Vereeniging — According to the official Comrades Marathon coach, Lindsey Parry, this weekend’s Sedibeng Marathon is held at the perfect time to qualify for the Pietermaritzburg to Durban ultra marathon.
Writing on his Coach Parry website, the respected athletics coach says he believes “… it is a good idea …” for Comrades hopefuls “… to get a qualifier towards the end of the year.”
That means Sunday’s 42,2km marathon, which starts and finishes at the Vaal Showgrounds in Vereeniging, should fit perfectly into the training and racing schedule of runners hoping to take part in the 2020 Comrades and Two Oceans marathons.
The relatively flat circular route for Sunday’s race provides a comparatively fast marathon and should produce some quick times for both the barcode-thin elite racers and those simply looking to dip under the Comrades and Two Oceans qualifying times.
Parry’s rationale for qualifying at the end of the year is simple: “It takes a lot out of you to run a really good marathon, which means you then need to recover. It is always a good idea to get your Comrades Marathon qualification done as soon as possible.
“If you can do it in the fourth quarter of the year before you aim to run Comrades, that is ideal. Or if you really can’t run a marathon in October, November or December, then as early in the new year as possible is the best.
“If you leave it late to qualify, into April, for example — what essentially happens is that you need to then recover from that. If you try and smash a marathon as hard as you can to get a great Comrades qualifying time, you’re risking missing out on a key time in your Comrades training.
“You’re essentially recovering in the time we really want to be training the hardest and doing the biggest mileage for Comrades.
“That is the reason I want to encourage you to try and qualify for the Comrades Marathon as early as you can.”
A lot of athletes seem to be taking the advice of “Coach Parry” with more than half of Sunday’s nearly 2 000 Sedibeng Marathon entrants opting to take part in the longer 42,2km marathon. Runners also have the option of taking part in a 21,1km half marathon, a 10km or the 5km fun run.
Online entries have closed, but late entries for all events will be accepted at the race registration on Friday and Saturday at the start and finish venue at the Vaal Showgrounds. Registration and number collection will take place from 9am to 3pm on Friday and Saturday and from 4am to 5.30am on Sunday before the race. The marathon and half marathon starts at 6am on Sunday with the 10km and 5km fun run starting at 6.30am.
The qualifying criteria for next year’s Comrades Marathon is to complete a standard 42.2km marathon in under 4 hours and 50 minutes while Two Oceans sets a time limit of five hours as their qualifying mark. That means that Comrades hopefuls have to complete the 42,2km event at an average pace of six minutes and 52 seconds per kilometre.
Parking and car guards will be available at the grounds. More information and route maps can be found at https://finishtime.co.za/sedibeng2019/