David Gatebe winner of the 2016 Comrades Marathon. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
With less than a month to go before the 92nd edition of the Comrades Marathon, the scene in Pietermaritzburg is fast approaching readiness for the world's greatest ultra marathon.
There is a slight change to this year's route, with the finish moving from the the PMB Oval in Alexandra Park, where it has been in recent years.

This year, the anticipated field of nearly 20 000 runners will round off their trek from Durban at Scottsville Racecourse.

The famous horse-racing venue last hosted the finish in 1998 and 2000, and it's slightly closer proximity to Durban means the 2017 edition of the marathon will be a little shorter than past years.

"The officially measured and certified distance is 86.73km," race director Rowyn James has stated.

Much of the route from Durban's City Hall to Pietermaritzburg is the same, but the last few kilometres, beyond the notorious Polly Shortts climb.

Last year's down-run saw David Gatebe break the revised by more than two minutes, setting a terrific pace of 5h, 18 min, 19 seconds.

The women's race was won by Charne Bosman, though Caroline Wostmann is expected to bounce back strongly after suffering terribly in the latter stages of the race, as cramps hit her badly, and she was hauled in by Bosman.

Wostmann recently pulled out of the Two Oceans Marathon with a hamstring injury, but she has now been cleared to defend her 'up-run' crown, and put right what went so terribly wrong last year.

Wostmann's terrible ending last year, even as favourite, again emphasised the enduring physical challenge that the Comrades Marathon remains, even in the modern world of meticulous diets and hydration plans.

The human factor, and its ability to fluctuate, that is the essence of the race, and exactly why no one really knows what will happen on 4 June, 2017.

Independent Media

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