ some 18km from the finish at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. At this point‚ it was left for the rest of the pack that also had a significant South African presence to jostle for the remaining top ten slots. (06/10/2018) ⚡AMP
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Last year's Comrades winner will defend his title on sunday at Comrades Marathon

Bongmusa Mthembu wants to prove he is South Africa’s current best ultra-distance runner.  He has finished among the top three on five occasions at Comrades, with four of those performances achieved on the ‘down’ run. The only South African since 1990 to secure victory more than once.  He was also a silver medallist at the 2016 100km World Championships, and he will be eager to stand up and deliver once again. Other contenders include powerful front-runner Rufus and in-form Zimbabwean athlete Hatiwande Nyamande. While Mthembu and Gatebe are considered the pre-race favorites, a number of other athletes could pull through to win this wide-open race. Title contenders include former winners Ludwick Mamabolo and Gift Kelehe, as well as Zimbabwean athlete Hatiwande Nyamande, who finished third in last year’s ‘up’ run.  On the women's side, last year’s American winner Camille Herron is not running.  (06/09/2018) ⚡AMP
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Veteran athlete Barry Holland will be running his 46th Comrades Marathon

Comrades veteran Holland aims to extend unique record, Barry Holland will bid to complete his 46th Comrades Marathon this Sunday and extend the record for most finishes in the race. “I’m very proud about the record; it has been a very long journey. I’ve been running since I was 20 years old and I’ve run every race since then,” he said from his home in Durban yesterday. Holland jointly holds the record for the most completed Comrades finishes with Louis Massyn and Dave Rogers, who has stopped running. “I’m hoping to run about 10 hours and 50 minutes on Sunday. I’m running with my daughter and it’s her first run, so I’m expecting it to be a very special and emotional day with her,” he said. The 66-year old said the most interesting thing over the years was the difficulty to achieve certain goals. He said it took a great deal of hard work and dedication to get certain goals and milestones that were normally time-based, like the Comrades. “I originally wanted to get less than seven hours and I battled to do that for a very long time. Overcoming that obstacle by thinking, strategising and unpacking my training has been the most interesting thing over the years,” he said. When speaking about the difficulties faced during the race, Holland said a runner needed great discipline and a “good head” to get through certain questions, such as “why am I doing this?”, halfway through the marathon. “Your mental side is bigger than the physical side. (06/06/2018) ⚡AMP
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Underberg local Nkosinathi Duma is dreaming big for this year's Comrades Marathon

Nkosinathi Duma is still a relative novice in the Comrades Marathon but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming big. Born and bred in Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal, Duma has experienced a mixed and emotional start to his Comrades career. He made his debut in the world’s biggest ultra-marathon back in 2013. The 31-year-old has competed in three Comrades but has only managed to finish two. After making his debut in the famous race, Duma opted for a two-year break and returned in 2016. Things didn’t go as planned. though, as he failed to finish. Last year he came back strong as he finished 16th overall. Now Duma is backing himself for a top 10 place and the gold medal that this brings. He has been training with last year’s champion Bongmusa Mthembu under coach Arthur Ford. “Nothing has disrupted my preparations. I have no injuries and I’m looking forward to the race,” Duma enthused. “I started my preparations in December. My training programme is different from the one I used in 2016 and 2017. For the past two years, we used to run 150km per week and this time around we are running more than 250km per week. “It hasn’t been easy but it is worth it. I want to emulate my performance of last year. My target this year is to be in the top 10,” he added with confidence. (06/04/2018) ⚡AMP
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Wietsie van der Westhuizen has participated in 40 consecutive Comrades Marathons

Wietsie van der Westhuizen's love for running started when he was a student at Potchefstroom University in Free State, and he has since participated in 40 consecutive Comrade Marathons. He was invited to run the Two Oceans Marathon by a friend, and this lead to his first Comrades. "At the end of the Two Oceans Marathon, they handed out pamphlets on the Comrades, and I decided to do the Comrades. So at the age of 19, I ran my first Comrades — and I have not stopped yet," the 60-year-old said. He says running is a great sport, because it unites people.   "Anybody can run; you don't have to be a built person, you can be overweight, you can be skinny. Running is for the average person, and I love the spirit of running. Runners do not see color; they're just comrades, like a family," he said. Van der Westhuizen will be running his 41st consecutive Comrades Marathon is a family affair. "My two daughters are running, my son-in-law is running, my brother are running..." (05/30/2018) ⚡AMP
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South African's Johannes Kekana, says I am afraid this will be my final race in Comrades

It's gold or bust for Johannes Kekana at this year's Comrades Marathon, the veteran runner saying he is taking a final tilt at golden glory in The Ultimate Human Race. “I am afraid this will be my final race in Comrades if I fail to make it into the top ten this year,” the Boxer Athletics Club runner said yesterday. While he is one of the country's best in the standard marathon, Kekana has not made great shakes in the ultra-distances. His best run in Comrades came way back in 2013 when he finished 5th in a time of 5:46:27. Before and thereafter, Kekana never broke six hours. Why then is he putting his cards out on the table as he has this time around? “I am feeling like I did back in 2012 and 2013. One of the main reasons I've not had good Comrades runs is the lack of proper camp because of not having sponsors. In 2012 (he completed Comrades in 6hrs and three seconds) and 2013, I was running for Bonitas who organised camps for us. I also did very well in both the Two Oceans and City to City.” He has had a good camp in Mpumalanga and is looking forward to next Sunday. (05/29/2018) ⚡AMP
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Willie Mtolo is adamant that South African athletes will again emerge victorious at the Comrades Marathon

Running legend Mtolo is optimistic that the domination of South Africa’s black male athletes will continue in this year’s Comrades Marathon. The showdown for this much anticipated, world famous KwaZulu/Natal ultra-marathon will take place on June 10. This year’s edition is the Down Run and will see the race starting in Pietermaritzburg with the finish now moved to the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. The supremacy of black local athletes has been evident in the past six years since Ludwick Mamabolo ended Zimbabwean Stephen Muzhingi’s three-year (2009 to 2011) stranglehold on the event. Claude Moshiywa, Bongmusa Mthembu (twice), Gift Kelehe and David Gatebe have ensured the title of The Ultimate Human Race remains on local shores. Mtolo is adamant that South African athletes will again emerge victorious in a fortnight’s time. “My money is on either Bongmusa Mthembu or David Gatebe. You can’t also rule out Gift Kelehe. I have no doubt that Comrades will be won by another South African athlete this year.”  “Between Mthembu and Gatebe, one of them will win Comrades. Mthembu possesses a very impressive record (5.28.34) in the Down Run,” explained Mtolo who finished Comrades runner-up in 1989 and 2002. (05/28/2018) ⚡AMP
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Former champion Caroline Wostmann has withdrawn from the Comrades Marathon.

Former champion Caroline Wostmann withdraws from Comrades. Wostmann made the announcement through her running club KPMG. "We all understand that her withdrawal is a loss for the 2018 Comrades Marathon and Caroline’s large number of loyal supporters. This was a very tough and emotional decision, but we all believe it was the right one for the athlete at this point in time," the club said. "As a previous winner of both the Comrades and Two Oceans marathons, Caroline was doing everything in her power to properly prepare for this race she so dearly loves. The KPMG Running Club will continue to support Caroline on her journey back to full fitness." Wostmann, 2015 Comrades Marathon and two-time Two Oceans champion, was in the middle of her journey back to full fitness after struggling most of 2017 with a torn quadratus femoris muscle (muscle under the glute) in her left leg. (05/26/2018) ⚡AMP
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Rob Davies biggest challenge is the 58 mile Comrades ultra marathon coming up June 10

Rob Davies will fly to South Africa in preparation for a gruelling challenge that starts on June 10. Rob, 59, will be competing in the Comrades Ultra Marathon, also known as the Ultimate Human Race, a road race with a distance of 58 miles (90.1km). The race starts at Pietermaritzburg and ends in Durban in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province. The race has to be completed in 12 hours, starting at 5.30am where the temperatures can be close to freezing and rising to a possible 80F as the day progresses. The terrain is very hilly, meaning an already extremely challenging race is made even tougher. Mr Davies said: “Family, friends and colleagues know that I 'run a bit', or should I say 'a lot'. I have been fortunate enough, privileged even, to be able to complete 48 marathons, across Wales, England, Ireland, France and Germany but this is by far my biggest challenge to date.” He started his training in December which typically involves 8 to 10 hours running weekly alongside strength and conditioning in the gym. (05/25/2018) ⚡AMP
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South African's David Gatebe gunning for 56K Two Oceans Marathon record

Gatebe is intent on doing to the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon record what he did to the Comrades Marathon two years ago - obliterate it. “David says he’d like to break the record,” said his coach John Hamlett on Wednesday. “And he’s looking good for it. Of course it is not an easy record and with the seconding restrictions at Two Oceans, we will find it a little difficult to feed him well. But he is going for it.” Gatebe and Edwin Khonkhobe are Hamlett’s two athletes who will be going to the Mother City to compete for the title on Saturday. “Edwin is a very fast, new kid on the ultras block who has really come alive and we are hoping he gets onto the podium.” The record that David will try to beat is 3:03:44 set by Thompson Magawana in 1988 for the 56K (35 mile) race in Cape Town, SA. (03/29/2018) ⚡AMP
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I told my training partner 10 years ago, I'll never run an ultra says Camille Herron

Camille Herron is going after the 24 Hour World Record starting Saturday March 17 at the Lhotse 24 Hour Endurance Run at the Owasso High School Track in Owasso, Oklahoma. The current record is 161.55 miles. Camille shattered the 100 mile world record last November in Illinois with a time of 12 hours, 42 minutes and 40 seconds (7:38/mile pace) On March 7 Camille posted this on FB, "I clearly remember telling my training partner 10 yrs ago, “I’ll never run an ultra! Those sound bad for your body!” In 2017 she won the Comrades Marathon (89K). She is simply an amazing ultra runner... Thanks Brian Hoover (03/15/2018) ⚡AMP
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