20 Fun Facts About The 2019 Comrades Marathon

This year marks the 94th running of the Comrades Marathon. Brush up on your knowledge as we cruise towards race-day.


RW Editors |

1. The first Comrades Marathon was run on Empire Day 24 May 1921, when 34 runners lined up before the Pietermaritzburg City Hall to commence a race to Durban to commemorate the spirit and camaraderie of the soldiers who fought in the Great War. It owes its origins to the tireless efforts of its founder Vic Clapham (war veteran & SA Railways engine driver) whose vision it was to create a living memorial to the spirit of his “comrades” who suffered so greatly in the war.

The first race was run on old dust roads, with the runners having to pass through several gates and at least one stream. It was won by Bill Rowan, a 26-year old Transvaal farmer in a time of 8:59, which would be the slowest winning time in the history of the race. There were 16 official finishers of the first race.

The 2019 Comrades Marathon will be run on Sunday, 9 June 2019, starting at 05h30 at the Durban City Hall, and finishing at 17h30 at the Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg. It will be the 94th running of the world famous event.

2. Comrades traditions:

Over the years the race has evolved its own set of traditions. Since its inception in 1921, the Comrades Marathon has officially started with the firing of a gun by either the Mayor of Durban or Pietermaritzburg, depending on the start venue, while his/her counterpart of the finish city welcomes the winner and receives an official letter of greeting, which is exchanged between the 2 cities annually.

The strains of Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire has become associated with both the start and finish of the race, while Max Trimborn’s “cockcrow”, and more recently the runners own spontaneous rendition of Shosholoza is a sure signal to runners that the race is soon to begin.At the finish, the Chairperson of the Comrades Marathon Association fires a gun to designate the 12-hour cut-off of the race. Other officials and/or celebrities fire the guns to designate the cut-off times for the various medals. Immediately following the final cut-off gun at 17h30, a lone bugler plays The Last Post to signify the culmination of a very long day.

3. This year’s Up Run is 86.83km.

4. The winners of this year’s race will walk/run away with R500,000 each. Should they break the record, they will receive a further R500,000.

5. This year, there are 17,268 men and 4,357 women tackling the 2019 Comrades Marathon. This brings the total number of runners to 21,625.

6. Refreshment statistics to blow your mind!

Coke: 30,350 litres
Fanta / Crème Soda: 10,650 litres
Coke paper cups (175ml): 430,000
Thirsti Water sachets: 2 million
Energy drink sachets: 480,000
Mageu Number 1: 32,640 sachets
Bananas: 9 tons
Oranges: 4.5 tons
Energy biscuits: 500 kg
Salticrax biscuits: 500 kg
Racefood energy bars: 20,000
Cooked potatoes: 1.5 tons

7. South African runners dominate the field with 15,835 men and 3,982 women taking part.

8. Comrades will be welcoming 1,808 international runners

9. The most common language spoken by the runners is firstly English (10,525), followed by isiZulu (3,069), Afrikaans (2,687) and Northern Sotho (1,123).

10. These are the top 10 most represented countries:

Country, Total, Male, Female

South Africa: 19 817, 15 835, 3982
United Kingdom: 321, 252, 69
India: 210, 192, 18
Zimbabwe: 204, 165, 39
Brazil: 189, 154, 35
USA: 167, 108, 59
Australia: 139, 97, 42
Botswana: 70, 61, 9
Russia: 64, 51, 13
Swaziland: 63, 49, 14

Zoon Cronje

11. These are the 5 most common surnames of runners in 2019:Dlamini: 119
Ndlovu: 118
Khumalo: 88
Mthembu: 78
Mkhize: 77

12. The most interesting careers include one mayor, three auctioneers, six radio presenters, nine postmen, 16 air traffic controllers, 32 pilots, 66 metallurgists, 161 farmers and 436 doctors.

13. The oldest male runner was born in 1939, his name is Alf Burgess and he will be turning 80 next week.

14. The oldest female runner is 70-year-old Rosina Sebati, born in 1948.

15. The youngest runners are 20-year-old runners Ross Holland and Diana Riordan, both born in 1998.

16. Here is the age category breakdown for 2019:

Age, Number
20-24: 171
25-29: 1138
30-34: 3288
35-39: 5234
40-44: 5389
45-49: 4111
50-54: 2677
55-59: 1500
60-64: 763
65-69: 230
70-74: 60
75-79: 11
80-84: 2

17. The largest club is Team Vitality (Central Gauteng) with 877 runners, followed by Team Vitality (Athletics Gauteng Central with 380 runners and in third, Run Zone AC with 278 runners.

18. The most popular shoe chosen by runners in 2019 is Asics (9056), followed by Nike (4953), New Balance (3020) and adidas (2866).

19. Runners Barry Holland and Louis Massyn will both be running their 47th consecutive Comrades Marathons. They currently hold the most Comrades finishes in history.

20. The best Up Run times:

Male: Leonid Shvetsov (Russia) 2008, 5:24:49
Female: Elena Nurgalieva (Russia) 2006, 6:09:24

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