The Comrades Marathon is an exceptional challenge just to complete, never mind winning the race. However, for many runners the greatest challenge is just to get to the starting line. Annually hundreds of runners are denied the opportunity to run this epic race because they simply can’t afford to. The cost of travelling to Durban or Pietermaritzburg and the additional funds required for accommodation and food is beyond the reach of many an aspiring Comrades runner.
Through this project the CMA provides accommodation and food to between six and eight hundred athletes in Pietermaritzburg. These athletes are provided with two nights’ accommodation where each is provided with a blanket as well as a foam mattress for a comfortable night’s rest. Additionally these athletes are provided with carbo-meals, fruits and soup. Entertainment facilities, including music and a big screen that features video screenings of previous Comrades Marathons are also provided for the runners to get them motivated for the "Ultimate Human Race".
The CMA receives financial contributions from some of its sponsors to sustain the project, while some sponsors donate products for the underprivileged runners. The CMA has forged closer working relations with the various provincial sports departments in order to increase support for underprivileged runners throughout South Africa. These provincial sports departments each provide a sixty seater bus to transport their underprivileged Comrades athletes to Pietermaritzburg and Durban. The CMA has every intention to intensify this campaign over the next few years in order to get all the provincial governments to support their runners with transport expenses.
The Comrades Marathon prides itself in being a truly South African sports event, fostering diversity and promoting gender equality. Through its comprehensive charity drive and social responsibility programmes the organisation is acutely aware of the critical challenges facing South African society at this juncture in our history.