Kerry Koen, the first SA women home during the 2012 down-run, advised 2013 runners to prepare sensibly, ahead of entries opening for the up-run's strictly-limited 18,000 participants on Spring Day. Photo: Supplied

Entries for the 2013 Comrades Marathon open on Spring Day, 1 September, and 2012’s top placed SA runner, Kerry Koen, has urged first timers to plan well and enjoy the race.

Organisers announced this week that the entry period closes on 30 November 2012 or as soon as the cap of 18,000 entries has been reached. The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has encouraged prospective entrants to get their entries in early, so as to not be left disappointed.

Koen says: “Be sensible in training. Don’t over-train. Bruce Fordyce often says rather be underdone than overdone. Prepare thoroughly. Enjoy your first one. Don’t set unrealistic targets. If you are really serious, work on a two-year plan.”

Koen, who finished this year’s Comrades Marathon in sixth position in a time of 6:45:44, said she is looking to improve on her performance next year.

“I am working towards getting the same results or improve, maybe a position improvement. It’s all based on time. You go for a time rather than a position. I knew this year I would get into the top 10 with a 6:45.”

Reflecting on her run in this year’s race, she said: “Everything went well in this year’s race. I set a target for 6:45 and I achieved it. I wasn’t expecting to be the top-placed South African woman, but planning went well and I was really happy with my performance.”

There’s been a lot of talk about foreign domination of the women’s race and Koen believes running clubs need to work together to turn this around.

“We don’t work as a team here in South Africa. And perhaps we need to find ways to work together… Everyone here has their own individual training programmes, going out to do their best.

“But when you look at the Nurgalieva twins, they come with a plan. They work together, look out for each other on the route, and talk to each other. They support each other and that is really important. It’s all in the family and they both want each other to do well.”

In terms of training for next year’s race, Koen says her training has already started: “You have to go in to the New Year with a base. Gym and cross training work must be established by then. From January, you are training full steam ahead for the Comrades.

“At the moment, I am fit and racing. But, it all happens in cycles. It builds up for six weeks, and then it tapers off, and then you start again.”

In a statement, the CMA said it was all set for another magnificent showdown for next year’s race, come Sunday, 2 June 2013. Being an ‘up-run’, the start gun will fire off outside Durban’s City Hall at 05h30, and go off again 12 hours later at Pietermaritzburg’s Cricket Oval to signal the finish of the 86.9km road-running challenge.

The CMA has once again catered generously for its South African runners who will be eligible for the ‘early bird’ entry fee of R300 (the same cost as in 2012) if their entry is received by 30 September 2012. The new increased entry fee of R320 will kick in on 1 October 2012 until the entry process is closed. Runners from the Rest of Africa will be charged an entry fee of R500 and the cost to International athletes is $US180.

Other great news for runners is that the Substitution Rule, approved for implementation in 2012 by the CMA, is part and parcel of the 2013 Comrades entry process. This will apply for the month of April 2013 and more details may be found online at www.comrades.com

The entry requirements, which are clearly indicated on the entry form, must be strictly complied with at all times or runners may risk losing their place at the Start.

Runners may enter as follows:

  • Online via the Comrades Marathon website: www.comrades.com;
  • At Mr Price Sport, Home and Clothing stores countrywide;
  • Through the post by posting the completed entry form with proof of payment to the CMA Office in Pietermaritzburg: P.O. Box 100621, Scottsville, 3209;
  • Comrades Marathon House: by handing in the completed entry form together with payment at the CMA office in Pietermaritzburg.
  • Please note that the CMA office will be open from 08h00 to 12h00 on the first day of the entry process – Saturday, 1 September 2012.
  • Qualifying details must be submitted to the CMA by 6 May 2013.