They call this running event as “Marathon” even if it is actually an Ultra Marathon Race with a distance of 86.96 Kilometers (52 Miles). The race route is on the paved road between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. It is one of the oldest ultra marathon races in the world but at present, it is being dubbed as the world’s largest ultra marathon race whose runners would reach up to 23,000 with cheerers and spectators lined up throughout the course! (With the increasing number of International runners reaching up to almost 2,000, this event promotes Sports Tourism to South Africa!)
This Sunday, May 29, it will be the 86th edition of the race which started as a commemoration of the dead British & South African soldiers who were the casualties during World War I. It was created by a retired British Army Officer to honor his “comrades” who died as heroes during the World War I Campaign in South Africa, hence, it was named as the Comrades Marathon.
If they have the Comrades Marathon in the continent of AFRICA, then we have also the Bataan Death March 102K & 160K Ultra Marathon Races in ASIA. The reason and purpose of the two running events are similar but Bataan Death March attracts more interest due to its historical significance, popularity and involvement of war’s atrocities and heroism of the Filipinos and Americans.
The following link will describe in details the history of the Comrades Marathon from its origin up to its last edition last year.
Due to the popularity of the Comrades Marathon in Europe and USA, I read somewhere and overheard other ultra runners saying that you are finally called as a “full pledged ultra runner” if you have finished the Comrades Marathon within the prescribed cut-off time of 12 hours. It is for this reason that I am already making my travel preparation and training for the next year’s edition of the race! God willing.
In the Philippines, a runner is not a full pledged ultra runner if he/she has not finished the BDM 102K Ultra Marathon Race within the prescribed cut-off time of 18 hours. It is my personal declaration and I will stand by it.
You can browse more about how to join the Comrades Marathon at their website at www.comrades.com.