It is with great sadness that the CMA received news of the passing of Zeb Luhabe. Luhabe was not only a Comrades personality, but a role model to so many throughout his community. He was 92 years old.
Luhabe was the oldest finisher in the 2003 Comrades Marathon and also the last runner to cross the finish line. A retired policeman from East London, he took up running at the age of 56 and ran for the Real Gijimas Running Club.
His age never deterred him from pursuing his new hobby passionately. By the age of 62, Luhabe was ready to attempt his first Comrades Marathon. While he did not finish in the allotted 11 hours at the time, he was determined to come back and try again. On his 11th attempt, at the age of 76, he managed to successfully complete The Ultimate Human Race.
Luhabe committed himself wholeheartedly to encouraging the youth to take up healthy lifestyle choices and, into his 90’s was still running and inspiring his community.
His tenacity, resilience and commitment to the Comrades Marathon saw him being awarded a 24 carat gold medallion as a Spirit of Comrades Awardee in 2004. An inspiring feature on him can be found in the 2004 Comrades Marathon Souvenir Magazine.
Luhabe inspired many people with his love for long distance running and his determination to earn the coveted Comrades Finishers Medal.
CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn said, “Coming in as the oldest man to finish in 2003, Mr Luhabe was also astonishingly the last man home, crossing the finish line just before the gun was fired. He was a wonderful man who was an inspiration and a source of motivation to so many.”
Winn adds, “Zeb personified courage and determination to achieve what he had initially set out to do in 1989 and created a very exciting end to the Comrades Marathon of 2003. Zeb was one of the true characters of the sport and regarded as a legend in East London and South African road running. He will always be remembered as a ray of light in the running fraternity. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and the running community at large. He will missed.”
CMA Board Member, Isaac Ngwenya said, “Zeb Luhabe was an amazing man, who epitomized the true spirit of the Comrades Marathon, and was a living example of dedication, discipline and commitment. He loved running and dedicated himself to conquering The Ultimate Human Race. The impact that he had on the youth and athletes all over the country was inspiring. We wish the family strength during this trying time. ”
CMA Prize Giving Convenor, Morgan Pillay said, “It is with a great sense of sadness that I heard of the passing away of Mr Luhabe. He was a regular VIP guest on Comrades Race Day over the years. He was a charming man who will be long remembered for his love for Comrades and his positive attitude.”
Comrades International Brand Ambassador for Japan, Sandy Kondo said, “It is very sad to hear that Mr Luhabe has passed away. He was a very strong minded runner and an admirable challenger. I remember seeing his photo in the paper the day after Comrades, when he was the last runner to cross the finish line. I was just so impressed! R.I.P.”