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).
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.
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.