In the men’s race, it’s all fun and games until well after the halfway mark at split five, the Winston Park – Pinetown split. This is where all eventual top five finishers run their fastest segment and sorts out the real contenders for the Comrades crown from the pretenders.
From Pinetown there are just five real challengers for the win (with Steven Way behind as a possible sixth). Bongmusa Mthembu turns on the gas and no one else comes close to match him over the last 21km – where he runs the fastest final two splits in the field.
There was a lot of talk about Steven Way’s strong finish but interesting to note that Bongmusa Mthembu was faster than him in all seven splits (and still significantly so over last two splits).
In the 1940s a young man called Sam Nzima, from a tiny village in rural Mpumalanga, was inspired by the beauty and animals in the nearby Kruger National Park to start taking photos. In another time and different circumstances he would have received fame, accolades and awards but today few people recognise his name – and it was only recently that he received any credit at all for a photograph that shaped South Africa’s history.
This is part of a trilogy of articles providing an in-depth statistical analysis of Comrades 2022. The articles on Elite Men and Elite Women are also available.
Getting to the Start
The graph below is a hurricane funnel answering the often-asked question, “What happens to all the entries?”
16479 enter, 1688 don’t bother to submit a qualifier, 661 don’t make it to registration, 916 collect their race pack but don’t start and 1503 fall on the road to Durban leaving us with 11711 Comrades 2022 finishers.
This is part of a trilogy of articles providing an in-depth statistical analysis of Comrades 2022. Also see the articles on Elite Women and Overall / Full Field statistical analysis (coming soon).
The Gold Standard
The male Gold pace per split graph is quite different from the female side of the field (see previous article). Over the first few splits, the frontrunning is done by a few TV runners (who fade fast and don’t feature in this graph) but the serious contenders stick together until the halfway mark at Drummond. Seven of the ten Golds are still together at Winston Park after which the fastest split of the race into Pinetown separates the good from the great.
From Pinetown, the only podium position in question is third with Dan Moselakwe eventually claiming it. Tete Dijana runs the fastest split in the field to Sherwood and further extends his lead to the finish line in Moses Mabhida – although he’s only the second fastest over the final split. The fastest final split belongs to 11th placed finished Gordon Lesetedi who just can’t reel in Lutendo Mapoto for the final Gold.
This is part of a trilogy of articles providing an in-depth statistical analysis of Comrades 2022. Also see the statistical analysisarticles on Elite Men and Overall / Full Field (coming soon).
The Gold Standard
The graph below shows the average pace between each timing mat for the top ten. Adele Broodryk makes an early move between Lynnfield Park and Cato Ridge (one of only two splits where a female runner dips below 4min/km) but she can’t hold the pace through halfway.
The big (and definitive) move usually happens between Winston Park and Pinetown in the down run this year is no different. Morozova smashes the fastest pace of the race (3:52) and, although she slows on the Sherwood split (which includes Cowies Hill), she extends her lead with no one else coming close to matching her.
I like to run and I like to run the numbers. There is nothing quite like getting a really big dataset in one’s hands and playing around with the numbers. Once a year I allow myself this self-indulgence. Night after night, glass of red wine after glass of red wine, after everyone else in the household has gone to bed, I sit alone and pound away at my keyboard.
The Comrades data is quite predictable, every year the same patterns emerge. Most people start too fast and finish much slower, there is the Christmas tree finisher pattern where more people finish in the last 15 minutes of each medal cut-off than in any of the previous 15 minute segments.
Every year I come up with a few new ideas to add to the list of graphs and analysis I undertake – and if the findings are interesting enough I work this into conversations, corporate training materials and conference talks whenever I get the opportunity. I’ve run a lot of marathons and I’ve run a lot of data. However, this article covers the most surprising statistic I’ve found.
On the 4th of December 2022, Kwazulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) took the unprecedented step of issuing a media statement dismissing rumours of positive doping results at the 2022 Comrades Marathon. Prior to the media release, I had personally been told to expect the imminent announcement that a South African female gold medallist would be disqualified for doping.