Athletes have expressed their excitement that they will be able to physically run the Comrades Marathon next year. This, after the KwaZulu-Natal Athletics Association, approved for the race to be held on 28th August 2022.

This is two months later, in which the ultra-marathon is normally held annually.

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) says they pushed the date from June to August because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 14 000 athletes from around the world entered the virtual Comrades Hope challenge in June this year. This was the second virtual race after last year’s Comrades Legend race. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people run remotely and share their experiences online.

Marthie Savides says they were just excited to run even if it was a virtual race despite not training enough for the full 90 kilometers.

“There was huge disappointment last year when Comrades was cancelled, and when we heard there will be a virtual (one), we were very excited. It gave us something to work towards. What we did notice is that some of us weren’t ready. We weren’t fit enough or trained enough to do the full. So, a lot of us did the 45, which would be half. So, at the moment, we’ve taken on to a bit of trail running. I think it’s just that you get a bit bored of road running. If there’s no races and in trail. We do have some races now. So, we’ve taken on some trail which makes you nice and strong on the road.”

Marathon runner, Dean Wight says moving the date to August will give them enough time to train for the ultimate human race.

“The most exciting thing about it is that Comrades is back. Whether it’s back June, July, April, May, whatever the case is. It’s back in August. We’ve finally got our race back after two years of COVID and virtual races. We’ve finally got what we wanted. All we wanted was Comrades. Now, obviously, we’ve got to work on the date and the date is not the issue. The fact that we have the race, that’s what is important.”

Three-times Comrades Marathon winner, Bongumusa Mthembu says not running the race physically for the past two years has been difficult.

Mthembu, who hails from Bulwer in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, became the first South African to win the race more than once since Bruce Fordyce. He says he has been training hard, preparing both physically and mentally for the marathon.

“It’s been difficult for us who are doing this fulltime. You know, to run comrades after 10 years consecutively and after that, you find that you can’t run. For me the virtual didn’t work. So, I didn’t do the virtual, but last year, I did it with Mr Price, but other than that, it’s been frustrating. We try by all means to stay strong, especially for me because this is what I do for a living and I had to keep myself in a fit position. It’s such a difficult time when you train but don’t know when you’re going to run.”

CMA General Manager, Keletso Totlhanyo says they are working on COVID-19 regulations so they will be able to hold the actual Comrades from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.