The Comrades Marathon is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest ultra marathon and draws hopeful candidates from across the world to compete. The variety of entrants is what really makes the Comrades marathon unique. Shoulders brush between the world’s top runners and your neighbour down the street, camaraderie links people who would otherwise have never moved in the same circles and poignant experiences are shared along the route that turn complete strangers into lifelong friends.
With this in mind it is understandable why every year the race draws the crowd that it does. Not only do the competitors benefit from the race’s challenge, but the supporters on the side gather in their thousands, fulfilling an important encouraging role and sharing in the special moments of the day.
The 2012 Comrades Marathon was entered by approximately 20 000 individuals. 15176 men and 4348 women. Along the route a number of items were distributed including, 2 000 000 sachets of water, 7840 kg’s of oranges, 1200 kg’s of biscuits and 2 tons of potatoes!
Following the leading men and women’s leg of the race through the bitterly cold morning, we photographed their journey of 89km until the finish line. On the women’s side, Elena Nurgalieva crossed the line first with Eleanor Greenwood 1 minute and 12 seconds behind. From then on we moved on to the last bus; the hordes of runners putting their all into making it to the end within the time-limit. The elation of those who cross the line is bittersweet as you watch the many who just miss the cut-off, some within seconds.
The roller-coaster of emotions that the Comrades Marathon entails, while at times harsh, also forms the character of the route and the reason why so many people return. The chance to conquer the route and experience both the hardships and joys will continue to motivate thousands of runners to enter in the years to come.