Comrades Marathon 2018: A guide to SA's 'ultimate human race'

2018-05-15 22:00 - Kavitha Pillay
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With less than a month to go before one of SA's biggest road marathons takes place, runners and spectators prepare for the annual Comrades Marathon.

The 93rd Ultimate Human Race is set to be a Down Run, meaning that it will begin in Pietermaritzburg and finish in Durban - with the race route annually alternating its starting points between these two KwaZulu-Natal cities.

Entries for the 2018 Comrades Marathon have closed and 20 000 runners will take on the 89km stretch.

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If you're not running, you can still make the most of the sunny KZN winter and cash in on the fun along the race route. Spectators usually line the streets of the route, cheering on runners.

There are also special spectator spots boasting entertainment acts such as DJs, bands, professional dancers, cheerleaders and local sports personalities - as well as dedicated kids' zones, food stalls and large screens to view the race. Details of spectator spots are still to be confirmed - watch this space for more information.

Here's what you need to know as a spectator

When: Sunday, 10 June.

Where: The 46th Down Run starts at 5:30 outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall and ends 12 hours later at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium. This is the first time that the race is finishing at the stadium.

Cost: Free. 

New finish venue

With the new Comrades Marathon finish venue being Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) Chairperson, Cheryl Winn says that “After having finished the last 21 Down Runs at Kingsmead Cricket Stadium, the CMA’s main motivation for taking this giant leap into the future is the capacity for us to grow the number of entries we can safely accommodate in future, which is presented by the facilities offered at the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium.” 

Moses Mabhida Stadium is easily accessible and offers user-friendly facilities. Winn adds that it will enhance the “finish processing facilities and our entertainment appeal to spectators”.

The stadium offers free seating for individuals, while reserved seating is charged at a nominal cost for running clubs.

“Due to stadium regulations, clubs will not be allowed to erect tents and gazebos. However, a largely unlimited number of club tent sites will be made available in the neighbouring People’s Park Tent Village,” says CMA.

Clubs can buy a tent site in one of four options in the People’s Park Club Tent Site Village. However, these will have screens showing the action as a direct view of runners is not available from the Site Village.

Food and beverages will not be allowed into the venue and can be bought from licensed vendors. Runners will be given soup and beverages upon finishing the event, adds CMA.

Comrades goes digital

The race may be 93 years in the running, but the Comrades Marathon Association sure knows how to keep connected with runners and spectators on digital platforms.

To make things easier, the race has an interactive map - click here to access it - or download a hi-res version of the 2018 Route Map here.

In addition, you can get the latest Comrades Marathon information by downloading the App - Click here to download.

Comrades Expo

The official registration point for the Comrades Marathon is the Expo which takes place from 7-9 June at the Durban Exhibition Centre.

Expect to see more than 110 exhibitors at the Expo which is primarily for sport enthusiasts. It features major athletic brands and exhibitors promoting supplements, nutrition and running technology. Click here for more information.

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Road closures

The Comrades Marathon Association confirmed the road closures for this year's Marathon. Take a look:

Make a vacay of it

Whether you're a spectator from another province, visiting from a town on the outskirts of the cities or an international runner or spectator, why not make the most of KZN and explore some of its attractions.

Between 30-minutes to a few hours away from Pietermaritzburg and Durban, these road trips will allow you to explore some of the natural attractions the province is known for.

ALSO SEE: Adventure out on these KZN road trips

With KwaZulu-Natal offering the beach, burg and bush experience, and Durban being the eclectic urban centre of it all, your travels in SA’s east will be nothing short of memorable. Here's where you can hit the road to:

Meander the Midlands

A mere 100km drive from Durban will take you to the Midlands Meander – a hub of arts, crafts culture and cuisine set in the lush natural beauty of KZN’s inland.

A trip to Piggly Wiggly should be on your road trip bucket-list. Here you will find a range of attractions – shop for artisanal food, local wines or even fine art, while kids enjoy anything from candle-dipping and chocolate-making, to games of archery and ride mini ziplines – all in safe and controlled environments. 

ALSO SEE: A Meander through the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands

Be sure to also stop at the Mandela Capture Site, discover the many quaint towns, and stop at Howick Falls to marvel at the waterfall.

Sunshine at Sapphire Coast

Sapphire Coast in KZN’s south coast, only about a 30-minute drive from Durban, is home to 40 kilometres of unspoilt beauty, boasting a variety of wildlife just inland of its golden beaches and the renowned Aliwal Shoal Reef where one can go scuba diving.

SEE: #FindYourEscape: Explore the Garden Route's luxury castle on a beach + 7 exclusive beaches in SA

Majestic Drakensburg

KZN’s Drakensburg mountain range, less than 200km drive from Durban, boasts massive green mountains, caves with rock art, a and natural amphitheatre. Also, expect the mountains to be capped with snow in winter.

Visit the open-air Bushman Cave Museum in the Giant's Castle Reserve - this requires a short walk to the cave, which features 500 rock paintings, some of which are estimated to be around 800 years old.

SEE: Bushman Art Explorations: Get in touch with your rock art heritage

Other attractions in the area include The Drakensberg Boys' Choir performances at the Choir School in Champagne Valley as well as horse-riding at Spionkop Nature Reserve.

iSimangaliso wetlands

About 230km from Durban, explore the iSimangaliso Wetland Park – home to the big five and a plethora of wildlife and plant life, as well as SA’s first World Heritage Site.

The Wetland Park now boasts five ecologically distinct visitor game drives, each with distinctive attractions en route including hides, look-out points, picnic sites, places of interest – like Lake Bhangazi – and vistas.

MUST-SEE: #EcoTravel: Tap into nature's healing at iSimangaliso