The route runs between Durban on the Indian Ocean – sea level – to Pietermaritzburg and crosses a terrain which rises and falls several times, reaching almost 900 meters above sea level at one point.
And to make things worse, there is a time limit – argh! You must finish within 12 hours to get a medal and finishing in that time is not a given. Over fifty percent of the runners finish in the last hour and several finish late. Many don’t make it at all.
The race is run in both directions. Sometimes up – Durban to PMB – and sometimes down but don’t kid yourself, even down is no piece of cake. The record times for each are only 5 minutes apart.
In spite of these limitations it has become one of the most popular races going and this year registrations reached a record high of 19,617 for an up run. Approximately 1,300 runners came from overseas. Considering the length and difficulty of the course, and how far South Africa is from the rest of the world, those numbers are impressive.
One of the international entrants was my friend Ritchie Miller from Avalon Church in McDonough, Ga. It was his first Comrades, his longest marathon and his most difficult run ever. He didn’t complete the race in regulation time but the cause he ran for compelled him to make it across the finish line.
He ran to raise money for charity:
- Those supported through his church’s ministry, Avalon Hope
- And the SACRP – South African Children’s Resiliency Project – otherwise known as CRP. The CRP is the brain child of Dr. Robert Graham who is a US citizen and highly qualified but has dedicated himself to the cause of African children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
The neat thing about this race is the route runs right by the CRP orphan village and because roads are closed for the race, the occupants of the village have no choice but to sit beside the road cheering the runners on, and sipping cool drinks of course.
But back to Ritchie. [Read more…]