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Following on last week’s historic and regrettable cancellation of the 2020 Comrades Marathon and the manifest cancellation or postponement of nearly every mass-participation running event in the world, the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) today announced the launch of the one and only Comrades Marathon Association officially sanctioned virtual race, ‘Race the Comrades Legends’ and it will be one with a significant difference.

 

The #Comrades2020 may be cancelled but one thing’s for sure; if you sign up for and complete the CMA’s ‘Race The Comrades Legends’, your finishers medal is guaranteed.

 

The world’s greatest ultramarathon is all set to stage the world’s greatest virtual event with runners from around the globe invited to participate on Sunday, 14 June 2020, effectively one month from now, and entry is FREE to all South African runners who entered the 2020 Comrades Marathon.

 

It may seem new age to traditional Comrades Marathon runners but ‘Race the Comrades Legends’ is a great option for runners who for months have done training runs in isolation and no longer feel part of a close-knit running community.  The ‘Race the Comrades Legends’ will provide a platform to engage with other runners throughout South Africa and the rest of the world as well as opportunity for family members to participate in the action, all with the reassurance of safety and convenience, while here in South Africa doing so within the constraints of the government’s National Lockdown regulations.

The CMA’s ‘Race The Comrades Legends’ is a running concept based on the stories of the greatest Comrades Legends in history. The official Comrades Marathon website will include an online functionality where runners can virtually compete, run with and compare with each other and the likes of Bruce Fordyce, Frith van der Merwe, Samuel Tshabalala and many others; where each participant creates their own personal story and on completion is able to earn a real medal.

By creating an international virtual event with great public focus, based on a series of distances that various running legends have defined in their time, from the 5km to the marathon as well as the usual Comrades Marathon ultra, the CMA has effectively created a virtual mass-participation event for everyone to be a part of.

All that runners need to do is go to the Comrades website; register for ‘Race The Comrades Legends’; select their distance of 5km, 10km, 21km, 45km or 90km. Runners will also have the option of donating to an official Comrades Amabeadibeadi Charity should they so wish.

The cost is R150 for South African runners and $25 for foreign athletes.  Entry is free of charge to all runners who have entered the 2020 Comrades Marathon, who are however strongly encouraged if it is within their means to make a voluntary donation to the Official Charity of their choice.  Once registration is complete, runners will receive all vital race information and rules prior to the race.

Athletes will then run their race and capture their finish time using a normal timing device; upload their time manually, after which their results will be calculated and updated automatically. They will thereafter receive personalised race feedback by e-mail with results analysis and extended results comparison.

The programme will include full integration of all popular fitness apps, including Strava and Endomondo for direct upload; as well as Garmin, Polar and Suunto.

 

Runners who do not have any of these devices or apps can upload a GPX, TCX or FIT file format from other devices and apps or they can manually enter their time based on any watch.

The personalised ‘Race The Comrades Legends’ race results will then be integrated to include fun and novel finishers’ comparisons which can then be pitted against the Comrades Legends, like how did you compare to Wally Hayward or Zola Budd; your race position as opposed to theirs over previous Comrades runs; and your performance percentage-wise in your age category.

Further statistical comparisons will be done according to cities, regions and provinces; as well as comparisons of overall calculated handicaps in terms of age, weight and gender.

Delving deeper, a projection of a possible Comrades time over the shorter distances will be made, for example: a person entering the 10km race can be motivated to see that they can potentially compete in a Comrades in the future. The race feedback will serve to encourage the participant to stay in the circle for the next participation and if possible, direct the participant to such.

Additional comparison results can be published online in a personal results interface supplying the participants with a variety of interesting, and engaging content.  Every entrant will receive a digital race number prior to the race, a Virtual Medal and Certificate immediately after the race, personalised results comparisons and the great thing about participating in ‘Race The Comrades Legends’ is that all finishers will receive a real medal, which will be distributed as soon as possible after the race in terms of Lockdown Regulations, as opposed to the majority of virtual races which generally only award virtual medals.

All entrants will have the option of purchasing a commemorative T-shirt on entry, to denote their participation in this event.

The great thing about virtual running is that runners also get to hone their training plans, running methods, race day nutrition and hydration; all of which essentially helps you to become a better runner.

It works pretty much the same way as any other type of running but the difference is that the runner can run at any location, especially in the comfort of your own home, on a treadmill, outside in your garden, or neighbourhood, all at your own pace.

 

CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn says, “We welcome all athletes to be a part of ‘Race The Comrades Legends’. This is one of those innovations that will add to the Comrades spirit on Sunday, 14 June on what would have been our 95th race day but has obviously had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

 

Winn adds, “As always, we expect that our athletes will take the necessary precautions and observe the relevant constraints of the National Lockdown and adhere to social distancing norms, no matter which country you are in. However, this is one race in which we wish to unite South Africa and the world in one amazing virtual event.”

 

CMA General Manager, Keletso Totlhanyo says, “We have every intention of making ‘Race The Comrades Legends’ a memorable event where runners can participate in a virtual race and still receive a medal to remember a special accomplishment achieved within the confines of their homes, gardens and neighbourhoods.”

 

For more information on ‘Race The Comrades Legends’ and to enter, please click through HERE


 

THE 2020 COMRADES MARATHON HAS BEEN CANCELLED

 

Following long discussion with the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) Board and KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA, Athletics South Africa has announced the cancellation of the 2020 Comrades Marathon.

 

Making the announcement, ASA President Aleck Skhosana said: “Cancelling what would have been the 95th edition of the Comrades Marathon was a long and arduous decision to make. With the race’s rich history, its powerful nation-building attributes and contribution towards social cohesion, as well as its immense economic impact, it would have been premature to rush into an outright cancellation sooner. However, we believe we have jointly arrived at the correct decision to protect the health and safety of all concerned as well as the lives of our fellow South Africans.”

 

CMA Chairperson Cheryl Winn also explained that: “It is with profound sadness and regret that the CMA Board, in conjunction with ASA and KZNA, had to make this decision. We do so with the knowledge that it will come as a great disappointment to thousands of Comrades runners, who together with us at CMA, have been holding out hope that the race would somehow proceed.

 

“We had hoped to postpone The Ultimate Human Race to a date not later than end of September (owing to climatic conditions), but alas with the Covid-19 pandemic showing no signs of abating and anticipated to peak in the coming months, there is no telling what is yet to come. As CMA, it is incumbent upon us to prioritise the health, safety and well-being of our athletes, volunteers and stakeholders and therefore lamentably we will not be staging this year’s edition of the country’s leading road running event.”

 

Jay Reddy, KZN Athletics Administrator, added: “In this difficult time which has seen to the historic cancellation of one of KZNA’s flagship events, let us not succumb to despair, disappointment, and acceptance that we are victims of this pandemic. Let us rather celebrate that as athletes and other role players, we are sacrificing one of our major races in the knowledge that we are serving the interests of humanity. As KZNA we stand united in our endeavour to overcome the devastating consequences of this disease. We call upon all our members and associates to engage in strategies to address the broader issues of the environment and the pressing needs of our people in the true spirit of the Comrades. We urge our athletes to continue to observe the Covid-19 regulations, engage in activity responsibly, and take every precaution to prevent the spread of the virus.”

 

Winn reassured runners on a number of practical issues, advising that CMA will deal with the roughly 2500 Foreign and 25,000 South African entries received for the 2020 Comrades Marathon as follows:

 

  • With regard to South African entrants (based on the assumption that all entrants would have eventually qualified to participate in the race) every South African entrant (including the 485 who entered during the recent substitution period) will not be refunded their entry fee but will instead receive their #Comrades2020 mrpsport runners T-shirt and goodie bag, as well as a Comrades badge and flash. The details of the distribution process will be made available in due course in terms of the National Lockdown restrictions. For logistical reasons this will apply to South African entries only.

 

  • With regard to Foreign Entrants, in lieu of the cancellation, all Foreign Entries will be deferred to #Comrades2021 and/or #Comrades2022, depending upon the athletes’ wishes. In addition, foreign athletes will also have the option of availing their 2020 entry for substitution in 2021 only.

 

  • With regard to Back-to-Back Medals, those runners who completed their first Comrades Marathon on the 2019 Up Run to Pietermaritzburg will qualify for the Back-to-Back Medal upon completion of the 2021 Comrades Marathon Down Run.

 

This means that the #Comrades2021 will now be the 95th edition of The Ultimate Human Race, starting from the Pietermaritzburg City Hall at 5h30 and finishing 12 hours later at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. It will be the 47th Down Run which will also celebrate the Centenary of the Comrades Marathon Association which was founded on 24th May 1921. 

 

Exactly 80 years ago, Comrades Marathon organisers faced a similar dilemma in deciding whether to stage the 20th Comrades Marathon some eight months into the conflagration of World War II.  At the last moment it was decided to go ahead with just 23 starters, following the withdrawal of many runners who had been mobilised for the war effort.  Only 10 runners completed the 1940 Comrades Marathon.  The following year the race was cancelled and remained so for the duration of the war (1941 - 1945), as the organisers, runners and supporters stood in solidarity with all those who suffered the horrors and atrocities of war, similar to that of the World War 1 which had inspired the Comrades Marathon’s humble beginnings.

 

 “We thank each of our runners, supporters, volunteers and our incredible sponsors for their patience, fortitude and steadfast support over the past two months during which we have wrangled with this difficult decision. Sad as it is, as CMA we can now turn our focus towards the staging of our Centenary Celebrations next year in the comfort of knowing we can rely on the passionate loyalty and participation of so many. With reference to the inspirational theme of the cancelled edition Iphupho Lami / Dare to Dream, hope is a dream deferred,” concluded Winn.” 

 

Ends

 

For interviews, contact:

ASA President, Aleck Skhosana on 072 014 7660

For clarity on logistics, contact:

CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn on 082 779 0824

 

 

#LetsBeatThis / #AthleticsAgainstCorona / #BeatTheVirus

 

 

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  • Twitter: @AthleticsSA_

 

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             www.athletics.org.za

 

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