Prize pool totalling R4.47m up for grabs at next year's Comrades Marathon
Comrades Marathon Association race director Rowyn James said the 90.2km distance for next year's down-run shouldn't be an inhibiting factor to run the best time.
James‚ who was speaking at the Comrades Marathon launch in Rosebank‚ had to field a question from 2015 up-run champion Gift Kelehe‚ who asked whether it was feasible to break David Gatebe's 2016 down-run time of 5.18.19.
The length of the 2016 down run was 89.2km and finished at Kingsmead‚ while next year's 90.2km down will be completed at the Moses Mabhida Stadium like the 2017 race won by Bongmusa Mthembu.
“The Comrades distance changes and that could be because of roadworks and operational factors.
"The best times are there to be broken‚ so we can't actually refer to it as the record because the distances change most of the time‚” James said.
“It is a tough time and distance‚ but that time can certain be broken.
"If you look at this year's up-run where Gerda Steyn became the first woman to run under six hours‚ no one else had done so. It is possible.”
Next year's 95th edition from Pietermaritzburg to Durban that'll take place on June 14 won't only feature special commemorative medals‚ but an increase in the prize money.
The race winners will get R525,000 and if they reel in the best times set by Gatebe in 2016 and Frith van der Merwe (5.54.43) back in 1989‚ they'll get an extra R525,000.
There's also the R20,000 for the first South African athlete to complete the race and R50,000 for the first KwaZulu-Natal athlete to cross the line.
James said the prize monies are very competitive‚ with the prize pool totalling R4.47m.
“The Comrades always likes to be at the forefront of ensuring that the racers have as much prize money as they can.
"We need to make sure that it's economically and financially viable‚ so we put it up each year.
"For next year‚ it's gone up by five percent from last year‚” James said.
“The total prize purse makes the race the richest in South Africa and the continent.
"The third prize at the prestigious Chicago Marathon doesn't match the Comrades first prize. You also have to take into consideration the exchange rate.”