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Posted: March 4, 2009  :

(RRW) Athletics: No Change In Comrades Route For 2009

From David Monti

© 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

By Riel Hauman

There will be no changes in the route for this year's Comrades Marathon in South Africa. The world's largest and richest ultramarathon will be run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban on May 24, a "down" run and will be held on exactly the same route as the most recent down run in 2007 when Leonid Shvetsov set a new record of 5:20:41, shattering Bruce Fordyce’s 21-year-old record of 5:24:07 set in 1986.

The race alternates direction from year-to-year, producing "up" and "down" versions of the event, and the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has confirmed the distance as 89.3 km.

The Comrades Marathon has seen the implementation of numerous route changes since the race was first run on Thursday, May 24, 1921, with the distance having varied by as much as 5 km from shortest to longest during the course of its history.

On a historical note, according to Comrades Marathon data, the shortest Comrades in recent years was an “up” run in 2002 measured at 86.5 km and won by Vladimir Kotov of Belarus in a time of 5:30:59. The longest was a down run in 1982 measured at 91.4 km and won by Fordyce in a time of 5:34:22.

The earliest Comrades Marathons were run alternately between the City Halls of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, a distance estimated to have been approximately 56 miles. The race was run largely on dirt roads, with the route passing through several gates and crossing at least one stream, while refreshments for the 30–100 competitors were provided by the few hotels situated on the route and supplemented by local farmers.

From year to year, the exact route is subject to the outcome of negotiations conducted between CMA and traffic authorities. In recent years there have been no changes implemented, with the route for the down run having stabilised at approximately 89 km and the route for the up run at approximately 87 km.

Comrades Marathon Race Director Renée Jordaan has confirmed that the organisers will be providing 48 refreshment stations this year to cater for an anticipated 12,000–13,000 participants.

The closing date for entries is March 31.

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