Spirit of Comrades 2008

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The Comrades Marathon Association has awarded the 2008 Spirit of Comrades Awards to Kenny Craig, Riel Hugo and Mark Bloomfield.

Craig and Hugo have been honoured, not only because their conduct and attitude to Comrades have embodied the spirit of the race for more than four decades, but because they are the only two men to have completed the race 40 times in succession.

Kenny Craig started his Comrades career back in 1959, and soon became a pivotal figure in the race. His lively spirit, engaging personality and boundless enthusiasm for Comrades drew many other runners to the event. He ran all through the sixties, seventies and eighties, finishing under sub-7:30 on ten occasions, with a personal best of 6:55 in 1975. Kenny’s love of Comrades continued unabated, and he ran the race every year until 1998, when he finally took his bow, having completed 40 consecutive races.

66-year-old Riel Hugo completed his 40th consecutive Comrades Marathon in 2008, becoming only the second runner after Kenny Craig to achieve the feat.

Hugo ran for Germiston Callies in his first Comrades back in 1969. He subsequently moved to the Western Cape and has run for the local Durbanville club for the past seven years. A prodigious racer, with ultramarathon running as a way of life, Hugo has also completed 36 Two Oceans Marathons and numerous standard marathons.

Apart from his 40-year streak, Hugo has done brilliantly time-wise. He has 21 silvers (including a best time of 6:20 set in 1982), and a further 12 runs under 9 hours. Only 7 of his races have been over the current Bill Rowan Medal time of 9 hours.

Mark Bloomfield is the second international recipient of the prestigious Spirit of Comrades award, which is given in recognition of his unstinting support for the race amongst the American road running community.

Mark ran three Comrades Marathons himself – in 2003, 2004 and 2005 – until a heart condition prevented him from further participation in the race. Since then, he has made it his personal mission to promote the race, its spirit, ethos and history, beyond the shores of South Africa.

In 2005 he was appointed the Comrades Marathon’s first International Ambassador in recognition not only of his passion for the event, but also his boundless enthusiasm for spreading the Comrades Marathon message, promoting Comrades awareness abroad and for his efforts to increase international participation in the race.

Mark still travels to South Africa each June, entirely at his own expense, to work as a volunteer to assist, support and encourage international runners participating in the event. Back home, Mark, during the course of his work as a Washington lobbyist, always seeks out opportunities to spread the Comrades message, encouraging Americans to take up the challenge. He has written numerous articles for American running magazines about Comrades, mans the Comrades stand at the New York Marathon Expo and acts as a one-on-one advisor to aspirant Comrades Marathon participants.

Mark does all of this at his own expense, is a true Comrades Ambassador and a worthy recipient of the Spirit of Comrades Award.

As always, given the amazing array of committed and loyal people that are involved in the race, it has been difficult to select the most deserving recipients of these Spirit of Comrades Awards. However, the CMA felt that the achievements of Kenny, Riel and Mark deserve special mention this year. We are delighted to honour them in this fashion”, said Bobby Maharajh, Chairman of Comrades Marathon board of Trustees.