Comrades Marathon: a most unAmerican event (and that is good!)

Workout notes untimed 3 mile run; I didn’t feel as loose and easy as I had hoped. That sometimes happens during a taper.
Then weights (reduced):

rotator cuff exercises
3 sets of 10 pull ups (easy)
incline bench: 10 x 135, 8 x 145, 10 x 135
military press (standing) 2 sets of 10 x 40 (dumbbell)
military press (machine) 1 set of 10 x 100 (each arm; 200 total)
rows: 2 sets of 10 x 110.

That’s it.

Comrades Marathon: this marathon is about 56 miles (depending on the route and year) and a friend has run this twice, and finished it. His report is well written and very fun to read. But this race; well, its rules, which I have deep respect for, wouldn’t play in the United States:

While the course is challenging, that’s not the only reason this is a difficult race. It has a hard 12 hour time limit. When I say hard, I mean 12 hours after the start, the gun goes off and they block the finish line. Nobody else gets to cross the line, much less get an official time. The cutoffs are based on “gun” times (your time from when the gun when off at the start of the race). All runners wear timing chips, but it doesn’t matter when you crossed the starting line. The clock is already running. Runners in the last corral may take as much as 10 minutes to reach the starting line. A cruel reality is that the runners losing the most time are the ones that can least afford it.

To finish the course in 12 hours, you need to average roughly eight minutes per kilometer (or 12:52 per mile). While that’s not a fast pace, you need to maintain it for 12 hours on a hilly course. It’s not unusual for temperatures to get hot in the afternoon. That many hours running in the heat can wear you down. Also, for most of the runners, this is the farthest they’ve ever run.

There are six types of medals you can win, depending on your pace and how high you finish. The top 10 men and women receive gold medals. Other runners finishing within six hours receive Wally Hayward awards, named after a five time winner of the race. The next major cutoff time is 7:30. All other runners beating that time get silver medals. The fourth type of medal is the Bill Rowan medal, named after the winner of the 1921 race. To earn a Bill Rowan medal, you have to finish in nine hours.

Prior to 2003, the final cutoff time was 11 hours. Runners finishing between nine and 11 hours received bronze medals. Since then, the cutoff time has been increased by an hour, making the race accessible to more runners. To receive a bronze medal, however, you still need to finish within 11 hours. Runners finishing between 11 and 12 hours get Vic Clapham medals, named after the founder of the race. […]

As the 12 hour cutoff approached, there was much more drama. The 12 hour bus (pace group) was so big that it took several minutes for them all to stream by.

There were quite a few runners close behind them who still made the cutoff. With 30 seconds to go, we all counted down. As the countdown begins, you realize which runners have time to finish and which ones don’t. Soon they realize it too. This was the look of disappointment when these runners realized that they were only 100 meters away but wouldn’t finish.

When the final gun goes off, the race officials immediately block the finish line. Runners still making their way around the track aren’t allowed to cross the line. Runners are still coming into the stadium, but none of them will finish. Runners who just made the cutoff are exuberant. Runners who just missed are heartbroken. They’ve been out there for 12 hours. They ran 54.5 miles. They didn’t finish.

One one hand, I envy a race like that and have deep respect for those who would try to finish such a race. I also envy that aspect of the culture which permits them to run the race in that manner. It is refreshing to see something that isn’t this “everyone is a winner” BS.

On the other hand, can you imagine that being done in the United States? There would be tears, angry denouncements in the softer running media…probably even lawsuits. 🙂


June 3, 2015 - Posted by | blogs, running, walking |

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