Dear Comrades Marathon Runner,
We are living through unprecedented, unpredictable and unimaginably challenging times.
On behalf of the Comrades Marathon Association, I thank you for your patience and apologise for the extent to which uncertainty as to the status of the 2020 Comrades Marathon may have added to your burden of anxiety, over matters far graver than any road race, over the past month. A reminder that we have promised to put an end to the uncertainty by 17 April.
For the past 32 days, CMA has been inundated with messages, phone calls, intense media speculation, personal representations and social media posts, which have fallen roughly into four categories – support, criticism, anxiety and expressions of concern regarding specific aspects pertaining to the race.
While we have appreciated and been bolstered by the messages of support we have received from runners, we have been equally touched and taken cognizance of the criticisms, expressions of anxiety and concerns pertaining to specific aspects, such as the cancellation of qualifying events, the substitution period, restrictions on training and entry fees. We understand the frustration, uncertainty, fears and concerns our runners are experiencing.
In this message, I would like to assure our runners that CMA’s number one priority is to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of our runners, staff, volunteers, sponsors, stakeholders, fellow South Africans, and to the best possible extent, the world. To that end we are engaging closely with our national federation, Athletics South Africa and through ASA will take guidance and direction from our Government as to the fate of #Comrades2020.
Considering the ramifications of the 21-day National Lockdown, and as Covid-19 numbers in South Africa and around the world continue to escalate, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that the 2020 Comrades Marathon will be staged on 14 June.
CMA’s main considerations at this stage are to encourage runners to abide by and respect all aspects and directives of Government in relation to the National Lockdown, in particular to STAY AT HOME and DO NOT RUN outside of one’s own property, as well as regard for the eventual safety, welfare and potential un-preparedness of runners after having experienced a three-week interruption in training, during the critical build-up to such a grueling endurance race.
With regard to possible postponement, which would require ASA sanction, the CMA Board is of the view that the race cannot be staged later than 4 October 2020 owing to climatic conditions, failing which the 2020 Comrades Marathon will have to be cancelled for the first and only time since World War 2 in the 99 year history of the race.
We trust that runners will appreciate that within an extremely congested athletics calendar that is largely constructed around the Comrades Marathon, it is no easy task to identify an alternative date, given the impact it will have on other road running fixtures, the availability of venues and other resources, climatic conditions, and other competitive sporting and entertainment events which are also looking for alternative dates and venues in the latter half of the year. As repeatedly stated, the decision will be announced by ASA in mid-April.
In the meantime, a reminder that the origins of the Comrades Marathon go back to 1918, when a humble war veteran and railways engine driver had the dream of staging a living memorial to the pain, hardship, injuries and deaths of soldiers who suffered so greatly in the First World War, as well as the spirit, camaraderie and fortitude with which they suffered.
As South Africa and the world is currently engaged in an global war against an invisible enemy, it is perhaps fitting to reflect that the values of grit, determination, courage, hope, humanity and selflessness upon with the Comrades Marathon was founded have never been forgotten, as an entire nation celebrates the triumph over adversity each year, and for each and every one of us to re-double our own efforts to uphold them.
On a lighter note, a huge cheer to those runners who are continuing to train, somehow putting in mind-boggling distances within the confines of their own backyards. But please spare a thought for the majority of our runners that do not have the option of such luxury. To all Comrades runners, be PROUD of the training you’ve already put in prior to the lockdown. It will never go to waste and you will be stronger for it! In the event of postponement, our Official Comrades Coach will provide advice as to how training schedules should be adjusted to prepare for a race later in the year.
In closing, the issues of qualifying and substitutions will be dealt with elsewhere in this newsletter. With regard to the issue of entry fees, we wish to assure Comrades runners that in the event of postponement or unlikely cancellation, an announcement will be made of a policy that is in line with CMA’s commitment to always putting our Runners First.
In the meantime, stay safe, stay home, stay well and God bless.