The rich and unrivalled history of the world’s biggest, oldest and most famous ultramarathon was recognised by the Msunduzi Municipality as it announced the renaming of Connaught Road to Comrades Road at Comrades House in Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg last week (Thursday, 9 May 2024).

The Municipality had announced the plan to rename streets in Pietermaritzburg townships and suburbs through a Public Places and Street Naming policy passed by the Municipal Council in 2020 and called on community members for their input. The purpose of this project was to afford people the opportunity to live in places that they better relate to and take pride in.

The Chief Whip of Council and Chairperson of Public Places and Street Naming Committee, Cllr Sandile Dlamini said the project would allow the community members to dig into and engage their history to honour individuals who had contributed to the development of the city.

Together with the renaming of Connaught Road to Comrades Road, over 300 roads, three community halls and a councillor’s office are being renamed in five wards in the Msunduzi Municipality.

The unveiling of Comrades Road could not have come at a better time with a month to go to the hosting of the 97th Comrades Marathon on Sunday, 9 June, starting at the Durban City Hall and finishing at the Hollywood Bets Scottsville Racecourse, with Comrades Road forming part of the 85.91km route this year.

Msunduzi Municipality Speaker, Cllr Eunice Majola commented, “The Comrades Marathon, which has only ever been stopped by World War II and the recent pandemic, has a history as resilient and indomitable as the over 124,000 runners who have taken up its 55-mile challenge over the last 103 years.”

“The renaming of this road commemorates the iconic and historic legacy of the Comrades Marathon. It is a deep-seated recognition of the long and enduring 103-year old relationship that this race shares with the City of Pietermaritzburg. In the world of ultramarathons, no other event is more deserving of the honour of having the road on which its headquarters is based, named after it.”

CMA Heritage & Traditions Convenor, Isaac Ngwenya said, “We are so pleased that an iconic event like the Comrades Marathon finally has its street named after it, something that will remain for many generations to come. It is befitting that runners will get to finally run on this road as part of this year’s Comrades route and experience the joy that we feel today.”

CMA Chairperson, Mqondisi Ngcobo said, “We are deeply honoured that the Municipality has confirmed the renaming of Connaught Road to Comrades Road. The Comrades Marathon is a unique race with noble origins and many people have contributed to the success of this nation-building event. On behalf of the CMA Board, Staff, Race Organising Committee, runners, administrators and volunteers, we extend our appreciation to the Mayor, Councillors, Public Places and Street Naming Committee, and officials.”