This year’s Comrades Marathon has taken an unusual turn by adding alcohol-free beer for the runners along the 89 kilometre race route this Sunday.
Over 14 000 runners have qualified for this year’s Comrades, which will be the 47th down-run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
Comrades Marathon’s Delaine Cools says the zero-point-zero percent alcohol beer will be placed in twenty refreshment stations after the halfway point. She explains what food and drinks will be available to sustain the runners.
“All Coca Cola products including Coke, Fanta, Crème Soda. We will have cooked potatoes, oranges, bananas. Were talking about food and beverages by the tons. I think there’s even something like 450 000 Coca Cola paper cups. We will have Bavaria zero-point-zero percent beer. So runners won’t be drunk on the route but they certainly will have a good time and be well-hydrated.”
Russian athletes will not be allowed
Comrades Marathon Association chairperson Mqondisi Ngcobo says no Russian athletes will be allowed to compete in this year’s race. This comes after World Athletics issued a ban on athletes from Russia and Belarus at international events following the invasion of Ukraine in February.
Russian athletes started to dominate the Comrades in the early 2000s after sanctions against South African sports were lifted in the 1990s. This year the Comrades Marathon Association received entries from 32 Russian athletes. Ngcobo says following a directive by Athletics South Africa, these athletes may run socially but they will not receive any prize money or medals.
“In terms of Russians contingents, we have received a directive from World Athletics, as you know that we affiliate to KwaZulu-Natal Athletics as the event organisers. Obviously KZN being a member of Athletics South Africa affiliate direct to World Athletics. They gave us a directive not to consider any Russian or Belarusian athletes who is eligible for prize monies to included in our race on Sunday.”
Meanwhile, Comrades race director Rowyn James says competitors from 72 countries will be taking part in the ultra-marathon this year. Altogether 14 582 runners have entered to take part in the iconic sporting event. James says preparations are at an advanced stage.
“Race preparations are at an advanced stage. We have 14 582 runners that are eligible to start on race day. In terms of the preparations on the route, have gone very well as there are a quite a number of road works. We have been working well with the local authorities, ensure that the road works will not impact on the route. 72 direct countries will be represented run the race this year.”