Durban: 260514 20 year old Cade Pillay is the youngest runner of the Comrades Marathon 2014 Piture: Gcina Ndwalane

Durban - Twenty-year-old Durban athlete Cade Pillay will bid to become the youngest finisher in the 2014 Comrades Marathon when he lines up at the start in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.

The third-year environmental science student, who studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, is fresh out of his teens and looking forward to the prospect of taking on one of the world's largest ultra-marathons.

“It's my first year and I'm very excited, but at the same time I'm also a little stressed as the race comes in the middle of my exams,” he said on Friday.

“But this is something I want to do. It's been one of my goals from the time I started doing road running six years ago.”

Pillay, who represents the Woodview Athletic Club, is targeting a sub-nine hour time in the 89th edition of the race.

He draws inspiration from his mother, who will be running her sixth race, he said.

“It takes a lot of sacrifice to get here. My parents have encouraged me all the way and I'm looking forward to celebrating with them Sunday.”

Robert Bezuidenhout was expected to be the oldest runner in the race, at the age of 81, when he was among the 21 000-plus entrants that signed up.

However, the veteran Gauteng runner was hampered by knee problems during the qualifying period and failed to meet the required time to compete.

He has, however, still travelled down to KwaZulu-Natal to enjoy the race as a spectator.

“I'm here, I've come out to enjoy myself and support the others,” Bezuidenhout said.

“Hopefully, I'll be back next year to run.”

The oldest female among the 17 206 that have registered so far, is 71-year-old Hildagonda Brewer, also from the Highveld, while the youngest women in the field will be Catherine Pillay, also 20.

This year's race is classed as a 'down-run' as it starts in Pietermaritzburg and ends in Durban.

The total distance is 89.28 kilometres.