Barry Holland has finished the Comrades Marathon more times than any other runner, so if he says Sunday’s Durban City Marathon is a perfect qualifier then it is worth taking note.
The fast flat beachfront course for the Durban City Marathon starting and finishing at King’s Park Athletic Stadium is considered one of the easier Comrades qualifiers and a perfect chance for runners to get in a long training run. This week Holland endorsed that view.
It seems his opinion is spreading and Durban and KwaZulu-Natal road runners have suddenly woken up to the fact there is a relatively easy Comrades qualifier on their doorstep and entries are pouring in for the Durban City Marathon.
Entries for the flat beachfront race close on Tuesday and over the weekend almost 1 000 online entries were received in a flurry of activity.
Early on Monday morning the number of entries stood at just under 3 500 and the race organisers, Phantane Athletics Club, are confident the number will get over 4 000 before entries close, and they are hopeful the number will reach over 5 000 with late entries at registration on Friday and Saturday.
One person who knows the value of a good preparation better than anybody else is Holland, who holds the record for the most Comrades finishes. The 67-year-old will be attempting his 47th Comrades in June, and just for good measure his wife Debbie will be aiming for her 21st finish. Both will be taking part in the Durban City Marathon on Sunday.
“I have already qualified for Comrades so I do not need a qualifier,” said Holland on Monday. “However, I am still doing this race because it is such an ideal training run for athletes who are taking part in the Comrades.
“It is an ideal qualifier — it is a two lapper that is flat, so it is a hell of an easy qualifier and anybody who is thinking of doing Comrades should be able to go under the four hours 50 needed to qualify.
“My whole club, Dolphin Coast Striders, is coming along and we will be running in a 4:30 bus. There is a great atmosphere and this makes for a really nice training run. Most Comrades runners will be planning a 45km run around this time so we will be doing a three- or four-kilometre warmup and then using the marathon as our long training run for the weekend.
“It just works so well on so many levels.”
Remarkably Holland has finished his 46 Comrades consecutively, which is ample proof that he knows how to prepare for the Comrades without suffering injuries. So, when he says the Durban City Marathon is a perfect Comrades qualifier, it is worth taking note.
The Durban City Marathon offers a standard 42,2km distance for those looking to get their Comrades times, as well as a half-marathon 21,1km distance and a 10km event.
Online entries for the Durban City Marathon close at midnight on April 2 (entries through www.webtickets.co.za). Athletes can also drop off hand-delivered entries at the KZNA offices at King’s Park Athletics stadium between 8am and 4pm until Tuesday April 2 (with proof of payment).
Hand delivered entries will also be accepted at all Pick n Pay stores, including PnP Clothing, PnP Liquor and PnP Express. Entries will be taken until the close of business for each store on April 2.
Late entries for all the Durban City Marathon events will be taken at race number collection at King’s Park Athletics Stadium on Friday April 5 (10am to 4pm) or Saturday April 6 (10am to 2pm).
No late entries will be accepted on the day.
For more race details and bank details visit the official race website www.durbancitymarathon.co.za.