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“I’ve successfully completed the Comrades Marathon 2019, The Ultimate Human endurance ultramarathon up-run and completed the race in 11 hrs 13 minutes will within the 12-hour official cut off time,” Says 50 years old Elango Shanmugam ecstatically.

Elango has been with the KaysFIT Academy for more than 2 years now.
Elango Shanmugam at the Comrades finish line, Pietermaritzburg

How was the experience of running the Ultimate Human?

Comrades Marathon had really tested my endurance limits. I’ve run the 110 km distance in Malnad Ultra, 75k in Jawathu and the 60k OOTYULTRA couple of times and the experience at the Comrades was very unique. With 6 cutoff points during the 12-hour race and I had to be on a constant move all the time. This was my first international run and I had a very enriching experience of running along with more than 20,000 runners from all over the world across different age categories.

I could find many regular runners and many of them even participated more than 10 times. There also few ultrarunners have done 40 + Comrades under their belt. The support the runners receive from organizers and the South Africans was simply amazing. There were many people came on the roads throughout the hills between Durban and Pietermaritzburg to cheer and encourage the runners. They celebrate this event as a festival. The weather on the race day was cloudy and pleasant most of the day creating a perfect ambience for running an ultramarathon. There were 200+ registered runners from India. The race started at 5.30 AM in Durban. The starting ceremony was wonderful and emotional too.

How did you train for the Comrades?

My formal training for the Comrades Marathon started back in January. I ran my fastest full marathon at the Chennai Marathon and used that as a qualifier at the Comrades Marathon.

Coach Kay has groomed me as a marathoner to this level. He had rolled out a training plan focusing on several aspects of my physical and mental training needs. There were regular long runs scheduled on the mountains after January.

  • Self-supported run of 50 k at Yelagiri in February
  • Val Vil Ori Ultra in Kolli hills 56 KMS in March
  • OOTYULTRA 60 k in April
  • 7 hr ~56k run in Yercaud run supported by Coach Kay in May.

These practices, along with his regular advice and reviews had helped me to achieve a comfortable and strong finish in comrades. All his guidance as being a Comrade runner by himself was very helpful

3 of my running buddies from Chennai including Vasu Rangachary & Satyashil Pradhan (both are my co-trainees in the KaysFIT Academy) and Venkat from Trichy travelled together to South Africa. We also had trained on all our long runs in the last 6 months time.

Elango, Venkat, Satya and Vasu

How did the running part go?

I had a steady run and covered my first 44 KMS in 5:20 hrs. After crossing Drummond, the first half, I wanted to have a relaxing run since my focus was to finish the run around 11 hrs 30 mints, after completing about 65 Kms I thought to give my best till the end of the run since my body was very supportive. I slightly pushed, reduced the number of breaks in between and had a great run till the finishing point

How was your finish? What did you really experience?

I realized that all four of us had a fabulous and strong finish. This run really tested the physical and mental endurance until the last meter. I happened to see many runners falling due to slipping and also cramping. A few runners had nearly fainted right in front of my eyes just a few kilometres before finishing point. I was very careful rather pushing beyond my limit than to have a comfortable finish.

Will you run the Comrades Marathon again?

I guess so, but I haven’t decided. I’ll be more confident if I had to run the Comrades again.

Who are the other people who supported you in achieving this?

Thanks to by running friends Balaji Thulasiraman and Satyashil Pradhan. They had encouraged me to register the Comrades in Oct 2018. Satya took all initiatives including registration, ticket and room booking. His efforts helped me in having a comfortable journey. Since he is a back to back participant at the Comrades, he took care of every need. 

I’m also thankful to my parents for their blessings and my dear family for their support towards all my practice needs. Thanks, tower Twisters friends and all other running friends for their wishes and encouragements which really gave me the moral support

Elango leaves us with an emotional note by dedicating this run to Venu Sir who has recently passed away. Elango is certainly missing his company and also believes Venu Sir has been watching, guiding and showering with his blessings which had helped him and his fellow runners complete a tough task like this.

Read more about Venu Sir here...
Learn more about how you can run at the OOTYULTRA, a tough 60k Ultramarathon with 2000 m elevation gain, perfectly providing you with a tough mountain road run experience. The Comrades marathon finishers have time and again said OOTYULTRA provided them with the required confidence to run the Comrades Marathon

Also read about Elango & Neha, an inspiring father & daughter story


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