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The Comrades Marathon is an ultra-marathon and is one of the world's leading long-distance races. Run mid-June every year, the race takes place between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. Hillcrest is a great location to take in some of the live action as it is nicely situated around the half-way point.
Each year, the race is run in either the up or down version. In the down version, the race starts in Pietermaritzburg and ends in Durban; the up course is simply the reverse. The race features the Big Five - but in this case, its five hills : Polly Shortts, Inchanga, Botha's, Fields and Cowie's Hills - the real challenges of the race.
The race starts in the small hours of the morning (05:30) and runners have 12 hours to complete the course. The race is covered on South African television, so you can get up and watch the start whilst enjoying breakfast and then head out to take your place for the front-runners passing through Hillcrest before heading back to your comfortable armchair where you can watch the elite runners finish. Then its time for a braai (BBQ) before the final stages where you anguish at those missing out on completing within the given timeframe by hundredths of a second. The timer stands with his back to the runners who do their best to muster that last bit of energy to beat the gun and miss out on that elusive Comrades medal.
Each year sees hundreds falter at the wayside, but also there are the greats of Comrades like Vic Clapham, Bill Rowan, Bruce Fordyce, Sam Tshabalala and many others.
There are 6 medal classes and, should you be fortunate enough to break a previous best time record, 100 ounce gold statuettes.
ENTRY FEE for runners in Comrades Marathon 2007 :
South African Entry is R160.00.
Rest of AFrica Entry is R160.00.
International Entry is US$150.00.
Entry Fee is waived for holders of 25 or more Comrades medals - they really deserve to run for free by then!!
Of course, its free to watch from the roadside in Hillcrest (and much more comfortable that way)!
Updated Feb 12, 2007
Address: Hill crest High Street
On our way back to Durban from the Valley of a Thousand Hills, we stopped off in Hillcrest at Heritage Shopping Centre to pick up some local gifts and found a little gem of a Greek restaurant hidden upstairs.
The very Greek owners seemed to ensure the food was authentically Greek, with traditional small meze dishes and some more substantial meals and grills, just like when were on holiday in the Greek isles. The value was exceptionally good. We just enjoyed the meze dishes, which were priced between 15 and 25 Rand each (about 1 - 2 pounds each!). All the dishes were great, but the grilled lamb souvlakis in pita and the grilled calamari were delicious. 4-5 of these dishes make a substantial meal for 2 people.
The decor was a rustic, with large heavy ironwood furniture. No plate breaking or dancing, but there was a lively atmosphere, helped by the free ouzo generously given to us by the owner.
A place not to miss if you are in the area.
Favorite Dish: The grilled calamari was outstanding, definitely the best I have ever had. The Lamb Souvlaki was also superb and reminded me of the ones we had eaten on the street in Athens!
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: Heritage Shopping Centre, Hillcrest