More money and harder times for Comrades runners

General views at the finish line during the 2018 Comrades Marathon on June 10, 2018 in Durban, South Africa.
General views at the finish line during the 2018 Comrades Marathon on June 10, 2018 in Durban, South Africa.
Image: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

Comrades Marathon organisers have bumped up prize money for next year’s race and toughened qualifying times to bump stragglers off the course.

Race director Rowyn James announced at a launch in Johannesburg on Thursday that the total prize fund had increased 8.5% to R4.3-million‚ with the men’s and women’s winners to receive R500‚000 each.

On the other side of the field‚ however‚ the qualifying times have been tightened up slightly‚ by 10 minutes to 4hr 50min for a standard marathon and to 6:45:00 for those doing the Two Oceans.

“There’s a very high non-finishing rate there‚ among the people who qualify in the last 10 minutes‚” said Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) chair Cheryl Winn‚ adding many of these runners also required medical assistance along the way.

Entries for the 2019 edition of the race‚ a 12-hour epic from Durban to Pietermaritzburg on June 9‚ will open on October 19 and will close on December 10‚ although they sold out in three weeks last year.

The cap has been increased to 25‚000.

Entry fees are R600 for South Africans‚ R1‚500 for Africans and R3‚800 for other foreigners‚ but it’s free for people who have completed 25 or more marathons. There’s no more early bird special.

The CMA is also introducing two new medal categories.

The half gold-half silver Isavel Roche-Kelly medal will be the new silver for women missing gold‚ from 11th place down to 7:30:00.

For all runners‚ the titanium Robert Mtshali medal will go to those clocking nine hours to just under 10 hours‚ named for the first unofficial black Comrades runner from 1935.

Roche-Kelly was the first woman to break 7:30:00 in 1980.

CMA is also introducing new measures for the 2020 edition and beyond‚ such as earmarking 7‚000 entries for novices‚ but they must have already completed the qualifying time when they submit their entries.

The campaign slogan for the 2019 race is Sizonqoba‚ meaning “Together we triumph”.

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