The dreaded news we’ve all been waiting for, the Comrades Marathon Association have decided to cancel Comrades Marathon 2020. We are, of course, absolutely gutted to not be heading out to Durban together this year as Team Africa Marathons. We had an absolutely fantastic group of 35 people travelling from the UK, USA, Chile and India and we were all so looking forward to sharing this experience together.
Rob Morley, Africa Marathons Director said, “I have spoken to everyone in the team many times over the last few months and know how excited everyone was for this adventure. The decision is of course totally understandable and whilst we are very disappointed for you all and for the whole Africa Marathons team we remain hopeful that when we do get to travel to Comrades together it will truly be a once in a lifetime experience!”
Rob also added, “I will be in contact with each Africa Marathons team member over the course of the next week or so.”
Below is the official statement from the Comrades Marathon Association and Athletics South Africa.
Following long discussion with the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) Board and KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA, Athletics South Africa (ASA) has announced the cancellation of the 2020 Comrades Marathon.
Making the announcement, ASA President Aleck 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.”
CMA Chairperson Cheryl Winn also explained that: “It is with profound sadness and regret that the CMA Board, in conjunction with ASA and KZNA, had to make this decision. We do so with the knowledge that it will come as a great disappointment to thousands of Comrades runners, who together with us at CMA, have been holding out hope that the race would somehow proceed.
“We had hoped to postpone The Ultimate Human Race to a date not later than end of September (owing to climatic conditions), but alas with the Covid-19 pandemic showing no signs of abating and anticipated to peak in the coming months, there is no telling what is yet to come. As CMA, it is incumbent upon us to prioritise the health, safety and well-being of our athletes, volunteers and stakeholders and therefore lamentably we will not be staging this year’s edition of the country’s leading road running event.”
Jay Reddy, KZN Athletics Administrator, added: “In this difficult time which has seen the historic cancellation of one of KZNA’s flagship events, let us not succumb to despair, disappointment and acceptance that we are victims of this pandemic. Let us rather celebrate that as athletes and other role players, we are sacrificing one of our major races in the knowledge that we are serving the interests of humanity. As KZNA we stand united in our endeavour to overcome the devastating consequences of this disease. We call upon all our members and associates to engage in strategies to address the broader issues of the environment and the pressing needs of our people in the true spirit of the Comrades. We urge our athletes to continue to observe the Covid-19 regulations, engage in activity responsibly and take every precaution to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Winn reassured runners on a number of practical issues, advising that CMA will deal with the roughly 2500 Foreign and 25,000 South African entries received for the 2020 Comrades Marathon as follows:
This means that the #Comrades2021 will now be the 95th edition of The Ultimate Human Race, starting from the Pietermaritzburg City Hall at 5h30 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 24th 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 the conflagration of 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 Comrades Marathon. 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 1 which had inspired the Comrades Marathon’s humble beginnings.
“We thank each of our runners, supporters, volunteers and our incredible sponsors for their patience, fortitude and steadfast support over the past two months during which we have wrangled with this difficult decision. Sad as it is, as CMA we can now turn our focus towards the staging of our Centenary Celebrations next year in the comfort of knowing we can rely on the passionate loyalty and participation of so many. With reference to the inspirational theme of the cancelled edition Iphupho Lami / Dare to Dream, hope is a dream deferred,” concluded Winn.”
Stay well everyone and we cannot wait for the time we do all get to run together again. Here’s to Comrades Marathon 2021.