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Comrades Marathon

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Comrades Marathon
The Comrades Marathon logo
DateMay / June
LocationDurban / Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Event typeRoad
DistanceUltramarathon (90 km)
Established1921; 103 years ago (1921)
Course records
Official siteThe Comrades Marathon

The Comrades Marathon is an ultramarathon of approximately 88 kilometres (55 mi)[1] which is run annually in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. It is the world's largest and oldest ultramarathon race.[2] The direction of the race alternates each year between the "up" run (87.6km) starting from Durban (elevation: 101 metres (331 ft)) and the "down" run (87.7km) starting from Pietermaritzburg (elevation: 921 metres (3,022 ft)).

The 2019 field was capped at 25,000 runners, and the entry process closed after one week.[3] South African runners constitute the greater part of the field, but many entrants hail from the India, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, India, the United States, Brazil, Australia, Botswana, Russia, Eswatini and Japan.[3][4] In all but three runnings since 1988, over 10,000 runners have reached the finish within the allowed 11 or 12 hours.[5] With increased participation since the 1980s, the average finish times for both sexes, and the average age of finishers have increased substantially.[6]

The race was not held from 1941 to 1945 due to World War II, and the in-person edition of the race was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was resumed in 2022 with a field of 15,000 entrants.[7]

Since 2019 runners over the age of 20 qualify when they are able to complete an officially recognised marathon (42.2 km) in under 4:50 (5 hours before 2019).[8] During the event an athlete must also reach five cut-off points in specified times to complete the race.[1] The spirit of the Comrades Marathon is said to be embodied by attributes of camaraderie, selflessness, dedication, perseverance, and ubuntu.[9]


Course of the ultramarathon

The race is run on the roads of KwaZulu-Natal province, marked by "The Big Five" set of hills. On the up run they appear in the following order: Cowies Hill, Fields Hill, Botha's Hill, Inchanga, and Polly Shortts. The highest point of the race, at 2,850 feet (870 m) above sea level, is situated near the Umlaas Road interchange. Approximately 40 official refreshment stations along the route are stocked with soft drinks, water sachets, energy drink sachets, fruit, biscuits, energy bars, cooked potatoes and other refreshments.[10] About eight physiotherapy and first aid stations are also located at strategic points.[11]

Runners in Kloof during the 2023 Comrades Marathon


Vic Clapham medal from the 2023 Comrades Marathon, awarded to finishers who complete the race between 11:00:00 and 11:59:59

Athletes currently have 12 hours to complete the course, extended from 11 hours in 2003 (including a special 12 hour allowance in the year 2000). The original Comrades cut-off time from 1921 to 1927 was also 12 hours, reduced to 11 hours in 1928. There are a number of cut-off points along the routes which runners must reach by a prescribed time or be forced to retire from the race. A runner who successfully completed nine marathons wears a yellow number, while those who completed ten races wear a green number, permanently allocated to the runner for all future races. Runners running their 20th, 30th and 40th races are also indicated by yellow numbers – differently formatted on different years.

Medals are awarded to all runners completing the course in under 12 hours. Medals are currently awarded as follows:

  • Gold medal: the first 10 men and women.
  • Wally Hayward medal (silver-centred circled by gold ring): 11th position to sub 6hrs 00min.
  • Isavel Roche-Kelly medal (silver-centred circled by gold ring): women only, 11th position to sub 7hrs 30min.
  • Silver medal: 6hrs 00min to sub 7hrs 30min.
  • Bill Rowan medal (bronze-centred circled by silver ring): 7hrs 30min to sub 9hrs 00min.
  • Robert Mtshali medal (titanium): 9hr 00min to sub 10hrs 00min.
  • Bronze medal: 10hrs 00min to sub 11hrs 00min.
  • Vic Clapham medal (copper): 11hrs 00min to sub 12hrs 00min.

- Prior to 2000, only gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded.

- The Bill Rowan medal was introduced in 2000 and named after the winner of the first Comrades Marathon in 1921. The time limit for this medal was inspired by Rowan's winning time in 1921 of 8hrs 59min.

- A new copper medal, the Vic Clapham medal (named after the race founder), was added in 2003. This medal coincided with the increase in the time allocation for completing the event from sub 11hrs to sub 12hrs.

- The Wally Hayward medal, named after five-time winner Wally Hayward, was added in 2007 for runners finishing in under 6hrs, but outside the gold medals. Often there are fewer runners earning a Wally Hayward medal than those earning a gold medal, if any at all.

- In 2005 the back-to-back medal was created and henceforth was awarded to novice runners who complete an 'up or down run' in succession. Back-to-back medals were automatically awarded to 2005 Comrades Marathon finishers who had completed their first Comrades Marathon in 2004. As with any new innovation, the award was never intended to be retrospective, owing to administrative restrictions. However, in response to popular demand, the back-to-back medal is available for purchase to runners who have previously fulfilled the criteria of completing both an 'up' and a 'down' Comrades Marathon.

- For 2019 the Isavel Roche-Kelly medal (the same design as the Wally Hayward medal) was introduced for women finishing outside the gold medals, but under 7hrs 30min, effectively eliminating the silver medal for women. Twenty-year old Isavel Roche-Kelly was named the UCT Sportsperson of the Year for 1980. An unknown on the athletics scene, Roche-Kelly set the roads alight that year when she became the first woman to break the 712-hour barrier and win the Comrades Marathon in 7:18:00; well under the silver-medal cut-off of 7:30:00, and in the process shattering the women's record by more than an hour. Earlier that year she also became only the third women in Africa to complete a marathon in under three hours. She went on to win the 1981 Comrades up run in a time of 6:44:35 the following year. Three years later she died in a cycling accident in her native Northern Ireland at the age of 24.

- Also in 2019, the titanium Robert Mtshali medal was introduced for a time between 9hrs 00min and sub 10hrs 00min. Robert Mtshali was the first unofficial black runner in the 1935 Comrades Marathon, finishing his race in a time of 9 hours and 30 minutes. His efforts were not officially recorded as government and race rules of the time stipulated that, in order to compete in the Comrades Marathon, you had to be a white male. Friday, 24 May 1935, saw Mtshali participating in the 15th Comrades Marathon, a down run, joining the 48 official entrants on the starting line. He ran unofficially, but was warmly welcomed into the Durban finish venue on the then Old Fort Road track grounds (now KE Masinga Road) by the crowds of supporters and spectators. The maverick runner clocked his time of 9:30 and was awarded a special presentation by Councillor V.L. Shearer. He was one of only 35 finishers.


The Comrades was run for the first time on 24 May 1921 (Empire Day), and with the exception of a break during World War II, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic-impacted 2020 and 2021,[12] has been run every year since. To date, over 300,000 runners have completed the race.[5]

The race was the idea of World War I veteran Vic Clapham, to commemorate the South African soldiers killed during the war. Clapham, who had endured a 2,700-kilometre route march through sweltering German East Africa, wanted the memorial to be a unique test of the physical endurance of the entrants. The constitution of the race states that one of its primary aims is to "celebrate mankind's spirit over adversity". Vic Clapham's great-grandson, Antony Clapham,[13] finished the race from 2012 to 2015, earning four Vic Clapham medals.

From 1962 to 1994 the race was run on Republic Day, 31 May. After this public holiday was scrapped in 1995 by the post-apartheid South African government, the race date was changed to Youth Day on 16 June. In 2007, the race organisers (controversially) bowed to political pressure from the ANC Youth League, who felt that the race diverted attention from the significance of Youth Day, and changed the race date to Sunday 17 June for 2007 and 15 June for 2008. In 2009 and 2010 the date was changed (to 24 May and 30 May respectively) to accommodate football's Confederations Cup (2009) and World Cup (2010) in South Africa. In 2020 and 2021, the race was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.[14][12]


Forty-eight runners entered the first race in 1921, but only thirty-four elected to start. Most of them were former infantrymen. The course at the time was tarred only for the final few kilometres into Durban. A time limit of 12 hours was set and Bill Rowan became the inaugural winner, clocking 08:59 to win by 41 minutes ahead of Harry Phillips. Of the 34 starters, only 16 completed the race.[15]

Arthur Newton entered and won the race for the first time in 1922. He went on to win the race five times and emerge as the dominant Comrades runner of the 1920s. When he completed the down run in 06:56 in 1923, there were only a handful of spectators on hand to witness the finish because so few thought it possible that the race could be run so quickly. The first woman to run the race was Frances Hayward in 1923,[16] but her entry was refused, so she was an unofficial entrant.[5] She completed the event in 11:35[5] and although she was not awarded a Comrades medal, the other runners and spectators presented her with a silver tea service and a rose bowl. In 1924 the Comrades had its fewest starters ever, just 24. Four years later, in 1928, the time limit for the race was reduced by an hour to 11 hours.[citation needed]


In the 1930s, Hardy Ballington emerged as the dominant runner, recording four victories in 1933, 1934, 1936 and 1938. The winner of the 1930 race, Wally Hayward, became one of the greatest legends of the Comrades Marathon, winning a further four times in the fifties, and becoming the oldest man to complete the race in 1989. In 1932 Geraldine Watson, an unofficial entrant, became the first woman to complete both the up run and the down run.


After Ballington's domination of the 1930s, Comrades was stopped during the war years from 1941 to 1945. In 1948 a Comrades tradition was born when race official Max Trimborn, instead of firing the customary starter's gun, gave a loud imitation of a cock's crow. That tradition continues to the present day with Trimborn's recorded voice played over loudspeakers at the starting line.


In the 1950s, a full twenty years after he won the race for the first time, Wally Hayward recorded his second victory and followed that up with wins in 1951, 1953 and 1954. He represented South Africa at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, where he finished tenth in the marathon. Hayward retired from the Comrades after establishing new records for both the up and down runs and equalling the five wins of Newton and Ballington. In 1958, the race was won for the first time by Jackie Mekler, who went on to win the race five times, finishing second twice and third twice.


In the 1960s, Comrades grew considerably, from 104 starters in 1960 to 703 starters in 1969. Due to the bigger fields, cut-off points were introduced at Drummond and Cato Ridge. Mekler became the first man to break the six-hour barrier in 1960, finishing in 5:56:32. The 1961 winner was George Claassen, a school principal and father of well-known Wynand Claassen, Springbok rugby captain during 1981–83. Claassen junior also finished the Comrades ten times in later years.

In 1962, the race attracted foreign entries for the first time as the Road Runners Club of England sent over four of the best long-distance runners in Britain. English runner John Smith won the race, an up run, in under six hours, missing out on the course record by 33 seconds. Watching the stragglers come in hours later, Smith commented to former winner Bill Cochrane that the other people completing the race were getting as much applause as he had received. "You are now witnessing the spirit of the Comrades," replied Cochrane.

In 1965, English runner Bernard Gomersall broke Mekler's down run record with a time of 5:51:09.

In 1967, Manie Kuhn and Tommy Malone were involved in the closest finish in the history of the race. Malone appeared to be on his way to a comfortable win and was handed the traditional message from the Mayor of Pietermaritzburg to the Mayor of Durban at Tollgate with a lead of two minutes over Kuhn. He entered the stadium in the lead with only 80 metres left to go. Suddenly Kuhn appeared only 15 metres behind and closed in quickly. Malone put in a burst for the line, but with only 15 metres left he fell to the ground with cramps. He attempted to get up again, but with the line within reach Kuhn flew past to grab victory. The mayoral message was forgotten as both runners embraced.[17]


The Comrades had over 1,000 starters for the first time in 1971, with over 3,000 in 1979. The race was widely broadcast on both radio and television. The race was opened to all athletes for the first time in 1975, allowing blacks and women to take part officially. In 1975, the Golden Jubilee of the Comrades, Vincent Rakabele finished 20th to become the first black runner to officially win a medal. Elizabeth Cavanaugh became the first women's winner in a shade over 10 hours.

1976 saw the emergence of Alan Robb, who won the first of his four Comrades titles. Robb repeated his win in 1977, 1978 and 1980, including breaking the tape in Durban in 1978 in a record 5:29:14, almost 20 minutes and four kilometres ahead of runner-up Dave Wright.


During the 1980s the Comrades began with a field of 4,207 in 1980 and topped 5,000 for the first time in 1983.

In 1980, Olive Anthony became the first black woman finisher of the race in 9:10. She ran the race 22 times, including in 1983 while she was three months pregnant and also in 2010 with her husband and two daughters.[18]

In 1981, University of the Witwatersrand student Bruce Fordyce won the first of his eventual nine Comrades titles. An outspoken critic of apartheid, Fordyce and a number of other athletes initially decided to boycott the 1981 event when organisers announced that they would associate it with the 20th anniversary of the Republic of South Africa. Fordyce ultimately competed wearing a black armband to signal his protest. He repeated his victories in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 (a record 5:24:07 down run), 1987, 1988 (a record 5:27:42 for the up run), and 1990.

In 1989, Sam Tshabalala became the first black winner of the Comrades.[19]

Schoolteacher Frith van der Merwe won the woman's race in 1988 in a time of 6:32:56. In 1989, Van der Merwe ran 5:54:43, obliterating the women's record and finishing fifteenth overall.[20]

In the same year Wally Hayward entered the race at the age of 79 and finished in 9:44:15. He repeated the feat in the 1989 Comrades, where he completed the race with only two minutes to spare and at the age of 80 became the oldest man to complete the Comrades.


Comrades Marathon House, the CMA's headquarters in Pietermaritzburg where race statistics and memorabilia are kept[21]

During the 1990s the size of the starting fields was in the region of 12,000 to 14,000 runners. In 1995 prize money was introduced, attracting more foreign competitors. The traditional race day of 31 May, formerly Republic Day, was changed to 16 June, the anniversary of the Soweto uprising.

In 1992 Charl Mattheus, crossed the finish line first, but was later disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance. He claimed it was contained in medicine he had taken for a sore throat, but Jetman Msutu was elevated to the winner, thus becoming the second black winner of the Comrades. In a sad twist for Mattheus, not long after the 1992 race, the substance for which he was banned was removed from the World Athletics' banned substance list since all evidence pointed to it having no performance enhancing properties. Mattheus also suffered much negativity in the public eye but later managed to redeem his clean image with an emphatic faultless win in the 1997 down run beating a strong local and international field.


The 75th anniversary of the Comrades Marathon in 2000 was the largest ever staged, with a massive field of 23,961. An extra hour was allowed to allow runners some recovery time for bronze medal finishers to celebrate the milestone. In 2010, on its 85th anniversary, the race gained a place in the Guinness World Records as the ultramarathon with most runners. 14,343 athletes, the largest field since the turn of the millennium, finished in the allowed 12 hours.[22][23]

Russian runner Leonid Shvetsov set both down and up course records in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Stephen Muzhingi became the first non-South African winner from Africa in 2009.


Russian identical twin sisters Olesya and Elena Nurgalieva won a combined ten Comrades titles from 2003 to 2013. Stephen Muzhingi also became the first athlete to win three races in a row (2009, 2010 and 2011) since Bruce Fordyce won three in a row in the eighties (1981, 1982 and 1983).[24]

South African supremacy over the men's race was restored when Ludwick Mamabolo won the down run in 2012. David Gatebe shattered the men's down record in 2016, while Bongmusa Mthembu has won three titles. Among the women, the Nurgalieva twins' hold on the race was finally broken in 2014 when Ellie Greenwood, GBR, won the down run after a spectacular finish, taking the lead just 2 km before the end. In 2015 Caroline Wostmann became the first South African woman to win Comrades in 17 years, followed by Charne Bosman in 2016 and Ann Ashworth in 2018. In 2017, American Camille Herron, led from start-to-finish to become only the 3rd American and first in 20 years to win.[25]


The 2020 in-person edition of the race was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, with foreign registrants given the option of transferring their entry to 2021 or 2022.[a][14][27][28][29][30] Similarly, the 2021 in-person edition of the race was also cancelled due to the pandemic.[31][32]

The 2022 Comrades down run was the first in-person event following the Covid-19 pandemic. It was the 95th event since its inception in 1921, and the apt event slogan was "The Return – Sishay' Ibuya".[33] Legislation concerning mass participation events limited the number of entrants to 15,000, and preference was given to those who had entered the cancelled 2020 race.[7] The KwaZulu-Natal Sports Department confirmed that 2 athletes died following the race.[34]

Runners waiting for the start of the 2023 Comrades Marathon

Health issues[edit]

As with every ultramarathon, there are potentially lethal health risks involved in extreme physical events. In the history of the Comrades, there have been 8 deaths up to the 2022 event.[35] In a survey among a sample of 2005 participants, 25% reported cramps, 18% nausea, 8% vomiting, 13% dizziness, 3% diarrhoea, 23% pain, excluding the expected sore legs, and 14% reported fatigue of such a nature that they believed themselves to be incapable of continuing the race.[6] Among silver medalists there was a higher incidence of cramps (42.9%), nausea (21.4%) and diarrhoea (7.1%), though a lower incidence of pain and fatigue than the average runner.

Cheating in the race[edit]

In 1993, Herman Matthee, a runner from Bellville athletics club, finished in 7th place and was one of the top ten gold medal winners, but he was later stripped of his gold medal and disqualified when video evidence and eyewitness testimony indicated that he entered the race at Kloof and completed less than 30 km of the 89 km down run.[36][37] Consequently, in a Comrades first, 11th-place finisher Simon Williamson was months later promoted to tenth place and awarded the last gold medal by the then South African president FW de Klerk. Williamson had passed another runner, Ephraim Sekothlong, in the last 100 metres to claim 11th spot and, unknowingly, a gold medal.

In 1999, the Motsoeneng brothers from Bethlehem, Free State, who strongly resembled one another, performed an act of cheating during another down run.[38][39] By exchanging places with his brother at toilet stops and aided by car lifts at various stages, Sergio Motsoeneng finished ninth, which came as a surprise to Nick Bester and other athletes behind him, who could not recall being overtaken. They were exposed when television footage revealed them to be wearing watches on different arms,[40] and a time pad reading that confirmed that one of the brothers was still trailing Bester at Botha's Hill. The brothers performed well in later years,[41] though Sergio tested positive for a banned substance after finishing third in 2010.[42]

Use of banned substances is claimed to be endemic among top Comrades athletes,[43] but only a small number have been disqualified. Runners who have tested positive include Sergio Motsoeneng, Rasta Mohloli, Viktor Zhdanov,[44] Lephetesang Adoro and Ludwick Mamabolo.[45] Mamabolo was found not guilty due to "technical irregularities".[46] Erythropoietin (EPO), norandrosterone (a metabolite or precursor of nandrolone), methylhexaneamine and testosterone have been mentioned in connection with Comrades athletes.

In 2014, an analysis of negative splits by runner and statistician Mark Dowdeswell, suggested that a number of runners in the middle to back half of the field may be taking shortcuts.[47][48][49][50][51]

Records and statistics[edit]

Elena Nurgalieva leading at the 65 kilometres (40 mi) mark in the 2012 Comrades

10 Fastest times (up & down runs)[edit]

Year: Athlete: Time: Nation: Position that year


Up – Men

  1. 2008 Russia Leonid Shvetsov 5.24.39 1st
  2. 2024 Netherlands Piet Wiersma 5.25.00 1st[52]
  3. 2000 Belarus Vladimir Kotov 5.25.33 1st
  4. 2024 South Africa Dan Moselakwe 5.25.45 2nd[53]
  5. 1998 Russia Dmitri Grishin 5.26.25 1st
  6. 2000 Russia Alexi Volgin 5.27.08 2nd
  7. 1988 South Africa Bruce Fordyce 5.27.42 1st
  8. 2024 Ethiopia Degefa Yohannese Lafebo 5.27.48 3rd[53]
  9. 1996 Russia Dmitri Grishin 5.29.33 1st
  10. 1983 South Africa Bruce Fordyce 5.30.12 1st


Up – Women

  1. 2024 South Africa Gerda Steyn 5.49.46 1st[52]
  2. 2019 South Africa Gerda Steyn 5.58.53 1st
  3. 2024 Russia Alexandra Morozova 6.05.12 2nd[52]
  4. 2024 United States Courtney Olsen 6.08.09 3rd[52]
  5. 2006 Russia Elena Nurgalieva 6.09.24 1st
  6. 2004 Russia Elena Nurgalieva 6.11.15 1st
  7. 2015 South Africa Caroline Wöstmann 6.12.22 1st
  8. 2006 Russia Marina Zhalybina 6.12.58 2nd
  9. 1996 United States Ann Trason 6.13.23 1st
  10. 2004 Russia Marina Zhalybina 6.14.13 2nd


Down - Men

  1. 2023 South Africa Tete Dijana 5:13:58 1st
  2. 2023 Netherlands Piet Wiersma 5:14:01 2nd
  3. 2023 South Africa Edward Mothibi 5:17:34 3rd
  4. 2016 South Africa David Gatebe 5.18.19 1st
  5. 2007 Russia Leonid Shvetsov 5.20.41 1st
  6. 2009 Zimbabwe Stephen Muzhingi 5.23.27 1st
  7. 2016 South Africa Ludwick Mamabolo 5.24.05 2nd
  8. 1986 South Africa Bruce Fordyce 5.24.07 1st
  9. 2001 South Africa Andrew Kelehe 5.25.52 1st
  10. 1986 South Africa Bob de la Motte 5.26.12 2nd


Down - Women

  1. 2023 South Africa Gerda Steyn 5:44:54 1st
  2. 2023 South Africa Adele Broodryk 5:56:26 2nd
  3. 1989 South Africa Frith van der Merwe 5.54.43 1st
  4. 1997 United States Ann Trason 5.58.25 1st
  5. 2005 Russia Tatyana Zhirkova 5.58.51 1st
  6. 2023 South Africa Carla Molinaro 6.00.23 3rd
  7. 1997 Germany Maria Bak 6.00.28 2nd
  8. 2023 Poland Dominika Stelmach 6.06.02 4th
  9. 2012 Russia Elena Nurgalieva 6.07.12 1st
  10. 2003 Russia Elena Nurgalieva 6.07.47 1st


Multiple winners[edit]

'+' denotes winner of both an up and a down run

Men's champion Wins Club Women's champion Wins Club
South Africa Bruce Fordyce + 9 Wits AC, Rand AC Russia Elena Nurgalieva + 8
South Africa/United Kingdom Arthur Newton + 5 South Africa Maureen Holland + 4
South Africa Hardy Ballington + 5 South Africa Lettie van Zyl + 3 Germiston Callies Harriers
South Africa Wally Hayward + 5 Germiston Callies Harriers New Zealand/South Africa Helen Lucre + 3 Hillcrest Villagers AC
South Africa Jackie Mekler + 5 Germiston Callies Harriers South Africa Frith van der Merwe + 3 Benoni Northerns AC
South Africa Alan Robb + 4 Germiston Callies Harriers Germany Maria Bak + 3 Germany
South Africa Dave Bagshaw + 3 Savages AC South Africa Gerda Steyn + 3 Nedbank RC
Zimbabwe Stephen Muzhingi + 3 South Africa Isavel Roche-Kelly + 2 UCT AC
Belarus/South Africa Vladimir Kotov 3 South Africa Elizabeth Cavanagh 2 Estcourt AC
South Africa Bongmusa Mthembu + 3 Russia Olesya Nurgalieva 2
South Africa Johnny Coleman 2 United States Ann Trason + 2 USA
South Africa Bill Cochrane + 2 South Africa Lindsay Weight + 2 UCT AC
South Africa Gerald Walsh + 2 Durban AC
South Africa Trevor Allen + 2 Durban AC
South Africa Derek Preiss 2 Westville AC
Russia Dmitri Grishin 2
Russia Leonid Shvetsov + 2
South Africa Tete Dijana 2 Nedbank RC

Most gold medals[edit]

Gold medals were first awarded in 1931, and to the first 6 male finishers. In 1972, this was extended to the first 10 male finishers, as it is today. In 1983 a gold medal was awarded to the female winner for the first time. In 1988, this was extended to the first 3 female finishers, then to the first 5 female finishers from 1995, and from 1998 onward to the first 10 female finishers, on par with the male race.

The following runners won 7 or more gold medals, gold medal span in brackets, race winners in bold:


12 medals[edit]

South Africa Alan Robb (1974–1991)

11 medals[edit]

South Africa Bruce Fordyce (1979–1990)

10 medals[edit]

South Africa Trevor Allen (1950–1961)

South Africa Jackie Mekler (1952–1969)[54]

South Africa Shaun Meiklejohn (1989–1999)

South Africa Andrew Kelehe (1997–2006)

South Africa Fusi Nhlapo (2000–2012)

South Africa Bongmusa Mthembu (2009–2024)

9 medals[edit]

South Africa Hoseah Tjale (1980–1990)

South Africa Nick Bester (1988–1997)

Zimbabwe Stephen Muzhingi (2007–2015)

8 medals[edit]

South Africa Allen Boyce (1936–1956)

South Africa Gordon Baker (1967–1974)

7 medals[edit]

South Africa Hardy Ballington (1932–1947)[55]

South Africa Gerald Walsh (1952–1960)

South Africa Charl Mattheus (1988–1998)

Russia Oleg Kharitonov (2002–2008)

South Africa/Belarus Vladimir Kotov (2000–2008)

South Africa Mncedisi Mkhize (2006–2016)

South Africa Claude Moshiywa (2005–2016)

South Africa Ludwick Mamobolo (2010–2017)

South Africa Gift Kelehe (2011–2023)


13 medals[edit]

Russia Elena Nurgalieva (2003–2015)

12 medals[edit]

Russia Marina Zhalybina (1999–2013)

11 medals[edit]

Germany Maria Bak (1995–2008)

10 medals[edit]

South Africa Farwa Mentoor (2002–2011)

Russia Olesya Nurgalieva (2003–2015)

9 medals[edit]

Russia Valentina Shatyayeva (1994–2002)

South Africa Yolande Maclean (2003–2022)

7 medals[edit]

South Africa Grace De Oliveira (1999–2007)

Most top 10 finishes by women[edit]

The following women have finished in the top 10 of the women's race on 7 or more occasions in the race history. Given the top 10 women only received gold medals from 1998, the gold medals list doesn't fully reflect the history of the women's race as female contenders in the 1980s and early 90s were competing for fewer gold medals relative to the men.

13 top ten[edit]

Russia Elena Nurgalieva (2003–2015)

12 top ten[edit]

Russia Marina Zhalybina (1999–2013)

11 top ten[edit]

Germany Maria Bak (1995–2008)

10 top ten[edit]

South Africa Farwa Mentoor (2002–2011)

Russia Olesya Nurgalieva (2003–2015)

9 top ten[edit]

South Africa Tilda Tearle (1986–1995)

Russia Valentina Shatyayeva (1994–2002)

South Africa Yolande Maclean (2003–2022)

8 top ten[edit]

South Africa Priscilla Carlisle (1981–1989)

South Africa Ralie Smit (1980–1989)

South Africa Hazel Hairs (1983–1990)

7 top ten[edit]

South Africa Sanet Beukes (1992–1998)

South Africa Grace De Oliveira (1999–2007)

International (non-African) gold medallists[edit]

As the race is the pinnacle of the South African distance running calendar with local elite athletes targeting the event year-after-year there are fewer international gold medalists. World class international athletes may target the Comrades from time to time but not on a consistent basis like South African athletes. Achieving even a single gold medal for an international athlete is a significant achievement overcoming local athletes in their premier event. The following non-African international runners have won 2 or more gold medals (winners in bold):


7 medals[edit]

Russia Oleg Kharitonov (2002–2008)

Belarus Vladimir Kotov (2000–2008)

6 medals[edit]

Russia Alexi Volgin (1995–2001)

5 medals[edit]

Poland Jaroslaw Janicki (1997–2008)

Russia Grigory Murzin (1999–2008)

Russia Leonid Schvetsov (2001–2012)

4 medals[edit]

Russia Dmitri Grishin (1996–2001)

3 medals[edit]

New Zealand Dave Levick (1971–1975)

Spain Jorge Aubeso (2002–2004)

Sweden Jonas Buud (2011–2014)

2 medals[edit]

United Kingdom Mick Orton (1972–1973)

New Zealand John McBrearty (1973–1975)

Germany Charly Doll (1993–1994)

Switzerland Peter Camenzind (1994–1997)

Russia Konstantin Santalov (1997–1999)

Russia Mikhail Kokorev (1996–2000)

Russia Anatoliy Korepanov (1999–2000)

Australia Don Wallace (2000–2002)

United Kingdom/England Steve Way (2017–2018)

Netherlands Piet Wiersma (2023–2024)


13 medals[edit]

Russia Elena Nurgalieva (2003–2015)

12 medals[edit]

Russia Marina Zhalybina (1999–2013)

11 medals[edit]

Germany Maria Bak (1995–2008)

10 medals[edit]

Russia Olesya Nurgalieva (2003–2015)

9 medals[edit]

Russia Valentina Shatyayeva (1994–2002)

6 medals[edit]

Russia Tatiana Zhirkova (2003–2009)

Russia Marina Myshlyanova (2005–2010)

Russia Alexandra Morozova (2017–2024)

5 medals[edit]

Russia Elvira Kolpakova (2000–2005)

4 medals[edit]

Russia Valentina Liakhova (1994–1998)

United Kingdom/Canada Ellie Greenwood (2011–2015)

Poland Dominika Stelmach (2019–2024)

3 medals[edit]

United Kingdom/Scotland Joasia Zakrzewski (2012–2015)

United States Devon Yanko (2012–2018)

United States Sarah Bard (2016–2018)

Republic of Ireland Caitriona Jennings (2019–2024)

2 medals[edit]

United States Ann Trason (1996–1997)

Germany Birgit Lennartz (1999–2000)

Brazil Maria Venancio (1999–2001)

Russia Alena Vinitskaya (2003–2007)

United States Kami Semick (2010–2011)

United Kingdom/Switzerland Lizzy Hawker (2010–2011)

Russia Natalia Volgina (2002–2012)

Hungary Simona Staicu (2003–2015)

United States Camille Herron (2017–2022)

Most Wally Hayward medals[edit]

The following have won 3 or more Wally Hayward medals (for running sub-6 hours, but outside the top 10) since the medal was first awarded in 2007, medal span in brackets.

5 medals[edit]

Zimbabwe Mike Fokoroni (2012–2023)

4 medals[edit]

South Africa Prodigal Khumalo (2010–2023)

3 medals[edit]

South Africa Peter Muthubi (2009–2016)

South Africa Harmans Mokgadi (2012–2016)

South Africa Thabo Nkuna (2014–2017)

South Africa Charles Dibate Tjiane (2012–2018)

Lesotho Teboho Sello (2012–2022)

South Africa Renier Grobler (2016–2024)

Oldest finisher[edit]

  • Marosi Johannes Mosehla – 2024, 82 years in a time of 10:13.46[56] and 2023, 81 years in 9:26:09.[57][58]
  • Wally Hayward – 1989, 80 years. In 1954, winning Comrades for the fifth time, Hayward also was the oldest runner on the day, at the age of 45.[59]

Permanent green numbers[edit]

When a runner completes their 10th Comrades (or achieves either 5 gold medals or 3 wins) they attain their green number and keep their race number for life, the race number effectively being 'retired' only for use by that athlete. The first time a number is awarded it will be flanked by single laurels. After 20 years a double green number with double laurels is earned, followed by another laurel every next 10 years. A 3-time winner or 5 gold qualifier will not get a second green until they reach 20. The race number may subsequently only be inherited by family members.

The following are holders (either earned or inherited) of race numbers 1 to 10:

0((((1))))0 Clive Crawley – 42 medals (1957–2000) (1 Gold medal icon blank.svg, 22 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 19 Bronze medal icon blank.svg)

0(2)0 Wally Hayward – 5 wins/7 medals (1930–1989) (4 Gold medal icon blank.svg, 1 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 2 Bronze medal icon blank.svg) / Steven Bure – 3 medals (2015–2018) (1 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 3 Bill Rowan)

0(3)0 Allen Bodill – 10 medals (1947–1968) (10 Silver medal icon blank.svg) / Myles Bodill – 2 medals (1989–1994) (2 Bronze medal icon blank.svg)

0((4))0 Nick Raubenheimber – 22 medals (1953–1975) (6 Gold medal icon blank.svg, 13 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 3 Bronze medal icon blank.svg) / Graham Raubenheimer – 11 medals (1980–1995) (4 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 6 Bronze medal icon blank.svg) / Blake Raubenheimer – 10 medals (2005–2017) (9 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 1 Bill Rowan)

0(((5)))0 Allan Ferguson – 36 medals (1948–1995) (3 Gold medal icon blank.svg, 12 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 21 Bronze medal icon blank.svg)

0(6)0 John Woods – 11 medals (1952–1979) (1 Gold medal icon blank.svg, 8 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 2 Bronze medal icon blank.svg)

0(7)0 Malcolm Hean – 14 medals (1962–1976) (9 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 5 Bronze medal icon blank.svg)

080 unknown/not allocated – according to results it was used in 1922 by a 'Boyle', thereafter by 7 different individuals, the final being a 'Natasha Williams' in 1995.

0(9)0 Jackie Mekler – 5 wins/12 medals (1952–1985) (10 Gold medal icon blank.svg, 1 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 1 Bronze medal icon blank.svg)

0(10)0 Fred Morrison – 11 medals (1938–1966) (2 Gold medal icon blank.svg, 9 Silver medal icon blank.svg)

Most medals – Green number records[edit]

Male quadruple green numbers[edit]

Medal holder Medals 0Number0 Medal years Medal categories Clubs
South Africa Barry Holland 49 0((((916))))0 1973–2023 22 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 20 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 6 Bill Rowan, 1 Vic Clapham Savages AC, Jeppe Quondam AC, Dolphin Coast Striders
South Africa Louis Massyn 48 0((((403))))0 1973–2023 10 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 30 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 7 Vic Clapham Goudveld Multisport
South Africa Dave Rogers 45[60] 0((((183))))0 1961–2013 3 Gold medal icon blank.svg, 26 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 13 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 3 Vic Clapham Durban AC, Westville AC
South Africa Vic Boston 44 0((((3111))))0 1977–2022 17 Gold medal icon blank, 14 Gold medal icon blank, 11 Bill Rowan, 1 Vic Clapham, 1 Robert Mtshali Rocky Road Runners
South Africa Alan Robb 43 0((((1704))))0 1974–2022 12 Gold medal icon blank.svg, 16 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 6 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 9 Bill Rowan Germiston Callies Harriers, Rocky Road Runners
South Africa Wietsche van der Westhuizen 44 0((((4192))))0 1978-2023 6 Gold medal icon blank, 25 Gold medal icon blank, 8 Bill Rowan, 4 Vic Clapham Asics Running Club, Bellville AC, Krugersdorp Road Runners, Macarthur Marathon Club
South Africa Mike Cowling 43[61] 0((((7296))))0 1975-2023 14 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 16 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 12 Bill Rowan, 1 Vic Clapham Hilton Harriers, Saints AC, Sparten AC, Collegians Harriers
South Africa Clive Crawley 42[62] 0((((1))))0 1957–2000 1 Gold medal icon blank.svg, 22 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 19 Bronze medal icon blank.svg Savages AC
South Africa Zwelitsha Gono 42[63] 0((((1180))))0 1973-2019 14 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 21 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 1 Bill Rowan, 6 Vic Clapham South Coast Striders
South Africa Dave Lowe 42 0((((1702))))0 1974–2015 3 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 35 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 3 Bill Rowan, 1 Vic Clapham Savages AC, Westville AC
South Africa David Williams 42[64] 0((((1550))))0 1973-2022 1 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 32 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 9 Vic Clapham Savages AC
South Africa Tommy Neitski 41 0((((1689))))0 1977-2018 3 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 33 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 5 Vic Clapham Sunshine AC
South Africa Riel Hugo 40 0((((1221))))0 1969–2008 21 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 14 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 2 Bill Rowan, 3 Vic Clapham Durbanville AC, Whalers AC, Tygervallei Belville AC, Germiston Callies Harriers
South Africa Boysie van Staden 40 0((((2516))))0 1973–2017 6 Gold medal icon blank.svg, 7 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 11 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 7 Bill Rowan, 2 Vic Clapham DHS Old Boys, Savages AC, Berea Rovers AC, Maxed Elite KZN, Durban AC, PDAC, YPAC
South Africa Shaun Wood 40 0((((4286))))0 1978–2017 14 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 29 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 1 Bill Rowan, 3 Vic Clapham Westville AC, YPAC, Collegians Harriers
South Africa Johann van Eeden 40 0((((1691))))0 1974–2018 35 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 5 Vic Clapham Akasia AC, Ndaba AC, Pretoria MC
South Africa Colin Goosen 41 0((((144))))0 1980–2023 24 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 5 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 8 Bill Rowan, 3 Robert Mtshali Save Orion AC, Saints AC, Collegian Harriers, Rocky Road Runners, PE Amateur AC, Uni of Natal PMB

No female runner has achieved a quadruple green number yet.

Female triple green numbers[edit]

Medal holder Medals 0Number0 Medal years Medal categories Clubs
South Africa Kleintjie van Schalkwyk 35 0(((7919)))0 1983–2024 26 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 7 Bill Rowan, 2 Vic Clapham Secunda Marathon Klub, Mossel Bay Harriers, Hartenbos Drawwers
South Africa Patricia Fisher 33 0(((1011)))0 1987–2023 19 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 14 Vic Clapham Stella AC
South Africa Pat Freeman 31 0(((6883)))0 1989–2022 24 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 7 Vic Clapham Stella AC, Dolphin Coast Striders
South Africa Tilda Tearle 30 0(((5701)))0 1984–2017 3 Gold medal icon blank.svg, 7 Silver medal icon blank.svg, 13 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 1 Bill Rowan, 7 Vic Clapham Savages AC
South Africa Kim Pain 30 0(((5938)))0 1988–2019 20 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 7 Bill Rowan, 3 Vic Clapham Jeppe Quondam AC
South Africa Toni Hesp 30 0(((5974)))0 1985–2022 28 Bronze medal icon blank.svg, 2 Vic Clapham Jeppe AC, Rocky Road Runners

International triple/double green numbers[edit]

0(((8612)))0 Scotland John Sneddon, 30 medals (1993-2024)

0((8272))0 Germany Klaus Neumann, 28 medals (1993-2023)

0((48663))0 Portugal Tiago Dionisio, 22 medals (2001-2024)

0((9436))0 Japan Hideo Takano, 21 medals (1999-2024)

0((378))0 New Zealand Bruce Matthews, 20 medals (1967-2001)

Most consecutive medals[edit]

Medal holder Medals Achieved in
South Africa Barry Holland 49 2023[65]
South Africa Louis Massyn 47 2019[66]
South Africa Vic Boston 44 2022[67]
South Africa Wietsche van der Westhuizen 43 2022[68]
South Africa Alan Robb 42 2015[69]
South Africa Dave Lowe 42 2015[70]
South Africa Tommy Neitski 41 2017[71]
South Africa Kenny Craig 40 1998[72]
South Africa Riel Hugo 40 2008[73]
South Africa Shaun Wood 40 2017[74]


Key:   Current course record

Past Comrades winners
Year 2023 u/d Time (Men) Men's Champion Club Time (Women) Women's Champion Club Comrades Marathon
2024 u 5:25:00 Netherlands Piet Wiersma 5:49.46 South Africa Gerda Steyn3 Phantane AC [52]
2023 d 5:13:58 South Africa Tete Dijana2 Nedbank RC 5:44.54 South Africa Gerda Steyn2 Phantane AC [75]
2022 d 5:30:38 South Africa Tete Dijana Nedbank RC GN 6:17:48 Russia Alexandra Morozova International [76][77][78]
cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to coronavirus pandemic [14][31]
2019 u 5:31:33 South Africa Edward Mothibi Nedbank RC GN 5:58:53 South Africa Gerda Steyn Nedbank RC JHB
2018 d 5:26:34 South Africa Bongmusa Mthembu3 Arthur Ford AC 6:10:03 South Africa Ann Ashworth Massmart AC CG
2017 u 5:35:34 South Africa Bongmusa Mthembu2 Arthur Ford AC 6:27:35 United States Camille Herron Nedbank RC International
2016 d 5:18:19 South Africa David Gatebe TomTom AC 6:25:55 South Africa Charne Bosman Nedbank RC CG
2015 u 5:38:36 South Africa Gift Kelehe Samancor Chrome MC 6:12:22 South Africa Caroline Wöstmann Nedbank RC
2014 d 5:28:29 South Africa Bongmusa Mthembu Nedbank RC KZN 6:18:12 United Kingdom Eleanor Greenwood Nedbank International
2013 u 5:32:09 South Africa Claude Moshiywa Nedbank RC GN 6:27:09 Russia Elena Nurgalieva8 Maxed Elite International
2012 d 5:31:03 South Africa Ludwick Mamabolo Maxed Elite KZN 6:07:12 Russia Elena Nurgalieva7 Maxed Elite International
2011 u 5:32:45 Zimbabwe Stephen Muzhingi3 Formula 1 Bluff Meats AC 6:24:11 Russia Elena Nurgalieva6 Maxed Elite International
2010 d 5:29:01 Zimbabwe Stephen Muzhingi2 Formula 1 Bluff Meats AC 6:13:03 Russia Elena Nurgalieva5 Maxed Elite International
2009 d 5:23:27 Zimbabwe Stephen Muzhingi Formula 1 Bluff Meats AC 6:12:08 Russia Olesya Nurgalieva2 Maxed Elite International
2008 u 5:24:49 Russia Leonid Shvetsov2 Harmony International 6:14:38 Russia Elena Nurgalieva4 Maxed Elite International
2007 d 5:20:49 Russia Leonid Shvetsov Harmony International 6:10:11 Russia Olesya Nurgalieva Harmony International
2006 u 5:35:19 Russia Oleg Kharitonov Harmony International 6:09:24 Russia Elena Nurgalieva3 Russia
2005 d 5:27:10 South Africa Sipho Ngomane Harmony AC MPL 5:58:50 Russia Tatyana Zhirkova Russia
2004 u 5:31:22 Belarus Vladimir Kotov3 Maxed Elite PE 6:11:15 Russia Elena Nurgalieva2 Premier AC
2003 d 5:28:52 South Africa Fusi Nhlapo Liberty Nike AC CG 6:07:46 Russia Elena Nurgalieva Russia
2002 u 5:30:59 Belarus Vladimir Kotov2 Maxed Elite International 6:14:21 Germany Maria Bak3 Germany
2001 d 5:25:51 South Africa Andrew Kelehe Rentmeester Fattis & Monis GN 6:13:53 Russia Elvira Kolpakova Russia
2000 u 5:25:33 Belarus Vladimir Kotov Maxed Elite International 6:15:35 Germany Maria Bak2 Germany
1999 d 5:30:10 Poland Jaroslaw Janicki Maxed Elite International 6:31:03 Germany Birgit Lennartz Germany
1998 u 5:26:25 Russia Dmitri Grishin2 Rentmeester Fattis & Monis WP 6:38:57 South Africa Rae Bisschoff Rocky Road Runners
1997 d 5:28:37 South Africa Charl Mattheus Rentmeester Fattis & Monis WP 5:58:24 United States Ann Trason2 USA
1996 u 5:29:33 Russia Dmitri Grishin Rentmeester Fattis & Monis WP 6:13:23 United States Ann Trason USA
1995 d 5:34:02 South Africa Shaun Meiklejohn Maxed Elite KZN 6:22:57 Germany Maria Bak Germany
1994 u 5:38:39 United States Alberto Salazar USA 6:41:23 Russia Valentina Lyakhova Comrades International
1993 d 5:39:41 Germany Charly Doll Germany 6:55:07 South Africa Tilda Tearle Savages AC
1992 u 5:46:11 South Africa Jetman Msutu[note 1] unknown 6:51:05 South Africa Frances van Blerk Magnolia Road Runners
1991 d 5:40:53 South Africa Nick Bester Magnolia Road Runners 6:08:19 South Africa Frith van der Merwe3 Benoni Northerns AC
1990 u 5:40:25 South Africa Bruce Fordyce9 Rand AC 7:02:00 South Africa Naidene Harrison Ladysmith AC
1989 d 5:35:51 South Africa Samuel Tshabalala Spectrum Athletic Club 5:54:43 South Africa Frith van der Merwe2 Benoni Northerns AC
1988 u 5:27:42 South Africa Bruce Fordyce8 Rand AC 6:32:56 South Africa Frith van der Merwe Benoni Northerns AC
1987 u 5:37:01 South Africa Bruce Fordyce7 Rand AC 6:48:42 New Zealand/South Africa Helen Lucre3 Hillcrest Villagers AC
1986 d 5:24:07 South Africa Bruce Fordyce6 Rand AC 6:55:01 New Zealand/South Africa Helen Lucre2 Hillcrest Villagers AC
1985 u 5:37:01 South Africa Bruce Fordyce5 University of Witwatersrand 6:53:24 New Zealand/South Africa Helen Lucre Hillcrest Villagers AC
1984 d 5:27:18 South Africa Bruce Fordyce4 University of Witwatersrand 6:46:35 South Africa Lindsay Weight2 University of Cape Town AC
1983 u 5:30:12 South Africa Bruce Fordyce3 University of Witwatersrand 7:12:56 South Africa Lindsay Weight University of Cape Town AC
1982 d 5:34:22 South Africa Bruce Fordyce2 University of Witwatersrand 7:04:59 South Africa Cheryl Winn Pirates Road Running
1981 u 5:37:28 South Africa Bruce Fordyce University of Witwatersrand 6:44:35 South Africa Isavel Roche-Kelly2 University of Cape Town AC
1980 d 5:38:25 South Africa Alan Robb4 Germiston Callies Harriers 7:18:00 South Africa Isavel Roche-Kelly University of Cape Town AC
1979 u 5:45:02 South Africa Piet Vorster Collegians Harriers 8:22:41 South Africa Jan Mallen unknown
1978 d 5:29:14 South Africa Alan Robb3 Germiston Callies Harriers 8:25: South Africa Lettie van Zyl3 Germiston Callies Harriers
1977 u 5:47:00 South Africa Alan Robb2 Germiston Callies Harriers 8:58: South Africa Lettie van Zyl2 Germiston Callies Harriers
1976 d 5:40:53 South Africa Alan Robb Germiston Callies Harriers 9:05: South Africa Lettie van Zyl Germiston Callies Harriers
1975 u 5:53:00 South Africa Derek Preiss2 Westville AC 10:08: South Africa Elizabeth Cavanagh2 Estcourt AC
1974 u 6:02:49 South Africa Derek Preiss Westville AC 10:40: South Africa Alet Kleynhans Johannesburg Harriers AC
1973 d 5:39:09 South Africa Dave Levick University of Cape Town AC 8:40: South Africa Maureen Holland4 unknown
1972 u 5:48:57 United Kingdom Mick Orton Tipton Harriers 9:26: South Africa Maureen Holland3 unknown
1971 d 5:47:06 South Africa Dave Bagshaw3 Savages AC 8:37: South Africa Maureen Holland2 unknown
1970 u 5:51:27 South Africa Dave Bagshaw2 Savages AC 10:50: South Africa Elizabeth Cavanagh Estcourt AC
1969 d 5:45:35 South Africa Dave Bagshaw Savages AC
1968 u 6:01:11 South Africa Jack Mekler5 Germiston Callies Harriers
1967 d 5:54:10 South Africa Manie Kuhn Savages AC
1966 u 6:14:07 South Africa Tommy Malone Germiston Callies Harriers[79]: 23  9:30:00 South Africa Maureen Holland unknown
1965 d 5:51:09 United Kingdom Bernard Gomersall unknown 10:07: South Africa Mavis Hutchinson Germiston Callies Harriers
1964 u 6:09:54 South Africa Jack Mekler4 Germiston Callies Harriers
1963 d 5:51:20 South Africa Jack Mekler3 Germiston Callies Harriers
1962 u 5:57:05 United Kingdom John Smith unknown
1961 d 6:07:07 South Africa George Claassen Germiston Callies Harriers
1960 u 5:56:32 South Africa Jack Mekler2 Germiston Callies Harriers
1959 d 6:28:11 South Africa Trevor Allen2 Durban AC
1958 u 6:26:26 South Africa Jack Mekler Germiston Callies Harriers
1957 d 6:13:55 South Africa Mercer Davies Germiston Callies Harriers
1956 u 6:33:35 South Africa Gerald Walsh2 Durban AC
1955 d 6:06:32 South Africa Gerald Walsh Durban AC
1954 u 6:12:55 South Africa Wally Hayward5 Germiston Callies Harriers
1953 d 5:52:30 South Africa Wally Hayward4 Germiston Callies Harriers
1952 u 7:00:02 South Africa Trevor Allen Durban AC
1951 d 6:14:08 South Africa Wally Hayward3 Germiston Callies Harriers
1950 u 6:46:25 South Africa Wally Hayward2 Germiston Callies Harriers
1949 d 6:23:21 South Africa Reg Allison unknown
1948 u 7:13:52 South Africa William Savage2 Durban AC
1947 d 6:41:05 South AfricaHardy Ballington5 unknown
1946 u 7:02:40 South Africa Bill Cochrane2 unknown
not held from 1941 to 1945 due to World War II
1940 u 6:39:23 South Africa Allen Boyce Durban AC
1939 d 6:22:05 South Africa Johnny Coleman2 unknown
1938 u 6:32:26 South Africa Hardy Ballington4 unknown
1937 d 6:23:11 South Africa Johnny Coleman unknown
1936 u 6:46:14 South Africa Hardy Ballington3 unknown
1935 d 6:30:05 South Africa Bill Cochrane unknown
1934 u 7:09:03 South Africa Hardy Ballington2 unknown
1933 d 6:50:37 South Africa Hardy Ballington unknown 9:31:25 South Africa Geraldine Watson3 unknown
1932 u 7:41:58 South Africa William Savage Germiston Callies Harriers 11:56:00 South Africa Geraldine Watson2 unknown
1931 d 7:16:30 South Africa Phil Masterton-Smith Natal Carbineers AC 11 hrs + South Africa Geraldine Watson unknown
1930 u 7:27:26 South Africa Wally Hayward Germiston Callies Harriers
1929 d 7:52:00 South Africa Darrell Dale unknown
1928 u 7:49:07 South Africa Frank Sutton unknown
1927 d 6:40:56 South Africa Arthur Newton5 unknown
1926 u 6:57:46 South Africa Harry Phillips unknown
1925 d 6:24:45 South Africa Arthur Newton4 unknown
1924 u 6:58:22 South Africa Arthur Newton3 unknown
1923 d 6:56:00 South Africa Arthur Newton2 unknown 11:35:00 South Africa Frances Hayward unknown
1922 u 8:40:00 South Africa Arthur Newton unknown
1921 d 8:59:00 South Africa Bill Rowan unknown
  1. ^ The 1992 race was won by Charl Mattheus, who was later disqualified, testing positive for a banned stimulant found in cough syrup. Shortly thereafter the particular stimulant was removed from the list of banned substances, but Mattheus was never reinstated as winner.


Course waypoints and distances
Landmark Distance Location
Pietermaritzburg City Hall: down run 5:30 starting point 0 km 29°36′07″S 30°22′46″E / 29.60194°S 30.37944°E / -29.60194; 30.37944 (Pietermaritzburg City Hall)
Scottsville racecourse: up run finish till 17:30 0 km 29°36′42″S 30°23′56″E / 29.61167°S 30.39889°E / -29.61167; 30.39889 (Scottsville racecourse)
Polly Shortts (summit): up run 16:40 cutoff 7 km 29°39′17″S 30°25′34″E / 29.65472°S 30.42611°E / -29.65472; 30.42611 (Polly Shortts (top))
Polly Shortts (bottom) 9 km 29°39′30″S 30°26′32″E / 29.65833°S 30.44222°E / -29.65833; 30.44222 (Polly Shortts (bottom))
Ashburton (Little Pollys) 10 km 29°40′02″S 30°26′51″E / 29.66722°S 30.44750°E / -29.66722; 30.44750 (Ashburton)
Lion Park: down run 8:00 cutoff 14 km 29°41′41″S 30°29′22″E / 29.69472°S 30.48944°E / -29.69472; 30.48944 (Lion Park)
Highest point (2,850 ft / 870 m): up run 15:00 cutoff 18 km 29°42′50″S 30°29′43″E / 29.71389°S 30.49528°E / -29.71389; 30.49528 (Highest point)
Camperdown 25 km 29°43′41″S 30°32′27″E / 29.72806°S 30.54083°E / -29.72806; 30.54083 (Camperdown)
Cato Ridge: up run 13:40, down run 9:50 cutoffs 30 km 29°43′59″S 30°35′25″E / 29.73306°S 30.59028°E / -29.73306; 30.59028 (Cato Ridge)
Harrison Flats 32 km 29°43′37″S 30°36′42″E / 29.72694°S 30.61167°E / -29.72694; 30.61167 (Harrison Flats)
Ethembeni School 34 km 29°43′31″S 30°39′15″E / 29.72528°S 30.65417°E / -29.72528; 30.65417 (Ethembeni School)
Inchanga (summit) 37 km 29°44′40″S 30°40′41″E / 29.74444°S 30.67806°E / -29.74444; 30.67806 (Inchanga)
Halfway mark Drummond: up, down run 11:40 cutoffs 43 km 29°44′58″S 30°42′08″E / 29.74944°S 30.70222°E / -29.74944; 30.70222 (Halfway mark, Drummond)
Arthur's Seat 44 km 29°45′13″S 30°42′21″E / 29.75361°S 30.70583°E / -29.75361; 30.70583 (Arthur's Seat)
Wall of Honour 45 km 29°45′15″S 30°42′27″E / 29.75417°S 30.70750°E / -29.75417; 30.70750 (Wall of Honour)
Alverstone 47 km 29°45′32″S 30°43′19″E / 29.75889°S 30.72194°E / -29.75889; 30.72194 (Alverstone)
Botha's Hill (summit) 49 km 29°44′56″S 30°44′12″E / 29.74889°S 30.73667°E / -29.74889; 30.73667 (Botha's Hill)
Kearsney College 51 km 29°45′30″S 30°45′08″E / 29.75833°S 30.75222°E / -29.75833; 30.75222 (Kearsney College)
Hillcrest 54 km 29°46′48″S 30°45′49″E / 29.78000°S 30.76361°E / -29.78000; 30.76361 (Hillcrest)
Winston Park: up run 10:00, down run 13:30 cutoffs 56 km 29°47′39″S 30°47′06″E / 29.79417°S 30.78500°E / -29.79417; 30.78500 (Winston Park)
Kloof 61 km 29°47′28″S 30°49′58″E / 29.79111°S 30.83278°E / -29.79111; 30.83278 (Kloof)
Fields Hill 64 km 29°47′38″S 30°50′57″E / 29.79389°S 30.84917°E / -29.79389; 30.84917 (Fields Hill)
Pinetown: up run 08:10, down run 14:50 cutoffs 67 km 29°49′01″S 30°52′00″E / 29.81694°S 30.86667°E / -29.81694; 30.86667 (Pinetown)
Cowies Hill (summit) 72 km 29°49′45″S 30°53′09″E / 29.82917°S 30.88583°E / -29.82917; 30.88583 (Cowies Hill)
Westville 78 km 29°49′57″S 30°55′56″E / 29.83250°S 30.93222°E / -29.83250; 30.93222 (Westville)
45th Cutting: down run 16:30 cutoff 80 km 29°49′58″S 30°58′07″E / 29.83278°S 30.96861°E / -29.83278; 30.96861 (45th Cutting)
Durban City Hall: up run 5:30 starting point 87 km 29°51′29″S 31°01′32″E / 29.85806°S 31.02556°E / -29.85806; 31.02556 (Durban City Hall)
Moses Mabhida Stadium: down run finish till 17:30 90 km 29°49′40″S 31°01′50″E / 29.82778°S 31.03056°E / -29.82778; 31.03056 (Moses Mabhida Stadium)

First South African[edit]

A plaque in honour of Robert Mtshali, a finisher in 1935, though non-white athletes only competed officially since 1975. The Robert Mtshali medal was introduced in 2019.

As the race has grown in profile globally, and since the end of sporting isolation, international runners have come to dominate the race for periods of time. As a result, the first South African home each year is also now awarded a separate prize.

The following have had the distinction of being the first male and female South African across the finish line (overall finishing position in brackets), in years where the winner was an international runner:


  • 2024 Dan Moselakwe, Nedbank Running Club, (2nd)
  • 2011 Fanie Matshipa, Samcor Marathon Club PE, (2nd)
  • 2010 Ludwick Mamabolo, Maxed Elite CGA, (2nd)
  • 2009 Charles Tjiane, Maxed Elite CGA, (3rd)
  • 2008 Harmans Mokgadi, Nedbank Running Club GN, (6th)
  • 2007 Mncedisi Mkhize, Maxed Elite CGA, (3rd)
  • 2006 Brian Zondi, Harmony AC CG, (2nd)
  • 2004 Willie Mtolo, Harmony AC CG, (4th)
  • 2002 Willie Mtolo, Harmony AC CG, (2nd)
  • 2000 Donovan Wright, Maxed Elite PE, (4th)
  • 1999 Andrew Kelehe, Rentmeester Fattis & Monis WP, (2nd)
  • 1998 Charl Mattheus, Rentmeester Fattis & Monis WP, (2nd)
  • 1996 Nick Bester, Tuks Road Runners Club, (2nd)
  • 1994 Nick Bester, Tuks Road Runners Club, (2nd)
  • 1993 Theo Rafiri, club unknown, (2nd)
  • 1972 Dave Bagshaw, Savages AC, (2nd)
  • 1965 Jackie Mekler, Germiston Callies Harriers, (2nd)
  • 1962 Jackie Mekler, Germiston Callies Harriers, (2nd)


  • 2022 Adele Broodryk, Murray & Roberts AC NW, (3rd)
  • 2017 Charné Bosman, Nedbank Running Club GN, (2nd)
  • 2014 Caroline Wostmann, Nedbank Running Club GN, (6th)
  • 2013 Charné Bosman, Bonitas AC CG, (5th)
  • 2012 Kerry Koen, Bonitas AC CG, (4th)
  • 2011 Farwa Mentoor, Bonitas AC CG, (5th)
  • 2010 Farwa Mentoor, Bonitas AC CG, (5th)
  • 2009 Farwa Mentoor, Bonitas AC CG, (5th)
  • 2008 Riana van Niekerk, Maxed Elite CGA, (6th)
  • 2007 Farwa Mentoor, Harmony AC GN, (4th)
  • 2006 Farwa Mentoor, Harmony AC GN, (6th)
  • 2005 Farwa Mentoor, Harmony AC GN, (4th)
  • 2004 Farwa Mentoor, Harmony AC GN, (3rd)
  • 2003 Farwa Mentoor, Harmony AC GN, (8th)
  • 2002 Farwa Mentoor, Adidas AC, (4th)
  • 2001 Deborah Mattheus, Harmony AC GW, (2nd)
  • 2000 Grace de Oliveira, Maxed Elite KZN, (3rd)
  • 1999 Grace de Oliveira, Maxed Elite KZN, (2nd)
  • 1997 Charlotte Noble, club unknown, (5th)
  • 1996 Jowaine Parrott, Tygervalley Bellville AC, (4th)
  • 1995 Helene Joubert, Agape AC GN, (2nd)
  • 1994 Sanet Beukes, Westville AC, (4th)

Medals and demographics[edit]

There is a lot of prestige associated with a Comrades Marathon Green Number. As a result, many athletes aim to complete at least 10 races, which is evident as a clear peak in the distribution of medal counts.[80] The introduction of the back-to-back medal (for running two years in succession) resulted in another peak for athletes with 2 medals.


Popular culture[edit]

The Long Run was a 2001 film set in 1999, in which a retired running coach trains a woman for the race.[81] 'Comrades' was a 2008 film about seven diverse runners attempting the race.[82]


  1. ^ An announcement was first made on 2020.04.17 that the race was postponed, before the announcement was made on 2020.05.14 that the race was cancelled.[26][27]


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External links[edit]