IT’S COMRADES TIME!!!

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May 5, 2016 by DAVE JACK

THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL COMRADES MARATHON ASSOCIATION PUBLICATION

PLEASE READ THIS BLOG IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE ROUTE DESCRIPTION BLOG WHICH IS THE PREVIOUS BLOG PUBLISHED A WEEK OR SO AGO AS BOTH ARE INTENDED TO ASSIST THE RUNNER IN THE 9 HOUR PLUS GROUP AND PARTICULARLY THE NOVICE GROUP

 

It’s that wonderful time of the year when Comrades is here and if, like me, you have been around Comrades for many years, you can actually smell it in the air. I don’t know what it is but I have been able to smell the race in the air every year for more years than I care to remember and 2016 is exactly 60 years since I first stood at the side of the road as a boy of just 9 in Pinetown and watched “The Marathon” (which is what the good people of KZN used to call it back then) for the first time and since then I have missed the race just three times. Those three times deliberately because I thought I had managed to get it out of my system but I haven’t and I am now aware that as long as I am able to do so I am going to be in KZN to watch this magic that is called the Comrades Marathon every year.

In a few weeks Durban is going to come alive with thousands of runners as they descend on the city to get ready to take on the challenge of a day when the dream of a man long, long ago once again comes to life and these runners set off from the start of Comrades outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall on their way to Kingsmead in Durban for the 91st Comrades seeking the glory of a win whilst for the majority simply the glory of that treasured medal that is given to any runner who gets to the finish in under 12 hours. A medal so small in size but so huge in meaning.

I came across a series of newsletters written by Brian Swart the Convenor of the International Tour Busses for those runners and as I am involved as one of the tour guides on those busses I asked Brian whether I might share some of his points with my followers on this blog as he has some very good points so many thanks to Brian for his advice and here they are and then I added some of my own so hope you find them useful:

 

PREPARATION

Buy a piece of soft to medium sponge. The ideal size is 6 x 4 x 1½ inches. The night before the race, wet it thoroughly and squeeze all the water out. Then, while it is damp, drizzle 10 to 12 drops of your favourite perfume/aftershave all over it and squeeze repeatedly to disperse it throughout. Then leave it overnight. Before you leave for the start on Race Day, tuck it into the waistband of your running shorts. When you pass through the Refreshment Stations during the race, take an extra water sachet and pour/squirt it onto the sponge. You will have a wonderfully fresh smelling sponge to wipe your face with for most of the race.

 

Select your Race Day running gear now and train in it as frequently as you can.

 

 Try to get your bowel to work regularly at night. Although there are hundreds of porta-loos at the start, along the race route and at the finish, you don’t really want to make use of them. It is simply the hygiene factor. So, get things working, now, at night and it shouldn’t worry you on Race Day. Make sure that it works on the Saturday night. You won’t regret it.

 

There are many porta-loos along the route but if you are obliged to use them, it might be a good tactic to carry your own toilet paper in a Ziplock bag… just in case it has all been used.

 

The start in Pietermaritzburg can range from very cold to pleasantly mild (See below). Be prepared; bring an old t-shirt that can be disposed of (to many pairs of thankful hands along the road) when the day warms up. Keep your hands warm with a pair of old, long socks that can be pulled up to above the elbows.

 

A few statistics to think about

 

At Comrades time

The Average Maximum Daytime Temperature is      26°C

The Average Minimum Daytime Temperature is   9°C

The Start in Pietermaritzburg is usually cold to mild and ranges between minus 10 and plus 5°C But remember… it could easily vary either side of these numbers.

 

And finally

It seems to rain at irregular long intervals at Comrades. The weather at this time of the year is, typically, glorious mild to warm winter sunshine. Since the first race in 1921 we have had only 5 wet days.

 

 

REGISTRATION

 

Get your registration process over as soon as you can. Make sure that you have all the required identification documentation to assist in the process being concluded quickly. You may, however, have to exercise patience when registering because the queues can, at times, be fairly long.

 COMRADES EXPO

Enjoy the Comrades Marathon Expo… stroll around and take in the hype… get the adrenaline pumping but don’t spend too much time on your feet there. It can be very tiring and you don’t notice it until later! 

THE NIGHTS BEFORE

The race is on a Sunday. THE FRIDAY NIGHT IS THE NIGHT YOU MUST AIM TO SLEEP WELL. With all the hype and excitement abounding, it is unlikely that you will sleep on the Saturday. It you do sleep on the Saturday night… that’s wonderful. Lucky you! If you can’t sleep, however, just lie still, close your eyes and rest as best you can. Even if you don’t sleep a wink on the Saturday it is unlikely to affect you during the Race.

 

Before turning in to sleep on Saturday night, set your alarm accurately.  SET TWO ALARMS.

 

THE RACE DISTANCE

The race distance this year is approximately 89,2 Kilometres. Break your race into “biteable bites and chewable chunks” Don’t stand at the start and say to yourself “I have to run 89Kms. Rather break it up into distances you know you can handle. For example, run only the 20km from the start to the Highest point. You’ve done 20kms many times in training so no big deal in Comrades. Once you’ve done that then look at the next bit and so on. So don’t do more than 20Km at any stage during Comrades. It’s all in the head after all!   If you are mentally prepared that way, the task will be far easier.

 

THE START 

It is imperative that you take your place on the Start Line early, within the area demarcated for your qualifying batch. Please do not attempt to gain access to a faster batch. The ChampionChip timing mats will be removed 15 minutes after the last runner in the main field has crossed the Start Line. Any runner who has not crossed the mat within this period will be prevented from proceeding further and will deemed a non-starter.

Before you leave for the start of the race on Sunday, make sure you have had sufficient to drink to see you through the first hour, because you might not be able to get a drink at the first 4 or 5 Refreshment Stations. The first Station is situated 4,8 Km from the start and thereafter the distance between Stations ranges from 1,4 to 2,7 Km. Remember… when twenty thousand runners descend on the early Stations… chaos reigns. Do your best to obtain a drink, but be patient and considerate to other runners and the Station staff (who are all volunteers).

 

 

PHYSIOTHERAPY 

Many people will tell you that getting a rub down doesn’t really help plain sore legs. The last thing you want is to stop and waste time on something that doesn’t actually help. If you are in spasm, that’s a different thing altogether but know the difference.

There are 8 physiotherapy/basic medical stations along the route situated between 65 and 9 km from the finish. All the stations are manned by senior physiotherapy students, under the supervision of a qualified physiotherapist, and experienced nurses. (There will not be any Doctors at these stations.)

 

REFRESHMENT STATIONS

These you definitely need and there are 48 stations this year dispensing

Energade, Megaload, Water, Coke, Cream Soda & Fanta Orange, Oranges (cut into segments), Bananas, Biscuits, Energellies and Chocolate. (The early stations, however, will serve only drinks.)

Vaseline and Arnica Ice (for massage) will be available at most stations.

Warm spicy potatoes will be available at a limited number of independent stations at various points along the route.

On average, the stations are 1,8 km apart. The longest distance between stations is 2,7 and the shortest is 1,4.

There are 10 stations that are more than 2 km apart. The other 36 are less than 2 km.

Waste as little time as possible through refreshment stations. Take your drink and keep walking. An average of just two minutes wasted at 30 refreshment stations over the course of the day is an hour that’s gone over the day that you can’t get back.

You can’t do without these refreshment stations but whatever you do, don’t waste time at the drinks stations. Keep moving. Remember that every step you take towards Durban is one less that you have to take.

 

HILLS  

Don’t be fooled into believing that the Down Run has no hills. It has plenty of up hills. In fact the highest point between Pietermaritzburg and Durban is some 21kms after the start!

Manage those hills. There are a few ways to do this rather than aimlessly walking up hills which wastes an enormous amount of time. Here are a few tips.

LOOK AT THE HEELS OF THE RUNNER IN FRONT OF YOU AND FOCUS ON THOSE RATHER THAN THE HILL.

THEN RUN 200 PACES AND THEN WALK 100 AND REPEAT TO THE TOP OF THE HILL.

NEVER LOOK AT THE TOP OF THE HILL

Counting paces may seem silly but it takes your mind completely off the job of climbing the hill

 

THE FINISH

Congratulations! ! !

You have exited the processing tent clutching your Comrades Marathon finisher’s medal. You will either be screaming at the top of your voice or… sobbing your eyes out… but more likely… both.  

Visit the Finish Venue at Kingsmead Stadium in Durban and arrange a specific place where your family/friends should wait for you when you finish the race. They must arrive at the venue early to get as close to the agreed place as possible.

 

 NOW READ CAREFULLY… THIS IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT.

THE FINISH VENUE WILL BE FILLED TO CAPACITY WITH THOUSANDS OF SPECTATORS. IF/WHEN YOUR FAMILY SEES YOU FINISH, THEY MUST REMAIN IN THE AGREED PLACE AND NOT GO LOOKING FOR YOU. WHEN YOU EXIT THE FINISH FUNNEL, YOU MUST GO TO THE AGREED PLACE AND FIND THEM. IF YOU/THEY DEVIATE FROM THIS ARRANGEMENT, EITHER OF YOU COULD GET LOST AND YOU DO NOT WANT TO WANDER AROUND, FOR AN HOUR OR MORE, LOOKING FOR THEM WHEN YOU ARE COLD AND RUN DOWN AFTER NEARLY 90 KMS (OR 10 TO 12 HOURS) ON THE ROAD.

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