The Comrades Marathon has turned a hundred years old. In celebration, the association held a special run to commemorate the first marathon in 1921.
34 former winners took part in the 2.2km race from the Pietermaritzburg City Hall to Comrades Marathon House.
Comrades Marathon Association celebrates 100 years of The Ultimate Human Race:
For some who have now hung up their running shoes, their pace is indicative of their golden years. Slower and steadier, but still with as much joy and excitement as when they first crossed the finish line.
They received a heroes’ welcome at the finish.
Among them were Nick Bester, 1991 winner in the men’s race, and Tilda Tearle who won the women’s race in 1993. They were all smiles as they reminisced about their victories.
“This was great fun but also brought back a lot of memories and when chariots of fire were playing at the City Hall, I was getting goose pimples. That was also the direction I ran when I won in 1991. It was a down run and that brings back a lot of memories,” says Bester.
“Being here today and seeing everybody again and being able to run with them and just have fun was great. When I won in 93, it was also a down run so I can remember standing at the City Hall. When I won, I obviously had a seeding so I was right at the front with all the people crushing from behind. So, today it was much more fun,” says Tearle.
The Ultimate Human Race
Some runners who had completed more than 30 editions of The Ultimate Human Race, were also present.
For the more recent Comrades champions like Charne Bosman and Edward Mothibi, they say it was a dream come true to be amongst their heroes.
“It’s a privilege for me to be part of this. I was looking so much forward in the last week. I couldn’t wait. After yesterday, I ran a 50km race in PE and after last night, I was up at 5AM. I couldn’t wait to put these clothes on,” says Mothibi.
“You don’t get something like this in your lifetime and I was so happy to see all these big names. So, today to be with them here, it is a privilege. It was like a walk in the park for me, but it was fun,” Bosman says.
Chairperson of the Comrades Marathon Association Cheryl Winn says despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the significant 100-year milestone could not go unnoticed.
“In this year, given all that we have gone through the past two years, I think maybe people need to go out and hold on right now, it is the spirit of hope and we decided to, once we realised we were not going to be able to stage our Comrades Marathon … we wanted people to find some way to be able to be part of our centenary celebrations. We decided on our centenary hope challenge. We are asking all Comrades runners and not only runners themselves, but their family members, anybody who has been touched by the Comrades Marathon or been inspired to take part, to join the race that is going to take place on the 13th of June, which is the day which the Comrades marathon was scheduled to be staged. It is going to be a wonderful spirit. People can choose their distance, their own route, their own starting times but obviously, they will be celebrating the hundred years of Comrades Marathon with thousand runners in every town, village and city.”
For a second consecutive year, the Comrades Marathon will be run virtually on 13 June. So far, over 3 500 entrants from 32 countries have signed up to take part.