Things have really got underway in the past month. If I’m honest, I can’t remember all the boxes we’ve ticked off… right now, we remain focused on all the other things we have yet to do.

First off, the Comrades Marathon team assisted in the manning of three race/event water points – the first at the Capital City Marathon, the second at the Umgeni Water Marathon, and most recently on Day 3 of the Beloved Long Runs Comrades 3-in-1 route tester held over the Easter Weekend. This was done in an effort to make the office more accessible to the public, and to better entrench the Comrades Marathon within the running community that we serve. We will be partnering with Mr Price Sport to assist with a waterpoint in Hillcrest as part of the Beloved Long Run route tester on 4 May. We look forward to seeing you out there.

During the first week of March members of the Race Organising Committee held their first series of meetings to discuss and plan the hosting of the race on 9 June. Subsequent to those meetings, the CMA office put out an appeal for volunteers to assist in the preparations for the race, as well as on race day. An online form has been made available through the Comrades Marathon website for this purpose and we have been very grateful to receive the support of the local communities in filling several of our gaps for volunteers. If you have not yet signed up to assist, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Working together with the Race Organising Committee, the Office has been able to finalise the layout of the start and finish areas and has engaged with local school to assist with parking on race day. At present, spectators at the finish in Pietermaritzburg will be able to park at Scottsville Primary School, Longmarket Girls School and, tentatively, at the Woodburn Rugby Stadium. VIP guests at the finish are to make use of the St Charles College school fields.

Comrades Media and Communications Manager, Delaine Cools, and I visited the Durban Exhibition Centre to view the proposed Expo layout. While the sale of Comrades Expo stands remains ongoing, we already have more than 100 exhibitors showcasing a wide range of exciting products and services. Should you be interested in taking up a stand at the Expo, please do get in touch.

Comrades IT Manager, Jared Williams, has been working hard on the creation of an interactive route map detailing each of the sponsor activations, runner refreshment points, elite water tables and route cut-offs. Jared has also been working on the placement of timing mats along the route, the seeding of elite and non-elite athletes and the identification of any participant who has submitted inaccurate or false qualifying data. We are really trying to crack down on cheats and rule-breakers this year and, for this reason, are closely monitoring the submission of all qualifying information.

Alain Dalais, the Comrades Procurement Officer, has placed orders for additional port-a-loos and urinals at the start, finish and on-route. We have also mapped out exactly where the new ladies-only toilets will be located and have approached a sponsor to supply sanitary products for collection and use by ladies at these points on route. Meetings have also been held with Gearhouse, our suppliers of sound; Finish Time, responsible for the timing of all race results; as well as Red Alert, Excellerate and Bhejane, responsible for security at the start, finish and on route. Every effort is being made to ensure that this year’s event is a safe and successful one.

Finally, I am thrilled to report that this year’s runners t-shirts have arrived at Comrades House and that we have placed an additional, or top-up, order for race t-shirts to ensure that all participants receive a t-shirt in the correct size this year. Our Finisher’s Jackets are currently “on the water” and are due to arrive two weeks before the race. Exciting times!

Things are busy here at Comrades House… but the staff is working really well together and the team remains focused on hosting an incredible race. The race truly is starting to take shape, and we feel confident that all participants and spectators are going to be happy with the line-up we have planned.