The Comrades Marathon: world’s largest and oldest

When I was in my prime and might have raced it competitively, I didn’t make the time to run the world’s largest and oldest ultramarathon, mainly because I was obsessed with pushing the envelope of endurance and at 56 miles, it wasn’t “enough” for me then. Chalk that up to being young and foolish.


Here’s a look at the Comrades Marathon:
“This is 14,000 champions, 14,000 winners, 14,000 heroes.”

Finally, this June I’ll make my debut at the Comrades Marathon, running from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in the Kwazulu-Natal Province of South Africa.

The race, begun in 1921 by a former infantryman, memorializes World War I soldiers who died in battle. It has continued every year since then, except for four years during WWII. Everyone who’s anyone in long distance running has finished the Comrades Marathon, and I regret not having done it before now. But before, I would have been out there busting my ass to earn a bronze or silver medal, and now I’ll savor the experience and simply work toward finishing before the cut-off of 12 hours. One of the perks of being 60.

Another perk: Go Trail has asked me to give a presentation on desert racing while I’m there. (Comrades won’t be anything like the desert, though, unless you want to compare it to the Gobi, and that’s a bit of a stretch.) We’ll be covering everything from the Badwater Ultramarathon to the incomparable 4 Deserts series, probably with a few tales of Mt. Everest thrown in just to confuse them.

Then my number-one comrade, Heather, and I will vacation in South Africa for a while, reminiscent of our honeymoon trip back in 2003. So, sure, regrets? I’ve had a few. But plenty of second chances, too.

How about you? Are there any “great races” you’re putting off? Why?

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