August 19, 2016 by DAVE JACK
The Comrades Marathon Association held the launch of Comrades 2017 on the 18th of August 2016 and themarathon.co was there to share in the excitement of it all, but was it excitement? I certainly think it was.
I think the Exco has put a lot of thought into giving its customers – you the runner – a product that is once again, going to live up to its name of being the greatest ultra marathon in the world and it can’t be easy to continually come up with innovations and changes and to do that year after year. So in my book, well done to CMA. There really wasn’t anything that I heard at the launch that I could fault.
So let’s look at the main items that were raised.
Every year CMA has a slogan for the year that is unique to that particular year and 2017 is going to be no different and the slogan for 2017 is simply:
IT TAKES ALL OF YOU – ZINIKELE
But what does “it takes all of you” mean? I think those who have run Comrades will know. It takes all your courage, all your commitment, all your dedication, all your discipline and a lot more.
If you don’t give “all of you” you can expect a long and painful day. That’s the message.
Having run my fair share of Comrades I can relate completely to the slogan for 2017. Give Comrades “all of you” and you’ll have a good day.
It was then the turn of Race Director Rowyn James to take to the podium to tell us the changes and innovations for next year.
Firstly he confirmed that the race will definitely be held on Sunday 4th June 2017 and that from 2018 it will be held on the second Sunday of June every year.
The reason for this move from 2018 is that Comrades depends heavily on the various services in Pietermaritzburg and at the end on May there are four major events in Pietermaritzburg and the city simply does not have the infrastructure to handle all four. Comrades having been run on 16th of June for several years has shown that it can be run on the second Sunday of June when the various services in the city can give full attention to Comrades hence the decision to secure the services for Comrades alone and not to have to “share” with other events to the detriment of the runners.
The big news is the change of venue for the Up Run next year and Comrades 2017 will move away from Alexandra Park to Scottsville Race Course. What does this mean to the runner?
Alexandra Park can be considered as “quaint” but it long ago outgrew itself and it now hosts Comrades with difficulty and the time for a move is probably overdue. So what are the benefits of a move to Scottsville?
Firstly it shortens the distance of the race. The UNOFFICIAL distance (and I stress this is the unofficial distance until it is properly measured) is 87.5km which is about 200 meters shorter than the last Up Run in 2015.
Let’s look at other advantages of moving to Scottsville. There’s access to the N3 firstly. Scottsville is no more than around 1Km or a tiny bit more to the N3 whereas Alexandra Park was very close to the centre of Pietermaritzburg and a nightmare to get in and out of on race day.
There is considerably more parking at the racecourse and large numbers of vehicles are catered for on a very regular basis.
Catering and ablution infrastructures are very much better with the facilities in place for the race course and with the hotel and casino on the premises.
These are just a few of the more obvious benefits of the move to Scottsville. Runners who took part in the millennium race in 2000 will remember that the race ended there and there was very little fuss with over 20,000 runners that year.
ENTRY LIMIT and ENTRY PERIOD
As has been the case for the last few years, entries will be capped at 20,000 and will open on 1st September 2016 and close on 30th November OR when the cap of 20,000 has been reached.
Early bird (Sept only) – R420
Normal SA entry – R460
Rest of Africa – R770
International – R2650
ENTRY SUBSTITUTION PERIOD
14TH March 2017 to 14th April 2017. In 2016 it was for a period of 3 weeks whereas it’s a full month for the 2017 Comrades.
Any qualifying distance as stipulated by Comrades Marathon Association (see their website www.comrades.com) from 27 August 2016 to 1 May 2017
LICENCE No. AND CLUB CHANGES
These can be done online until 2nd May 2017
GOLD MEDAL PRIZE MONEY (EQUAL FOR MEN AND WOMEN)
1ST – R425,000
2ND – R210,000
3RD – R160,000
4TH – R 80,000
5TH – R 65,000
6TH – R 36,000
7TH – R 32,000
8TH – R 28,000
9TH – R 24,000
10TH – R 20,000
UP RUN RECORD
These currently stand at:
Men: 5:24:07 Leonid Shvetsov (2007)
Women: 6:09:24 Elena Nurgalieva (2006)
HOT SPOT CASH PRIZES
Hot spot cash prizes previously awarded to runners first reaching certain points on the route have been removed as it is felt these are actually destructive to the race and serve no useful purpose at all and I couldn’t agree more with this decision. This money is being used in other areas of prize money.
ELITE TEAM TROPHY & GUNGA DIN TROPHY
From 2017 an Elite Team Trophy and prize will be introduced for the professional teams and the Gunga Din Team Trophy will revert to being a competition to be contested by the amateur teams and the Elite teams will not qualify for the Gunga Din (shown below).
Whilst the final rules are not 100% clear it appears that the Elite teams will have to submit the names of their members prior to Comrades and they will then be regarded as one or the other.
I spoke to Dana Coetzee of KPMG, Nick Bester of Nedbank and John Hamlett of Tom-Tom at the launch and all three of the coaches/managers of these three leading elite clubs welcomed this as long overdue and I feel sure that the top amateur clubs will feel the same way. So well done to Comrades on this!
So, after having been to the launch of Comrades 2017, I can’t wait for the 4th of June 2017 to get here and to be at my 59th Comrades Marathon – but hey it is after all something of a passion for me!