JOHANNESBURG - The iconic Comrades Marathon is set for an equally epic finish in 2018 after the Moses Mabhida Stadium was announced as the new final destination for the biennial ‘down run’.
A slight change in the route, which still needs to be measured, will see thousands of road-runners enter the stadium through the aptly named vomitory.
This was among the changes the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) announced at the annual media launch of the 93rd edition of The Ultimate Human Race.
Comrades Marathon race director Rowyn James said the route would effectively be the same as in 2016 with the exception of the final eight kilometres.
“Comrades is an iconic brand and Moses Mabhida is an iconic brand in its own right in Durban so it just makes sense to marry the two brands together,” James said.
“Secondly, there are various aspects we as event organisers need to adhere to, Moses Mabhida as a world-class stadium allows for that whereas some of the areas at Kingsmead don’t allow for that.”
James said one option was to stay on the existing route and past Kingsmead en route to Moses Mabhida it could add approximately another two kilometres to the distance.
The race, scheduled for Sunday, June 10 will start at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall at 5:30 and ends 12 hours later at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Among the changes for next year’s race is the formal introduction of a professional category seeding batch for men with a marathon time less than two hours, 30 minutes and a sub-3 hour time for women.
James said it was a matter of giving professional athletes an equal advantage with the new category not only benefiting runners from pro teams.
“Any athlete that might run for, let’s say, one of the recreational clubs, if they run a sub-2:30 for the men or sub-3 hour for the women then they have the option of their own warm up area at the start of the race and they would be able to be at the front,” James said.
“It allows them to get away quicker, calmer and clearer from the start without them having to worry about the surging mass from behind.”
Comrades Marathon 2017 winner Bongmusa Mthembu said he would start his preparations for next year’s race and would include a final race at the 2018 Two Oceans.
“I’ve rested for two weeks where I didn’t do anything, then after that I did recovery training even now I don’t run more than 150km per week,” Mthembu said.
“I will only do Two Oceans just to see how my preparation is going for Comrades but other than that I may go to other races if I am lucky enough to get invitations.”
The 2015 Comrades Marathon women’s winner Caroline Wöstmann made an appearance at the launch assuring she would be ready for next year’s race.
Wöstmann withdrew from last year's race due to a glute injury and has been taking a cautious approach to her recovery and her return to the road.
“I was thinking maybe as a warm-up for Comrades I will run Two Oceans but that is probably all I will be focussing on and the rest would just be training,” Wöstmann said.
“I haven’t gone into any long stuff yet, we decided that we have time and there is no point in rushing into big mileage and going into the new year exhausted.”
Entries for the 2018 Comrades Marathon will open on September 1 with the entry window closing on November 30 or as soon as the entry cap of 20 000 has been reached.
Qualifying for the 2018 Comrades Marathon has opened on August 27 with the window closing on May 2, 2018.
The CMA stressed that the 2017 Comrades Marathon will not be an automatic qualifier for next year’s race.
Instead, the qualifying criteria for next year’s Comrades Marathon will be to complete a standard 42.2km marathon in under 5 hours.