Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 159 June 2023 | Page 27

finish time . The graph also provides some fascinating insights like :
• Just how rare a negative split is at Comrades – there were just 83 in 2022 .
• The potential cheats – anyone who runs a big negative split comes under scrutiny .
• The amazing straight regression line for men that finish under 6-hours .
• The runner who hit the wall the hardest – he ran
the second half almost five hours slower than the first !
These might be hard to spot , so I ’ ve indicated them on the graphic , but you don ’ t need any help appreciating that the female clustering is much closer to an even split and that a disproportionate number of female runners achieve negative splits .
The next graph is the most powerful illustration of just how much better the fairer sex fares over Comrades . This plots all 2022 Comrades finishers with the x-axis representing the split ratio , which is the ratio of time for the second half compared to the first half . Those left of the dotted line ran a negative split , those on the right were slower over the second half .
If you were wondering whether 2022 was a once off , the same trend was present at the previous Down run in 2018 . The graph below shows that 2018 ’ s trends were almost perfectly replicated in 2022 for every seeding batch . The long tail of the men ’ s plot in each seeding category paints a sad picture for those saddled with a Y chromosome .
The final graph provides an interesting split by split storyboard as to how Comrades race-day panned out in each seeding batch . Men are invariably out of the starting blocks and haring towards Durban at a much faster pace than women , but they are already starting to slow down and get caught by the 30-kilometre mark at Cato Ridge . After that , it ’ s no longer a competition . The mares rein in the stallions , outperforming them all the way to the finish line in Durban . Note the triangles at the bottom of each grid line – this indicates who is faster and by how much at each split .
The Stats Don ’ t Lie
Female readers can stop here , the last paragraph is purely advice for the weaker sex …
There is always plenty of chatter about pacing in the build-up to Comrades . However , on the basis of this data , you should throw away your pacing charts . If you can ’ t run like a girl , run with a female friend . Ego will get you to enter Comrades , testosterone will get you to the start line , and they ’ ll both get you to the 30-kilometre mark faster than your wife , girlfriend , sister or female clubmate , but when it comes to running ultra-marathons , testosterone is toxic for your masculinity . Ego will leave you limping over the line , and for those that are fortunate enough to run with your wife , remember that you ’ re not pacing her , she ’ s pacing you !
Images : Courtesy Comrades Marathon Association , Action Photo SA , Stuart Mann , Andrew Collier
About the Author
The Running Mann has run over 240 marathons and ultras around the world , and his current mission is to run every marathon in South Africa , so he is particularly looking forward to running the 45k Timbavati Traverse on 9 July . If you ’ d like him to run your race or talk at your event , email therunningmann @ gmail . com . You can follow his adventures on Twitter , Facebook or Instagram , and on his popular blog .