Comrades marathon 2009: A Preview

Just 5 days to go for the 84th edition of this ultramarathon, which will be run on a Sunday (unlike past traditions), May 24th. This years run is an 89KM ‘down’ run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. The cutoff time for the race will be 12:00 hours, which means that the race starts at 5:30 am and any runners still running beyond 5:30 pm are on their own.

Defending champion Leonid Shvetsov of Russia will be there again, looking to break his down run record. He owns both the up run (2008) and down run (2007) records.

Participation numbers: 12,890 runners from 47 countries. This includes 590 international runners, and the rest from South Africa. 2404 runners will be running Comrades for the first time.

For the first time ever, live coverage from the finish line will be available on the event website at Finish Line Live Footage. I can see the footage today (day before race) and its already evening and the stadium no longer resembles a cricket ground on which the matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket happened just a few days back!

There is a special SMS service for runners to track their progress as they cross the 5 timing mats on the route. An SMS message will be sent to the specified number indicating the time when the runner reached the specific point. Users will also be able to follow their runner by entering the running number of the person at the Track Your Runner page, and see the live status.

Top Contenders (Mens):

  • Leonid Shvetsov (Nedbank)
  • White Modisenyane (Nedbank)
  • Gift Kelehe (Nedbank)
  • Joseph Maerman (Nedbank)
  • Harmans Mokgadi (1st SA runner home in 2008) (Nedbank)
  • Lucas Nonyana (Nedbank)
  • Frans Kutu (Nedbank)
  • Jaroslaw Janicki, former champion from Poland (Mr Price)
  • Fusi Nhlapo (Mr Price)
  • Sipho Ngomane (Mr Price)
  • Butiki Jantjes (Mr Price)

Top Contenders (Womens):

  • Twins Elena and Olesya Nurgalieva (Mr Price)
  • Marina Bychkova (Mr Price)
  • Lindsay Van Aswegan (SA) (Nedbank)
  • Farwa Mentoor (Bonitas)

Weather outlook looks to be good, with temperatures peaking at 24 degree celcius, and there may be some cloud cover in the afternoon.

Hear Coach Norrie Williamson’s podcasts at The Witness website. Useful information on eating, hydration, tapering, strategies, avoiding injuries, etc.

Want to calculate your Comrades finish time, check out

Want to take a Comrades quiz, check out


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