STUDEBAKER THE LEAD VEHICLE IN 1921 COMRADES TRIBUTE RUN

The lead vehicle for the 1921 Comrades Marathon Tribute Run on Monday, 24 May 2021 was a classic automobile, the Studebaker Tourer.

Having been built in 1918, the production of this particular car, the Studebaker Light Six, began in 1916, introducing the greatest expansion of the new production plant in Detroit, Michigan, USA which was built in 1906. Studebaker manufactured cars in the Detroit plant between the years 1911 and 1933, becoming one of the largest automakers in the world.

This model embodied a combination of the traditionally solid Studebaker design with enough new and daring features to make it interesting; with the ‘Light Six’ turning out to be a name that suited the new product ideally.

Currently owned by Brett Venton from the Veteran Car Club of South Africa, based in Kloof, the vehicle has been owned by three other enthusiasts over its lifetime. Venton made the vintage automobile available to the Comrades Marathon Association on the day and also served as the driver.

The 1921 Comrades Tribute Run was a symbolic re-enactment of the 1921 Comrades Marathon which saw 34 starters take off from the Pietermaritzburg City Hall 100 years ago on 24 May 1921.

The 1921 Comrades Tribute Run took place on Monday, 24 May 2021, exactly 100 years to the day, as part of the Comrades Centenary Celebrations, which preceded an exciting line up of Centenary festivities on the day.

The 1921 Comrades Tribute Run finished at Comrades House, covering a distance of 2.2km and one which included the participation of 21 former Comrades Marathon Winners, Quadruple Green Number male runners and Triple Green Number female athletes, which included the likes of Bruce Fordyce, David Gatebe, Edward Mothibi, the Kelehe Brothers – Gift and Andrew, Alan Robb, Shaun Meiklejohn, Helen Lucre, Caroline Cherry and Charne Bosman.

Barry Holland and Louis Massyn who hold the highest number of Comrades finishes, a combined total of 94 between them, were also part of the line-up.

These 34 participants were set off by Msunduzi Mayor, Cllr Mzimkhulu Thebolla at 09h00 outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall, proceeded down Chief Albert Luthuli Street which becomes Alan Paton Road and then turned left into Connaught Road, covering the 2.2km long route.

CMA Race Director, Rowyn James said, “Leading the Tribute Run was a 1918 Studebaker and then our 34 athletes who represented the pinnacle in ultra-road running over the past four decades. Our Comrades Centenary Celebrations was one of the most memorable days on the South African running calendar, encapsulating the rich heritage of the Comrades Marathon as well as South Africa’s outstanding running talent.”

The 1921 Comrades Marathon Tribute Run was overseen by Msunduzi Traffic Management Services and the Department of Transport (RTI).

The arrival of the 34 runners at Comrades House heralded the start of the formal Comrades Centenary Celebrations which included the unveiling of a Centenary Monument, entertainment, formal addresses from dignitaries, less-formal speeches by special guests, more entertainment, and the cutting of a giant birthday cake.