Bonitas Medical Fund, a major sponsor of the ultimate human race, the Comrades Marathon, has worked alongside the official Comrades Coach, Lindsey Parry, to provide the first interactive map of the 87km route, featuring professional advice on what to expect along the way.
Every year, over 16 000 local and international runners tackle the gruelling race – one of the highlights on the athletic calendar – an ultra marathon known as a triumph of camaraderie and determination.
Parry says, ‘No one likes surprises, especially when running an ultra marathon, which is why being able to pace yourself is so important during the race. For this reason, Bonitas have created an interactive route map, under my guidance. It highlights 14 of the highs and lows, where mind and body need to meet in perfect unison.’
Starting with the first hill climb, Tollgate Bridge followed by 45th Cutting, the race takes in the Big 5 – Cowies Hill, Fields Hill, Bothas Hill, Inchanga and Polly Shortts. On the way you pass Arthur’s Seat where Parry reminds ‘you tip your cap in order to get Arthur’s blessing.’ Judging by the unrelenting ascents it might be a good idea to give Arthur an exaggerated bow as well, before continuing!
Runners tackle Inchanga and Umlaas Road, the highest point of the race at 4 700 feet. Parry says, ‘It’s downhill from there (almost)’. But if you go onto the interactive map you will see this is not altogether true… The good news is that there is no hill to steep to walk. Parry actually recommends ‘WALK’ a number of times and cautions against believing the next hill, Little Polly is the real thing.
‘Remember the Comrades is not done until you tackle number 5, Polly Shortts,’ he says, ‘unless you are in danger of missing the cut-off, a medal or finishing the race you will most likely walk the whole of Polly Shortts. Don’t destroy yourself, rather walk and save your legs…it’s a long race.’
If you believe in mental preparation, do what most athletes do: Take yourself through the race, step by step. Especially the bad bits. Because suspecting and knowing is not the same thing.
Click here for a profile of the entire route from Durban to Pietermaritzburg as well as a step by 14 point step on what to look out for.