Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 159 June 2023 | Page 25

better at Comrades . This finding proves a longheld perception that women are better Comrades runners than men . Here is the proof – but I think the magnitude thereof will take everyone by surprise .
Time for a Little Competition
At Comrades 2022 there were eight published timing splits ( where timing mats were placed on the route ),
nine seeding start batches and six different medals on offer , providing a total of 120 splits where we can compare the male and female performance . Let ’ s split these into 60 first half splits and 60 second half splits . If we then do a round by round ‘ Battle of the Sexes ’, comparing the average time over that split ( i . e . by seeding batch and medal earned ) and awarded a point to the gender that won each split – how many of
the 60 first half splits do you think were won by men and how many were won by women ? Likewise , what do you think the male / female win rate was for the 60 second half splits ?
Now , before you continue reading , have a look at the table below and make a calculated guess on the first and second half gender split winner ratio .
When I ’ ve posed this question to an audience , most people correctly predict that men dominate the first half . Men do indeed ‘ win ’ the first half of Comrades in a landslide of 52 to eight splits . However , it ’ s where women win that ’ s interesting . All eight of the wins come in the fourth and final split of the first half ( between Cato Ridge and the halfway mark at Drummond ). It ’ s a case of ‘ buy now , pay later ’ and the tide already starts to turn at the 30-kilometre mark .
Men are faster in every seeding for the first 30km , but the women emerge as the dominant gender in the final split of the first half when comparing Comrades runners by seeding batch ( above ), and it ’ s just the final Vic Clapham split that spoils the male medal domination over the first half of Comrades ( below ).
In the second half , most people guess that women will win , but I ’ ve never had anyone come close to guessing just how much better women perform over the second half of Comrades . It ’ s women over men by a massive 55 to 5 , and a clean-sweep of female split wins on the second half is only prevented by the gold medal category ( the only ‘ non time-based ’ medal ) and the post-halfway silver split .
As you can see , it ’ s a full house for the women in the second half by seeding batch ( above ). Amazingly , the average pace for women is faster than that of the men for every single split by seeding batch in the second half . Meanwhile , it ’ s just the gold medallists and the first silver split that maintains some dignity for the men in the second half of Comrades ( below ).