SOLD OUT – the New Phenomenon

COMRADES MARATHON SOLD OUT and then sold out again 21500 entries in just 21 days.

TWO OCEANS 56km SOLD OUT their 11000 entries in two days.

Those are the big two, but then there is Om die Dam a 50km way up north. An established event of 28 years, but not one that is expected to receive a rush of entries right?

Wrong. Entries opened on 6 November and by 8 November only 50% were left and as I write they may well be all gone.

Where did this hysteria pop up from? Well it did not just arrive. Every time a landmark is reached in respect of race anniversaries, the new millennium or 2010 entries have shot up.

The Two Oceans 56km took a bit of a knock when the half marathon was introduced and took a while to recover its previous numbers, but then in 2014 the entries sold out a week before closing for the first time. In 2015 they were sold out a month before and in 2016 by 2 January , just 32 days after they opened, they were all gone.

This year after what happened at Comrades and with the momentum of previous years it was predicted that it would take Two Oceans two weeks. It actually took only two days.

So, what is this new phenomenon and what does it mean to us as runners in respect of our training and racing?

First, we need more than ever before to be totally focussed on what we are doing and be meticulous in our planning.

Runners who perform at a meaningful level need a coach more now than ever before and may in fact need even more support on the logistical side.

Being a member of a running club has always been essential to the big ultras, but choosing a club that has infrastructure, experienced coaching and training methods along with innovation is ever more important.


So the pressure is off. Your entry is in and been accepted. Be sure your 2018 fees and licence are all in tact as this will need to be verified by the race organisation and club.

In respect of Two Oceans training should already be underway given that it is a few weeks earlier in 2018. If you do not have a coach – find one.

Comrades however, is only on 10 June and should not be top of mind at all.

It is not often that Two Oceans and Comrades can be raced in the same year, without serious doubt as to recovery, optimum performance and so on.

2018 is however a much kinder year in that there is an 11 week break between the two. Still not completely ideal, but certainly manageable for athletes who are able to focus on their running, training and rest periods.

With Two Oceans early I would suggest skipping a qualifying marathon in 2018 if you have a reasonable one in the bag.

So my athletes would be encouraged to focus on Two Oceans, racing a half marathon, a couple of 10kms and maybe a 32. The 56km could then be raced and a personal best recorded, followed by a few easy weeks before embarking on Comrades specific work outs.

If they are not running Two Oceans and Comrades is the goal, then a well prepared for Buffs Marathon in East London, South Africa would be the call with a pb or “close to” being the objective. That takes place on 18 February, allowing for two weeks recovery and then easing into Comrades training through March, April and May.

It is so important to have a coach who has been there and experienced some of the pitfalls to racing ultra marathons or indeed any other distance. Listening to friends or competitors is fool hardy. They possibly mean well, but have no real vested interest in your success and probably harbour illusions of beating you anyway. And so they should.

Friends are for socialising and racing is for winning no matter how humble the goal.

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