Discover the Comrades Marathon: Things You Need to Know


The Comrades Marathon is an iconic ultra-marathon held annually in South Africa, attracting thousands of runners from around the world. Known for its challenging course, rich history, and camaraderie among participants, the Comrades Marathon is a test of endurance and determination. Whether you’re planning to participate or simply curious about this renowned event, here’s everything you need to know about the Comrades Marathon.

1. Event Date and Route

The Comrades Marathon alternates its direction each year between the “Up Run” (from Durban to Pietermaritzburg) and the “Down Run” (from Pietermaritzburg to Durban). In 2024, the Down Run is scheduled for Sunday, June 9th, starting in Pietermaritzburg and finishing in Durban.

2. History and Heritage

Established in 1921, the Comrades Marathon is the world’s oldest and largest ultra-marathon race. It was initiated to commemorate South African soldiers who lost their lives during World War I. Since then, the race has grown in stature and become an iconic event in the global running community.

3. Race Distances and Categories

The Comrades Marathon covers a distance of approximately 90 kilometers (56 miles), alternating annually between the Up Run and Down Run routes. Runners can participate in either the “Ultra” category (running the full distance) or the “Half Marathon” category, which covers approximately half the distance.

4. Challenge and Difficulty

The Comrades Marathon is renowned for its grueling course, featuring steep hills, descents, and varied terrain. The Up Run is particularly challenging as it climbs from sea level in Durban to the higher altitude of Pietermaritzburg, testing participants’ physical and mental endurance.

5. Qualifying and Entry

To participate in the Comrades Marathon, runners must qualify by completing an officially recognized marathon or ultra-marathon within a specified time frame. Entry into the race is competitive, and registration typically opens several months in advance. It’s advisable to check the official Comrades Marathon website for qualifying criteria and registration details.

6. Race Day Experience

On race day, participants gather early in the morning to prepare for the challenge ahead. The atmosphere is electric with excitement and nervous energy as runners set off on their journey. Spectators line the route, offering encouragement and support to runners throughout the course.

7. Support Stations and Logistics

Throughout the race, support stations are strategically placed along the route, providing runners with water, energy drinks, snacks, and medical assistance. Crews and supporters play a crucial role in providing moral support and logistical assistance to runners throughout their journey.

8. Finish Line and Celebrations

Crossing the finish line of the Comrades Marathon is a momentous achievement celebrated by runners and supporters alike. The atmosphere at the finish in Durban is festive, with music, cheers, and camaraderie among finishers. Runners receive medals and commemorative t-shirts as recognition of their accomplishment.

9. Accommodation and Travel

Participants and spectators are advised to book accommodation well in advance, especially in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, as these cities experience high demand during the Comrades Marathon weekend. Plan your travel logistics carefully to ensure a smooth experience on race day.

10. Community and Spirit

The Comrades Marathon is more than just a race; it embodies the spirit of camaraderie, perseverance, and sportsmanship. Runners of all abilities come together to challenge themselves and support each other, creating lifelong memories and forging bonds that transcend borders and cultures.


The Comrades Marathon is a testament to the human spirit and a celebration of endurance, determination, and community. Whether you’re a seasoned ultra-runner or dreaming of taking on the challenge for the first time, the Comrades Marathon offers an unforgettable experience. Prepare well, embrace the journey, and join thousands of runners in tackling one of the world’s most iconic ultra-marathons.

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