The Comrades was run for the first time on 24 May 1921 (Empire Day), and with the exception of a break during World War II, has been run every year since. In 2020 it will be the 95th edition of the race with the longest history of road ultra-running. The race was the idea of World War I veteran Vic Clapham, to commemorate the South African soldiers killed during the war.
The Comrades Marathon is 90 km (approx. 56 miles) and is run annually in the Kwazulu-Natal Province of South Africa between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. It is the world’s largest and oldest ultramarathon race. The direction of the race alternates each year between the “up” run (87 km) starting from Durban and the “down” run (90 km) starting from Pietermaritzburg. Runners over the age of 20 qualify when they are able to complete an officially recognized marathon (42.2 km) in less than four hours fifty minutes (4:50h). During the event an athlete must also reach six cut-off points in specified times to complete the race. The field is capped at 27,500 runners, and entrants hail from more than 82 countries.
Getting an IAU Gold Label is another milestone in the history of this race and great step forward in further development of ultra-running in Africa.
“We are honored that the IAU is bestowing the esteemed Gold Label status on the 90km Comrades Marathon. In as much as the Comrades Marathon enjoys its position on the world stage as the biggest, oldest and most famous ultramarathon with over 16,000 finishers, it is accolades like this from the IAU that is a reminder of how ultra-marathon road running has grown, evolved and become so much more professionalized; and it is all thanks to the thousands of men and women who are committed to the success of The Ultimate Human Race. We are very grateful,” says a delighted Rowyn James, the Race Director on getting the IAU Gold Label for this event as well as Nadeem Khan the IAU President on this occasion.
"We are delighted that Comrades Marathon has received the IAU Gold Label. As the longest running and the biggest ultramarathon in the world Comrades is synonymous with sport of ultrarunning. IAU and Comrades are both global brands that continue to serve the ultrarunning community internationally. I am very delighted to see this partnership emerge and to continue for many years to come." - says IAU President, Nadeem Khan.
This IAU development is also another solid step towards connecting and solidifying the ultra-running community across the world.
You can read more about this at the Comrades Marathon press release here
IAU Director of Communication