The Comrades Marathon Association held its annual Gold Fields Spirit of Comrades Awards Ceremony in Ballito on Friday 23 October 2009, at which three deserving recipients were awarded.

The Gold Fields Spirit of Comrades Awards are presented annually to a maximum of three individuals who are “esteemed to embody the Spirit of the Comrades Marathon”.

The Awards have been presented annually since 1995 at the discretion of the CMA Board, on the basis of nominations received from CMA members, Comrades Marathon runners and the general public. The criteria for the awards is deliberately wide enough to accommodate Comrades Marathon Winners, Legends, Volunteers and otherwise ordinary heroes who through individual acts of sacrifice, service, courage or perseverance, either in a single race, or over a period of time, demonstrate the noble qualities associated with the race.

The first Gold Fields Spirit of Comrades Award was presented to Josaya Moima.

Josaya hails from Elandsdoorn, Limpopo, where he had a humble upbringing. Josaya`s love and passion for running started as a young boy growing up in impoverished conditions and through his ambition and self motivation he would not accept things the way they were, and he was determined to be someone who people could look up to as a role model. Josaya works as a fitness trainer at a local gym, teaching and mentoring the youth on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. Josaya was inspired by his running accomplishments, (he has completed 8 Comrades) and wanted to impart his running successes and passion to others. Josaya is a confident and enthusiastic person, and he took his love for running and founded “Ndlovu Road Runners Athletics Club,” in 2006. He knew that this would be extremely difficult, but he was so dedicated and committed to this, that he never gave up, as failure was not an option. His ambition with the Club was two fold, one being to have his own club with runners competing in the Comrades Marathon and secondly to identify young talented boys and girls from his community, and give them the opportunity to realize their abilities, as well as educate his community on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. In order for Josaya and his club to be successful and offer a complete support structure for these athletes, he approached local business in order for them to support his vision and dreams. To this Forever Resorts, Spar, LIMA, Asics and the Royal Dutch Embassy, got involved and assist where they could. Ndlovu Road Runners has grown to over 200 members and in 2009 six runners from Ndlovu Road Runners completed the Comrades Marathon. Josaya remains committed to his Club and the runners. He is confident that the entry numbers for Comrades from Ndlovu Road Runners will increase each year and he is certain that he is making a difference within his community. For his unwavering support and commitment to his community, in true Comrades spirit, Josaya was awarded the Gold Fields Spirit of Comrades Award.

The second Gold Fields Spirit of Comrades Award was presented to Ann Margolin.

Ann Margoiln resides in Cape Town, with her husband Izzy and four children (three sons and one daughter). Ann owns, managers and runs a convenience store in Parden Island, Cape Town. Her husband Izzy describes Ann as, “a caring, loving person who is dedicated, committed, respectful and determined to succeed in everything she does in life. A person that has a never give up attitude, and lives life to the fullest”. Ann ran Comrades for the first time in 1983 and has since completed 27 consecutive races, which is the highest number of Comrades Marathons finishes for a female athlete. This is a remarkable feat as she is one of only 174 people to have completed 25 or more Comrades Marathons. Ann has proved that the average person can achieve anything they wish for, through a little effort and determination, anyone can complete the Comrades Marathon. In November 2008 Ann was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery in January 2009, which was unsuccessful. Ann and her family decided to delay the second surgery until eight days after the 2009 Comrades Marathon, as she did not want to miss the race. Ann was not able to train from January 2009 to Comrades race day. In true Comrades spirit through determination, physical and mental strength Ann ran purely on experience and completed the 2009 race. This is indicative of the person she is and that nothing is too hard to conquer. Eight days after Comrades 2009 Ann underwent the second surgery, which to date has been successful. Ann’s running accomplishments include double permanent numbers for the Foot of Africa Marathon, Knysna Marathon, Daisy Marathon, Winelands Marathon, Peninsula Marathon and the Karoo Ultra Marathon. She also holds the woman’s record for the most consecutive Old Mutual Two Oceans finishers (28). Ann has also won the Karoo Ultra Marathon four times. Presently Ann is categorized as a cancer survivor and has been given the go ahead to start running gradually and get back to her normal routine. Ann aspires to run the 2010 Comrades Marathon. For embodying the Spirit of Comrades Ann was awarded the Gold Fields Spirit of Comrades Award.

The third and last Gold Fields Spirit of Comrades Award was presented to Leon Van Wyk.

Leon grew up in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal. As a young man he moved to Pietermaritzburg, where he gained employment in the insurance industry. A dedicated and determined man Leon would not accept failure or anything less than the absolute best. His personality of being an “overachiever” came to the fore where he also dedicated many of his free hours to the Fire Department where he assisted as a reservist. Whilst working and devoting precious time to the Fire Department, Leon also managed to fit in road running, which he is extremely passionate about. Leon is a family man, and currently resides in Gauteng, Bryanston. Andy McKissock, describes Leon as, ‘A humble, caring man who comes across as “hard” but has a heart of gold, this is evident through his success in business, as well as his nature of caring for stray animals.” Many a runner that has completed ten or more Comrades Marathons, have received a surprise gift from Leon in the post, which would be a clock. These clocks are hand made by Leon at his own expense. The clock is mounted on a wooden plaque, with the runners Comrades History and achievements as well as a small cartoon at the bottom, which is carefully thought out by Leon. Leon began doing this out of his own will for runners, and then later expanded this to include individuals that have been involved with race organization, (volunteers and CMA officials) who he felt has made a difference and contributed in a selfless manner to the success of the Comrades Marathon. These clocks have become so popular with runners that many individuals now nominate fellow runners who they feel should receive a clock from Leon. Leon is one of the original Collegians runners and administrators, and has completed 35 Comrades Marathons. A man that is truly committed to the Comrades Marathon, when the race ran into financial difficulties and the organizers could not afford to purchase and award medals to all finishers. Leon took it upon himself and manufactured all finishers medals at his own expense and donated them to the Comrades Marathon. His only condition was that he didn’t want this information to be publicized, as he did not assist the organizers for any personal gain whatsoever. Leon was a founder member of Debulamanzi Canoe Club (1979), Randburg Harriers (1982), and Chairman of Transvaal Masters (1992 – 1995) Leon has inspired countless Comrades runners and is a man that will continue to do excellent work behind the scenes. For his tireless commitment and dedication towards the Comrades Marathon, Leon was awarded the Gold Fields Spirit of Comrades Award.

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