A POWYS athlete is celebrating after ending fifth in the oldest and largest ultramarathon in the world.

Andrew Davies from Newtown was among 20,000 runners who set off in darkness of Durban, South Africa to the sound of “Chariots of Fire” at the weekend Comrades Marathon which saw him take on nearly 86 kilometers of road running throughout the hills of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province.

It was the 97th running of the event, which has only missed four editions since World War I veteran Vic Clapham started it in 1921 to commemorate the lives of South African soldiers.


The Comrades Marathon famously alternates the direction each year, and this year’s race, which was run in relatively ideal conditions with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to low-70s Fahrenheit, was the 49th Up race, meaning runners began in the lower-altitude Durban and ended in the higher-altitude Pietermaritzburg.

The race featured around 1,000 meters of elevation gain, with most of it during the first half of the race, when the course runs through three of its “Big Five” hills. The Up run, therefore, demands a smart, measured racing strategy.

Two of the runners — Gerda Steyn, of South Africa on the women’s side and Piet Wiersma of The Netherlands on the men’s claimed the $217,000 prize money.

Andrew Davies jumped from 12th to fifth over the course of the second half of the race to cross the line in 5:30:46.