The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) Board has regrettably announced its decision to cancel the Comrades Marathon scheduled for 13 June 2021.
After having late last year, undertaken to make announcements in mid-February regarding requirements for qualification and the staging of the 2021 Comrades Marathon, the decision to cancel will come as an enormous disappointment to tens of thousands of runners; and has also been a tough call for CMA organisers to make, in what is the world-renowned Race’s Centenary year.
This decision comes in the wake of engagements with KwaZulu-Natal Athletics, Athletics South Africa, the National Coronavirus Command Council, members of the medical fraternity and governmental departments; and was both a moral and practical imperative given the ongoing uncertainty and unprecedented circumstances of the Coronavirus pandemic, the onset of a second wave and a significantly more infectious variant of Covid-19, as well as the ongoing National State of Disaster and its associated restrictions.
The CMA Board is determined that the health, safety and welfare of Comrades runners, officials, volunteers and the general public remains paramount even after having held out hope that the nation’s most unifying road running event would have been able to be hosted in June. The impending third wave of Covid-19 which is widely anticipated around April to June this year, has ended any such hopes and makes the hosting of any mass event in the near future highly unlikely.
However, the good news is that the Comrades Centenary Celebrations are imminent. With the very first Comrades Marathon having been held on Tuesday, 24 May 1921, the CMA will launch its Centenary Celebrations on Monday, 24 May 2021.
Other great news is that the CMA has confirmed that its 2nd Comrades Marathon virtual event will take place on Sunday, 13 June 2021 in which runners will be able to run in any location, outside in their garden, or neighbourhood, all at their own pace, in a similar fashion to last year’s successful inaugural Race the Comrades Legends which saw 43,788 participants from more than 100 nations uniting in a single virtual event.
Details of the virtual event, the Comrades Centenary Celebrations and other innovative festivities which are in the pipeline will be shared in due course.
CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn has urged runners to accept and respect the CMA’s decision which has been made in conjunction with KZNA, ASA and government restrictions, and most importantly, with the utmost regard for the health and welfare of our athletes, volunteers and all other stakeholders. A secondary consideration was the risk of committing precious resources towards the staging of an event which might later be cancelled at short notice and the CMA Board’s obligation for the preservation of the 100-year-old event’s assets into the future.
Winn says, “Amidst intense and ongoing uncertainty with the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on mass gatherings and events, our runners’ interests remain uppermost in our minds and endeavours. We urge Comrades runners to take care and continue to maintain their fitness levels to enable a smooth transition once the normal staging of distance running resumes, while we at the CMA pledge to enable runners to stay connected, engaged, safe, informed and abreast of developments in this regard.”
Winn adds, “What we can confirm is that the festivities of the Comrades Marathon Centenary Celebrations will commence on 24 May and we invite all South Africans and our global running community to join in the revelry and remembrance of South Africa’s and the world’s oldest and greatest ultra-road running event.”