Fifty-six viciously long miles of uphill and downhill, racing a 12-hour ticking clock that could result in either one of the most rewarding or disappointing experiences of your life. Complete the track in time and cross the finish line -- but one second too late, and your name won’t even be recorded.
That’s the challenge seven Team World Vision runners are up against this weekend at the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. After running the race last year, we’re returning to take up the ultimate cause once again -- 56 miles for 56 sponsored children; one sponsored child for every mile of the race.
That may be the only reason we need to be at Comrades this year. But here’s six more reasons for you to tune into this weekend’s race:
It’s the world's largest and oldest ultramarathon. The race is approximately 90 kilometers (56 miles) between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg (that is pronounced Peter-merits-berg) in South Africa. About 18,000 people are registered from all over the world.
To see who will cross the finish line. Comrades is a race against time -- with a 12-hour cut-off time for completion. About 80 percent of the race-finishers will cross the line in the final hour of the race. Last year, all 18 Team World Vision runners finished before the cut-off. We are hoping for 100 percent to race the clock again this year.
Andy Baldwin and Kendall Brubaker approach the stadium and the finish line after 89kilometers, nearly 56 miles. ©2010 Andrea Peer/World Vision
It’s the uphill year. Every year, Comrades switches the direction of the track. Last year, it was the run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. This year, we run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. Both directions are extremely hilly, but this direction is called the uphill because it has a net uphill grade -- 10,000 feet of climbing. And it starts with a 13-mile uphill section early in the race.
For sportsmanship. Five new runners will join two Team World Vision Comrades veterans, making for a total of seven Team World Vision runners this year who will run beside athletes from around the globe. The team members are Valerie Irving, Carrie Schlough, Michael Chitwood, Paul Courtney, Neil Craigan, Dave Martinellie, and Marty Infante.
To support kids from Chicago. This year, Rusty Funk (who ran Comrades with Team World Vision last year) is bringing an ambitious group of six kids from Breakthrough Urban Ministry’s running club in one of Chicago’s most under-served communities. These young runners are joining the ultimate cause to find sponsors for other children around the world. Read more from Breakthrough runners.
To help children in need. For every mile you watch of the Comrades Marathon, we're hoping another child is sponsored -- 56 miles for 56 sponsored children! Join Team World Vision Comrades runners in the ultimate cause by sponsoring a child.
Race day information
Date: Sunday, 29 May 2011 (*8:00 pm PST, 28 May 2011)
Start: 05h30 in Durban
Finish: 17h30 in Pietermaritzburg
Distance: 89 kilometers, or 56 miles
Tune into the race live on Comrades.com
See highlights from last year’s race
- Watch the Team World Vision story.
- Watch 50K American record-holder Josh Cox meet his sponsored child after the 2010 Comrades Marathon.