Re-post: What is it like to train for and run Comrades, one of oldest ultra Marathons in the World?

Updated: Sep 7

A first hand account of the possibly the oldest ultra marathon in the world and the ultimate human race by Ian Baynes - adapted from the original article in June 2019 and now including a video of the very cruel finish to this race.


For those not aware, The Comrades Marathon is technically an #ultra, the distance being measured at approximately 88km on an ‘Up’ Year and 91km the following or on a ‘Down’ year.

That’s equivalent of 54-57 Miles or approx. 2.1 imperial marathons. Sounds like a stretch but achievable, right? What could be so hard, I’d think to myself? I’ve travelled quite a bit, I’ve been to South Africa many times, I’ve done a little bit of running myself over the years, I’ve cycled from the top of France to the bottom and I have run longer than a Marathon several times before, and besides, I love a challenge. I start to do my research....

Acknowledgments & gratitude

Before we delve into my experience at the 2019 Comrades Marathon itself, I’d like to thank my friend and anglicised South African, Marc Starfield, who first mentioned Comrades to me in 2003.

I’s also like to thank Gus Davidson, a fellow Kenilworth Runners club mate, Comrades finisher and current club record holder since 2004. I’d like to thank Max Mladenovic from Knowle & Dorridge Running Club, a 2018 & 2019 back to back finisher, Baljit Chohan from Solihull (not affiliated) and also 2018 & 2019 back to back finisher.

I also like to acknowledge and thank Dave Pettifer, my Coach (yes Coaches can have a Coach) for his input, David Ross, the UK Comrades Ambassador, Mark-Taylor Weir, ultra-runner and Spine Racer for his support in the race build-up and prediction that one day I would run longer than a Marathon when I sat in his office many, many years ago and I’d just finished my first 10km. I didn’t believe him then, but how life is different and much better now!

In particular, I also like to single out the following very special people whom have I been running and/or crewing with over the years. All of those below have inspired me to run longer, further, in more challenging conditions and with more elevation including Michael Scandrett, a sub-24 Bob Graham Rounder, multiple Centurion & Thames Path 100 ultra runner & RunWithIan Life Time Member; Richard Broadbent, the first man to actually show me you won’t die when you run on the edge of ‘suicide pace’; Andy Snow, another Centurion, ex. Army, master of making a brew and eating whilst on the go and also another RunWithIan LifeTime Member; Pamela Grimwade a fellow Kenilworth Runners Youth Team Coach, and, last but by no means least, another Centurion, Youth Team Coach & Club Mate & RunWithIan LifeTime Member Colin Bailey who in his own right is an outstanding ultra-runner (and takes on the GUCR145 at the end of May) a great listener, supporter and encourager.

Summer 2018: 11 months before race day