The Comrades Marathon is an 89km ultramarathon in South Africa which has grown to become one of the most famous races of its kind in the world.
First established in 1921 to commemorate soldiers killed during World War I, it is based in the KwaZulu-Natal region on the east South African coast, with runners racing between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
Date, start time & live tracking
The 2023 Comrades Marathon will take place on Sunday June 11, starting at 5:30 (all local time).
The race has a final cut-off time of 12 hours, meaning those who do not reach the finish by 17:30 will not be considered finishers.
In addition to the overall cut-off time, there are a number of cut-off times along the race. These are at Cato Ridge (10:00), Drummond (11:40), Winston Park (13:40), Pinetown (14:50) and Sherwood (16:30).
Live tracking for the Comrades Marathon is available HERE.
Runners and spectators are also encouraged to download the official Comrades Marathon App – available via the Google Play and Apple App Store – which also features live tracking and participant times, paces, estimates, and places in real-time.
Comrades Marathon route
The Comrades Marathon has one route, with the start and finish alternating ever year. The ‘down’ route takes runners from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, while the ‘up’ route does the reverse.
The 2023 Comrades Marathon is a down route year, with an official race distance of 87.7km.
Starting (or finishing) at the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg and finishing (or starting) at Kingsmead Stadium Cricket Ground in Durban, runners will go along a route which features five key hills- in order from Pietermaritzburg, these are Polly Shortts, Inchanga, Botha’s, Fields and Cowies.
The highest point on the race is 870m above sea level at the Umlaas Road interchange.
There are 42 ‘well stocked’ refreshment stations along the route.
How to qualify for the Comrades Marathon
2023 entries to the Comrades Marathon are now closed, but more information about 2024 entry will be available soon HERE.
There are a number of restrictions for Comrades Marathon entrants;
- Athletes must be 20 years or older on the day of the race
- There is a maximum of 20,000 entrants.
- For South African entrants, the Comrades Marathon is restricted to club registered runners only who must have an up to date provincial licence number
- Athletes need to have run at least one qualifying race between a set qualifying period. Here are the distances and the minimum time requirements for entry:
Comrades Marathon Facts, Tips and FAQs
Prize money is on offer for the first ten places in both the men’s and women’s race, the winners getting R500,000 (over £20,200).
There is also prize money on offer for a number of age groups, the best running clubs, the best South African and the best KwaZulu-Natal athlete.
Should the winners break the original record for the route they are racing that year, they receive an additional R500,000
Runners qualify for different awards depending on their overall position and times:
Gold: First ten men and women
Wally Hayward award (Men)/ Isavel-Roche Kelly award (Women): Position 11 to sub 6:00/ Position 11 to sub 7hrs 30min
Silver (Men Only): 6:00-7:30
Bill Rowan: 7:30-9:00
Robert Mtshali: 9:00-10:00
Vic Clapham: 11:00-12:00
Comrade Marathon past winners and records
There are separate records for the ‘down’ and ‘up’ routes.
The Comrade Marathon down route records are:
Men: David Gatebe, 05:18:19 (2016)
Women: Frith Van der Merwe 05:54:43 (1989)
The Comrade Marathon up route records are:
Men: Leonid Shvetsov, 5.24.39 (2008)
Women: Gerda Steyn, 5.58.53 (2019)
Previous winners (last 20 years):
2002 – Men: Vladimir Kotov (Russia) 5:25:33. Women: Elena Nurgalieva (Russia) 6:33:18
2003 – Men: Fusi Nhlapo (South Africa) 5:31:15. Women: Tatyana Zhirkova (Russia) 6:30:27
2004 – Men: Vladimir Kotov (Russia) 5:25:33. Women: Tatyana Zhirkova (Russia) 6:35:53
2005 – Men: Sipho Ngomane (South Africa) 5:27:42. Women: Elena Nurgalieva (Russia) 6:39:56
2006 – Men: Vladimir Kotov (Russia) 5:25:33. Women: Olesya Nurgalieva (Russia) 6:37:35
2007 – Men: Leonid Shvetsov (Russia) 5:20:49. Women: Olesya Nurgalieva (Russia) 6:12:04
2008 – Men: Leonid Shvetsov (Russia) 5:24:47. Women: Tatyana Zhirkova (Russia) 6:33:25
2009 – Men: Stephen Muzhingi (Zimbabwe) 5:23:27. Women: Olesya Nurgalieva (Russia) 6:12:13
2010 – Men: Stephen Muzhingi (Zimbabwe) 5:29:01. Women: Elena Nurgalieva (Russia) 6:13:00
2011 – Men: Stephen Muzhingi (Zimbabwe) 5:32:45. Women: Elena Nurgalieva (Russia) 6:15:25
2012 – Men: Ludwick Mamabolo (South Africa) 5:31:03. Women: Elena Nurgalieva (Russia) 6:08:35
2013 – Men: Claude Moshiywa (South Africa) 5:32:09. Women: Elena Nurgalieva (Russia) 6:27:08
2014 – Men: Bongmusa Mthembu (South Africa) 5:28:34. Women: Elena Nurgalieva (Russia) 6:24:11
2015 – Men: Gift Kelehe (South Africa) 5:38:36. Women: Caroline Wöstmann (South Africa) 6:12:22
2016 – Men: David Gatebe (South Africa) 5:18:19. Women: Charne Bosman (South Africa) 6:25:55
2017 – Men: Bongmusa Mthembu (South Africa) 5:35:34. Women: Camille Herron (United States) 6:27:35
2018 – Men: Bongmusa Mthembu (South Africa) 5:26:35. Women: Ann Ashworth (South Africa) 6:10:04
2019 – Men: Edward Mothibi (South Africa) 5:31:33. Women: Gerda Steyn (South Africa) 5:58:53
2020 – Cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
2021 – Cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
2022 – Men: Tete Dijana (South Africa) 5:30:38. Women: Alexandra Morozova (Russia) 6:17:48
Comrade Marathon kit list
There is little mandatory kit, but the following instructions can be found in the ‘Final Race Instructions and Info’ guide:
- Athletes must wear their club colours, as officially registered with their provincial federation
- The two Official 2023 Comrades Marathon race numbers must be worn on the front and back of your upper body garment throughout the race.
- Failure to comply with this rule will result in disqualification.