Thursday, December 19, 2013

Comrades Marathon - June 2014

Without a doubt, 2014 will be big year for me, in terms of running.  My running plans include Way Too Cool 50k, Los Angeles MarathonAmerican River 50 Mile, and my first Miwok 100k.  I'm excited about those races and I'll be working hard to ensure that I earn my third qualification for the Western States 100, by running Miwok in less than 16 hours.

But WOW, I am just floored by the fact that I just registered for the 89th running of the Comrades Marathon, to be held on June 1, 2014!  With roughly 20,000 runners, Comrades, a ~56 mile (~90k) road race that is run between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, is the largest and oldest ultramarathon in the world.

An quick bit of Comrades history: At the end of World War I, Vic Clapham, a soldier who served in East Africa approached the League of Comrades of the Great War (an organization created to give aid to war-torn families), and proposed the race.  The idea was pushed aside by the League, thinking the distance was too extreme, but Clapham persevered, and in 1921, the first Comrades Marathon was run.  Since then, the race has been run every year, with the exception of a four year span during World War II.  Each year, the race alternates the direction in which the course is run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, being referred to as an "up year" or a "down year".  2014 will be a down year.

As was the case in 1921, Comrades enforces a strict 12-hour cutoff.  The sound of a rooster's crow and the firing of a gun will signify the start of the race at 5:30 AM at the city hall in Pietermaritzburg.  At 5:30 PM, the firing of a gun at the finish line, 56 miles away, on the field of the Kingsmead Cricket Stadium in Durban will signify the finish.  Runners who are unable to cross the finish line within the 12 hour time period will not be recognized (not even as having started the race) and will not be allowed to cross the finish line.

The Comrades Marathon is a major event for the people of South Africa and is rich with history, tradition, and culture.  The race is nationally televised (on nearly every channel, from what I've heard).  Crowds of spectators are drawn to the course from the various cities, towns, and villages along the race route.

I am grateful and extremely excited that I have the opportunity to experience this race and South Africa.  My hotel is booked, I've inquired into the available dates of an African safari, flight plans are in place.  I am ready.  Whenever I go out for a run during the first half of this year, the Comrades finish line will be on my mind.

I've decided to register myself as a charity runner.  Many of the people of South Africa live in poverty and many of its wildlife and natural places are critically threatened.  The US Dollar is strong in Africa and a little money can go a long way, so  I chose to raise money for South Africa's Wildlands Conservation Trust, an organization that strives to support the sustainable development of local communities and the ecosystems they live in.  My goal is to raise $500.

If you're interested in helping me achieve this goal, please give a small donation via my Comrades Charity page.  Major credit cards are accepted and a donation as small as $1 would be greatly appreciated!  Donation amounts are listed in South African Rand (ZAR).  10 ZAR (or R 10), is a little less than $1 USD.  "ZAR 50" is about $4.80.
Make a donation here (if you like):

In the meantime, I should go for a run.

Oh... ps: if anyone was following my training/progress towards CIM, my marathon didn't quite go as planned.  I was on pace for my goal time of 3:39-3:45, but became nauseous, starting around mile 18-19 and my pace suffered.  I managed to enjoy the COLD day and finished in 4:03.

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