India @ Comrades Marathon 2023: A Data Round up

Insights from the Comrades Marathon finisher timing data of Indian runners.
India @ Comrades Marathon 2023: A Data Round up

The Comrades Marathon, known as the “Ultimate Human Race,” is a legendary ultra-marathon that tests the endurance, grit, and determination of runners from around the world. Held annually in South Africa, this iconic event attracts participants who push their limits to conquer the gruelling 90-kilometer course.

This year, the Comrades Marathon has seen a remarkable surge in participation from Indian runners with about 386 runners participating from India, making it the second largest after the host country South Africa. As we delve into the timing data from the Comrades Marathon 2023, we have put together the trends, and achievements of the Indian contingent.

India Tops the Finishers List

India is the top nation in terms of finishers, excluding the host country, at the Comrades Marathon 2023. With a remarkable count of 279 finishers, India demonstrated its rising prominence in the ultra-marathon community. Here is a Tree map analysis of finishers by country.

Top 10 Countries by Finishers

At 279 finishers India tops, with of the 386 entered participants 82 of them did not start the race. Interestingly only 25 of the runners did not finish. That is remarkable given the distance, and challenging terrain. Here is how India compares to Overall finish participant numbers. The finish percentage of 72% and DNF of 7% is almost inline with the overall trend.

Finshers vs DNF vs DNS

Impressive Gender-wise Finisher Ratio

Among Indian participants, the gender distribution revealed a ratio of 10-90, with women comprising only 10% of the total participants. While this seems very skewed, this ratio is very impressive when compared to many major marathons that happen in India. It is remarkable especially if you consider the distance and the travel required for the race. The best ratio in India is for the Tata Mumbai Marathon which is about 8%-9% range over the years. The question to ponder now is, are the marathon events in India not women friendly?

Gender wise Finishers - India vs. World

In contrast, on a global scale, the distribution stood at 20-80, with women representing 20% of the participants. This is way lower compared to World Marathon Majors such as London which boasts upwards of 40% for women.

Finisher Distribution

In our analysis of Indian runners' finish times at the Comrades Marathon, we plotted the data in 30-minute intervals starting from the 7-hour mark. An intriguing observation here is that the absence of a typical bell curve shape. Instead, we noticed a notable concentration of finish times between 10:30 and 11:00 hours, followed closely by the interval of 11:30 to 12:00 hours. Finish time distribution when considering the total finishers from across the countries is not very different either.

Finish Time Distribution - India
Finish Time Distribution - World

One possible explanation for this atypical distribution lies in the stringent finish cut-off time of 12 hours. This could contribute to the skewed shape of the distribution, with a notable clustering around the cut-off time. Can you think of other reasons?

Top Finishers

Here are the top finishers from India across various categories. Congratulations to all the top finishers.

Top Finishers across Categories

Top Finishers across Categories

Top Finishers by Age Categories

Top 3 Finishers across Age Categories

Need more?

If you would like to play with the data, complete timing data in CSV format can be downloaded from here.

Also check out this excellent Twitter thread by Mark Dowdeswell that goes into depths of the data.


Aravind is a techie, running geek, and a marathoner. He is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. He loves all things technology and technology in running, with special interest in running form analysis.


Rameshbabu is member of Mangalore Runners Club, and is coached by Runners360. He has been running for 10 years, and has run half marathons across the world. He aspires to run a marathon soon.

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