More Comrades dropouts than expected – race director

Comrades Marathon race director Johan van Staden says the combination of heat and strong headwinds caused more than 10% of the usual number of nonfinishers in Sunday’s marathon.

“Normally about 20% of the runners drop out, and this year it was just over 30%,” Van Staden said today.

“The berg wind combined with heat caused more dropouts than usual.”

According to reports, temperatures in KwaZulu-Natal had soared to over 30° during the 86km race.

Van Staden, however, said the organisers had contingency plans in place for extreme conditions, and lauded the Comrades medical team, led by Dr Jeremy Boulter, for their efforts on race day.

“We thought we would be at the finish until 10pm, but by 7pm the medical tent had been cleared.”

More than 14 000 people started the race, but around 4 000 did not finish, Van Staden confirmed.

Boulter said 833 runners were treated at the finish venue in Pietermaritzburg, while 366 were attended to at the main medical tent.

The majority of patients were treated for dehydration and exhaustion.

A total of 96 runners were treated at St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban or St Anne’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

“The main medical tent usually sees an average of 250 patients on race day, but this year was different and more demanding in that we attended to 68% more patients,” Boulter said.

“However, the team was equal to the task and all runners needing assistance found themselves in safe hands.”

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