Comrades 2018 (Full statistical analysis)

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How The 2018 Men’s Comrades Down Run Was Won

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).

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Comrades 2022 Overall / Full Field Race Stats

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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.

Note: The finisher numbers are for all people earning that medal or better. For example, the ‘Vic Clapham’ 11711 are all finishers (i.e. 12 hours or better) and the ‘Bronze’ 7632 is everyone finishing 11 hours or better (i.e. it includes all Bronze, RM, BR, etc. medals).
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Comrades 2022 Elite Male Stats

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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.

Tete Dijana ran the fastest split in the field to Sherwood to pull ahead of the rest of the field (photo courtesy of Marathonfoto.com)
Continue reading “Comrades 2022 Elite Male Stats”
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Race Relations: Cancellation Controversy in the time of Corona

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[This article was originally published on Sport24.co.za]

Following on from the in-depth look at the Comrades Marathon Association’s decision not to refund 2020 entrants, this article evaluates the ‘refund / no refund’ decisions of South Africa’s other large marathons and ultras who’ve been forced to cancel their 2020 events during the coronavirus pandemic.

READ: Money or the Goody Bag? The Great Comrades Refund Debate article.

 

Of the Big 5 ultra marathons, only Om Die Dam took place in 2020. The largest four ultra marathons have all been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic with only Loskop being able to offer full refunds.

South Africa’s largest three marathons are all still planned for last quarter of 2020. The Wally Hayward Marathon is the only Big 5 marathon impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic to date but were able to offer the choice of a refund or deferred entry to runners.

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MiWay Wally Hayward Marathon (Can I be Frank with you?)

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[Marathon #217 / 2nd Wally Hayward Marathon / 1 May 2019]

Foreword

As a schoolboy, I remember hearing about the predictions of Nostradamus and thinking “What a load of crap”. How could a 16th century French whack job predict events 500 years later? I was certain that this was a complete load of concocted claptrap courtesy of the fanciful, furtive imaginations of rapscallions* who’d taken great liberties translating Michel de Nostredame’s vague, flowery prose and then used them to retrospectively correlate his prophesies to current events**. Continue reading “MiWay Wally Hayward Marathon (Can I be Frank with you?)”

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Comrades 2019 Overall Field Race Stats

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This article provides detailed analysis and statistics on the overall Comrades 2019 field. Statistics articles on the elite section of the field can be found here for the women and here for the men.

Participation Trends

This year saw a record number of Comrades entries (24,594) just ahead of the 2000 edition (24,552). However almost a quarter of the entrants (22.4%) did not make it to the start line (the year 2000 had a meagre 2.4% start line drop off). The start line drop off percentage varies a great deal each year, with the highest being a massive 35.1% in 2011 (20% is about average). Of note is that it rarely breached 10% when participants had to run a qualifying marathon before entering. Continue reading “Comrades 2019 Overall Field Race Stats”

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Comrades 2019: Mens Elite Field (All the Stats)

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The 94th Comrades Marathon and 48th Up Run was held on 9 June 2019. This is a stat by stat account of the Men’s Elite section of the race – with a few anecdotal interludes thrown in to break the statistical monotony.

The Gold Standard

Click to expand.

The race starts at a fast pace but everyone (other than a few naïve television commentators) knows that the first half of the Up Run is for the television cameras, the second half is where the medals are earned. Continue reading “Comrades 2019: Mens Elite Field (All the Stats)”

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Running Alone by Jackie Mekler (A book review)

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At the age of nine, Jackie Mekler was placed in an orphanage. This marked the end of his happy childhood – and the orphanage was where he remained until getting expelled at the age of 16. Jackie Mekler was a caged bird who hated the rules, regulations and discipline within the institution. On the 26th of December 1945, a diminutive 13-year-old boy bunked out of the orphanage to go for his first run. As his mop of bright ginger hair bobbed up and down Valley Street in Johannesburg, Jackie Mekler had finally found the means to escape the constrictions, constraints and controls that had been thrust upon him. “My frustration led me to explore ways of loosening the shackles of confinement. The best and easiest way was to start running.”

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Is Road Running Still (Unconsciously) Sexist?

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Confessions of a Trainee Feminist

On my social media profiles, I profess to be a “Trainee Feminist”. As the lone male in our household (even our cats are girls) I might joke that this is merely a survival tactic but, having been blessed with two daughters, it is actually a genuine attempt at improving myself and the world into which my daughters grow up.

I recently wrote an article on the oldest road race in Johannesburg, the Jackie Gibson Marathon. The race also has a half marathon named after another South African running legend, Allan Ferguson. I thought I’d done a pretty good job conveying the personality of the marathon – as well as highlighting the impressive achievements of both gentlemen which resulted in them getting honoured with race naming rights (Allan Ferguson actually has two road races named after him – as far as I know the only person in the world to be so honoured).

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Jackie Gibson Marathon (Where The Hills Have No Name)

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[MARATHON #185 / 3rd Jackie Gibson / 15 April 2018]

This is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre of marathons – connoisseurs of pain, horror and gore will love it whilst the weak and squeamish will hate every minute.

People are very liberal dishing out advice when you’re 21. When I was 21, I migrated upcountry from a small cliquey, seaside village called Cape Town to the metropolis of Johannesburg – and received plenty of unsolicited advice. Most of it I either completely ignored or quickly forgot. However, the one piece of advice I took to heart and still apply 20 years later (probably because of the gravity with which it was delivered) was, “Stick to the north of Johannesburg. You can’t go wrong in the north of Johannesburg. But whatever you do – stay clear of the south!”

Two decades is a long time to survive in Johannesburg – overall I have come through relatively unscathed, I’ve only had one car stolen and have avoided most of the pitfalls one associates with life on the highveld (like being hijacked, mugged or becoming a Lions supporter). I attribute much of the success of this survival strategy to heeding the above advice – and, other than for weddings and marathons, I have avoided the south of Johannesburg like KPMG avoids due diligence. Just like in Game of Thrones, people of the north need to limit the amount of time they spend in the south if they want to survive!

If you survive two-laps of the steepest hills Joburg south can throw at you, this is the great medal you’ll earn.

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