Durban - At least 13 000 runners will put their stamina to the test on Sunday when they take to the grueling stretch of road between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.
According to the Comrades Marathon Association, there are 12 890 entries this year, including 2 404 first-time or novice runners.
Of this number, 460 are international male runners, 130 are international women runners, 2 120 are South African women runners, while 10 180 are South African men.
General Manager, Gary Boshoff said they were happy with the number of entries received this year, which was an increase of 17 percent when compared to the previous four years.
Mr Boshoff said this was evidence that road-running, marathon running and in particular the comrades marathon was in a healthy position in South Africa.
Runners will do the down run this year, making their way from the capital city of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, to the coastal city of Durban on Sunday 24 May.
While there is no specific theme for the event, Mr Boshoff said they had launched an initiative called "My Story".
"The My Story campaign is aimed at telling all the different stories of the runners, especially those from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, professionals, novices and celebrity runners. All these people have a unique story to tell about their experience, preparations for the comrades and their feelings after the race."
The Comrades Marathon Association's Underprivileged Runner Programme has also received massive support this year.
In partnership with Nedbank and Bonitas Medical Fund, Gold Field, Flora as well as product donations from Unilever South Africa, the Comrades Association has been able to offer runners a bed and meal at the Pietermaritzburg's YMCA the night before and the night after the race.
Runners will also be transported to and from registration and to the start and from the finish of the race.
Mr Boshoff told BuaNews up to 800 underprivileged runners would benefit from the programme and with the help of Flora they would be able to provide a cup a soup for the runners during the night to make them warm and Unilever will provide Vaseline for all the runners.
During the race, athletes are encouraged to drink sufficient fluid and monitor their rates of sweat to ensure not too much fluid is lost which could lead to dehydration.
Besides the great achievement of completing the race within the 12 hour cut-off time, participants will be awarded with various medals and badges.
"The first man and woman will be awarded with prize money of R220 000. The second place man and woman will receive R110 000, while the third man and woman will walk away with R82 500," said Mr Boshoff.
Runners from fourth to tenth position will get R11 000.