Comrades Marathon_2018… Impressive showcase by Indians in Durban.
The 93rd Comrades Marathon for 2018 edition was held on Sunday, the 10th of June, in the city of Durban at South Africa. The world's largest and oldest ultramarathon race, of approximately 90 km (55 miles), is an annual run held between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg at South Africa. The reputation of this event can be easily understood by the fact that, the organizing committee has to cap the field-size at max. 20,000 runners. And it’s not so easy to get a berth in the list. The applicant has to have earlier completed an officially recognised marathon (42.2 km) in under five hours to be eligible to apply. Also, during the event an athlete must reach five cut-off points in specified times to complete the race, and the race itself has to be completed within 12 hr at max, to become an official finisher. Runners from 70 odd countries participate in this event, with more than 50% of them being from South Africa itself.
For this 2018 edition, out of 20,000 racers (both sexes), only 13,106 men and 3,371 women could complete the race in time. South African Bongmusa was the overall Men’s champion to finish the 90 km mark in an unbelievable 5hr 26 min timing. He was followed by another 13,105 men runners, who finished within the officially acceptable time limit of 12 hrs. And, fellow South African Ann Ashworth was Women’s winner with a strong finish of 6 hr 10 min, ahead of 3370 other women legitimate finishers.
This is Bongmusa Mthembu’s 3rd Comrade Win after 2014 and 2017 victory, and his fastest finish as well. The performance was highly impressive, but no close to the meet records. The event record for men’s race, for this particular route, has been set by South African David Gatebe at 5hr 18 min, during 2016 edition. And fellow South African Frith van der Merwe set women’s meet record of 5 hr 54 min at 1989 edition. With this year’s double victory, South Africa retains the men’s crown for 79th time and women’s one for 35th time itself (of 55 editions). It’s also the 7th straight win for South Africa after Stephen Muzhingi of Zimbawe was dominating the field for 3 years during 2009-2011.
Sandeep Kumar was the First Indian Finisher for 2018 edition, with an impressive timing of 7 hr 30 min. Unfortunately, he narrowly missed the Silver Medal by few seconds, that is awarded to all finishers between 6 hr and (sub) 7 hr 30 min. He was followed by Sachin, Binay, and Ashok to taste the glory of finishing within a respectable 9 hr time, and were awarded with Bill Rowan medals (sub 9 hr finishers). A total of 119 Indian men’s participants finished the race within the official 12 hr limitation, and of them 70 were awarded the Bronze medal (sub 11 hr finishers). In the female division, Gurmeet Soni Bhalla was the Indian winner with 10 hr 43 min timing, and was closely followed by Neha Lodha and Taru Mateti. Another 11 Indian women finished the race within the restrictions of 12 hr time constraint.