After having been without Comrades for the last two years because of the dreaded Covid pandemic, the thought that Comrades is going to be back this year is exciting and I am certain that I am not the only person feeling this way. It’s s just over 190 days to race day and you would be amazed at how fast those 190 days will pass.

I was at the launch of Comrades 2022 this week and it was confirmed that the distance and route for this year will be the same as it was for the 2018 race.   90,2km starting at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall and finishing at Moses Mabida Stadium in Durban with the usual 6 cut off’s on the route. The exact cut off points haven’t been announced yet but almost certain they’ll be pretty much the same as they were in 2018 so plan your race on that until we know for sure.

Entries will be capped at 15,000 in terms of National Legislation (and not Comrades rules) and the first window period of entries opens on the 23rd of March and close on the 31st of March.  The first window entry period is for those who successfully entered for the 2020 race which was cancelled.

My guess is that just as we have seen previously, there will be a mad rush of entries in that first window period and if history is anything to go by, entries will be sold out within a day or two and then the complaints will begin by those who missed the deadline.

If you enter, you need to be fully vaccinated and you need to upload your vaccination certificate by the 12th of July.  This doesn’t apply to the need for booster shots.

Comrades has made it clear. No vaccination certificate means no race. I don’t know what the situation is if the reason for not having had a vaccination is valid. Comrades hasn’t made that clear but I’m certain they’ll have to.

The race will have “batch wave starts” and for the first time ever will be timed on a mat-to-mat basis rather than a gun to gun basis as it always has been.

The entry substitution process will be during the whole month of June and the window period to withdraw is the 1st to the 14th of June and the Window period to secure a sub entry is from the 17th to the 30th of June.

Substitution open to all (Local & Foreign) runners and an Admin Fee of 15% of the entry fee will be deducted by the CMA from the withdrawing  athlete. The CMA will then refund the withdrawing athlete 85%    of their entry fee. There will be no money or voucher exchange between athletes.

The usual Substitution Admin Fee of R200 will NOT apply this year and the sub athlete will pay the 2022 entry fee price.

I hope the substitution rule is clear. If you miss the deadline for entries, don’t stop your training because there is always the possibility that you are able to get a substitution entry in June.

An exciting prospect is the special 95th commemorative medal that will go to all finishers as well as the special design T shirt. We haven’t seen either the medal or the T Shirt and we’ll have to wait a while to see those but I’m told the wait will be worthwhile.

I don’t know about anyone else at the launch but I could feel Comrades in the air and I have always been able to smell it as we get closer to the big day. Now I know that at this stage we are nowhere near close to the big day, given the change of race date to the end of August but having missed it for the last two years I can already smell Comrades in the air.

Call me strange if you wish but Comrades 2022 will be the 63rd race I will be attending – my first one in 1956 and since then I have missed only 3 deliberately and I am counting the centenary celebrations at Comrades House in May as a Comrades although there may be some who would argue that. Be that as it may, that day in May at Comrades House felt very much like Comrades but if you want me to take that off my tally, I’ll do so reluctantly.

Anyway, what I was trying to say is that after all those Comrades, where 62 or 63 doesn’t matter a lot, to “smell” Comrades even this far in advance of the race, I would suggest is normal and if you were to ask any of the “old runners” they will understand what I am talking about.

Firstly, I am delighted that I have seen nothing anywhere either as complaints or compliments that the race is now at the end of August and that from now on it will be held in August ever year and well done to Comrades for explaining the reasons so well and so thoroughly.  This does alter training schedules though and in a recent article by Bruce Fordyce, he suggested that “April should become the new January” as far as starting proper Comrades training is concerned.  That said, I am sure that many runners will get it wrong and will either over train or under train and get to the start under prepared.  Listen to what Bruce says, He’s run a couple of these races so he has a fairly good idea of what he’s talking about!!!!!!

I’ve made quite a lot of comment about training programmes and especially race day schedules and I have made the point that the person who knows your body best is you.  Certainly not some person in a magazine who has never met you and this has never been more the case than with the different training dates we face this year and remember that if you are living and training inland in South Africa, the bulk of your main training for the end of August will be in the middle of winter and if you are not able to go out and train when the temperatures warm up, you are going to be training in pretty cold temperatures.

Many of you will be looking for either a training partner (or group of runners with whom to train) or an individual coach.  I have no problem with that and in fact in my running days I did that all the time but I never changed my training partners. That’s a disaster. Find the right person or group early in the year and stick with that person or group. If you find that you need to change, you should do it early when you still have enough time and not leave it until the last minute.

Shoes, energy supplements and clothing must also be sorted out early in the training year. I have actually seen runners buying new shoes at Expo that they intend wearing in Comrades in the next day or two.  Can you believe it?

If you live in KZN and near the route you will most certainly have trained over at least parts of it.  If you live far from the course, you may only have seen the route profile and that is enough to frighten even the bravest individual. 

Simply put, I don’t believe that you can learn about 90km of tough terrain drawn on an A5 page of paper – but hey, that’s what I think. Go over the route at least once before race day – and remember if this is your first Down Run but you have run and completed Comrades on an Up Run. You are still a novice. The two races are very different.

On the question of race day schedules – my advice is do you own! Nobody knows your body better that you do. Nobody knows what your body can do better than you. How many times have I heard a runner who climbed on the 11 hour “bus” say “I could have done better but I ran slower being in the “Bus”. Sorry about that now”.

If you do your own race day schedule, be conservative and set times you know you can achieve and give yourself a 15 minute “window” to reach a certain point on your schedule.  If you don’t do that and you find yourself even 5 minutes slower, the result is instant panic when you don’t need to panic if you are still in your 15 minute “window”.

The same applies at the other end if you are running too fast. You can easily “blow” your entire race by misjudging your times and going too fast.

The bad news is that in terms of Covid regulations, the field size has had to be capped at 15,000 – down from the 25,000 the last time we had entries open for Comrades a few years ago so I expect that we will have a mad rush for entries. Entries open on the 23rd of March and close on the 31st of March for the first “window” period. This will be for those who entered towards the end of 2019 for the 2020 Comrades that was cancelled but which race organisers said they would carry entries across to 2021 – which was also cancelled so they’ve carried them across again to Comrades 2022.

The problem comes in where the demand for entries from the 2020 race exceeds the cap of 15,000 for the 2022 race. Any over and above the 15,000 simply won’t be accepted and this won’t be a rule of the Comrades organisers but will be a national rule because of Covid.

So the only answer? Get your entry in as soon as you can to avoid the disappointment of a rejected entry.

The second “window” period of entries assuming the 15,000 isn’t reached by the time the 31st of March is reached (and that’s somewhat unlikely I think) is for those who didn’t enter for the 2020 race towards the end of 2019.

The second window period if it’s necessary is from 20th April to 16th May 2022.

Entries will only be accepted via online entries and postal and hand delivered entries will not be accepted.

So those are the early notes on Comrades 2022. Keep watch for further news from Comrades House on what will be happening on the 28th of August and get those running shoes on, get your qualifying marathon done and get your entry in as soon as they open on and you can make changes to your entry until the 12th of July. The important thing is to get that entry in and get it in as soon as entries open on the 23rd of March.

Remember.  Don’t post your entry or hand deliver it as it won’t be accepted.

18 FEBRUARY 2022

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