The 95th edition of the Comrades Marathon, scheduled for June 14 has officially been cancelled amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This will be the first time since the Second World that Comrades marathon has not been staged.
This was announced today by Athletics South Africa (ASA) following discussions between the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) Board and KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA).
Dolphin Striders running club chairperson Paul Swainson said a record field of 117 Dolphin Striders runners entered this year’s Pietermaritzburg-Durban race, including legendary runner, Barry Holland, who would have been attempting his 48th consecutive run.
Holland, who ran his first Comrades marathon in 1973, holds the record for the most consecutive finishes as well as jointly holding the record for the most completed with two other athletes.
Swainson said the news was disappointing but not surprising given the global health crisis.
The five-week strict lockdown which started on March 27 and prohibited any running outside of your home, would have made training almost impossible for many runners, who have to log the highest running mileage over this period.
This left many runners with only the option of running around their yard to keep fit.
“Most comrades runners are very fit at this stage of their training, averaging approximately 250km mileage per month. Running around your home is not the same as running on the road and it would not have been enough as you near the crucial build-up stage of your training programme ” said Swainson.
In a statement released today, ASA president Alec Skhosana said: “Cancelling what would have been the 95th edition of the Comrades Marathon was a long and arduous decision to make. With the race’s rich history, its powerful nation-building attributes and contribution towards social cohesion, as well as its immense economic impact, it would have been premature to rush into an outright cancellation sooner. However, we believe we have jointly arrived at the correct decision to protect the health and safety of all concerned as well as the lives of our fellow South Africans.”
With regard to the 25 000 South African entrants, based on the assumption that all entrants would have eventually qualified to participate in the race, every South African entrant, including the 485 who entered during the recent substitution period, will not be refunded their entry fee but will instead receive their #Comrades2020 runners T-shirt and goodie bag, as well as a Comrades badge and flash.
The details of the distribution process will be made available in due course in terms of the national lockdown restrictions.
For logistical reasons this will apply to South African entries only.
The 2 500 foreign entries will be carried over to either the 2021 or 2022 events, at their choice.
This means that #Comrades2021 will now be the 95th edition of The Ultimate Human Race, starting from the Pietermaritzburg City Hall at 05:30 and finishing 12 hours later at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
It will be the 47th down run which will also celebrate the Centenary of the Comrades Marathon Association which was founded on 24 May, 1921.
Exactly 80 years ago, Comrades Marathon organisers faced a similar dilemma in deciding whether to stage the 20th Comrades Marathon some eight months into World War II.
At the last moment it was decided to go ahead with just 23 starters, following the withdrawal of many runners who had been mobilised for the war effort.
Only 10 runners completed the 1940 event.
The following year the race was cancelled and remained so for the duration of the war (1941-1945), as the organisers, runners and supporters stood in solidarity with all those who suffered the horrors and atrocities of war, similar to that of the World War I which had inspired the marathon’s humble beginnings.
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