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‘Giving is not just about making a donation; it is about making a difference.’


“Our Comrades Race4Charity runners are an absolute inspiration and their motivation and passion spurs us on to do more, give more and be more,” says Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) Charities & CSI Convenor, Pat Freeman, who has thanked all Comrades Marathon runners, supporters, sponsors and the public at large for their big-heartedness in contributing to this year’s Comrades Amabeadibeadi charity drive.


The CMA officially handed over the funds raised via entries into the 2020 Comrades Marathon (‘The Race That Never Was’) and the inaugural ‘Race The Comrades Legends’ virtual event to its six Official Amabeadibeadi Charities this week.


With the National Lockdown discouraging large gatherings, the CMA opted for an innovative virtual handover as opposed to the hosting of its traditional charities handover event at Comrades House.


R2.28-million was distributed to the six official Amabeadibeadi charities, namely the Durban & Pietermaritzburg Community Chests, Childhood Cancer Foundation (CHOC), Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust, Hospice Palliative Care Association, Wildlands Conservation Trust and World Vision SA.


This amount included R330-thousand raised via the CMA’s inaugural virtual event, ‘Race The Comrades Legends’ which was hosted on Sunday, 14 June.


Runners who chose to Race4Charity raised R557-thousand with Dean Wight raising just over R400-thousand of those funds for the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust, and being the Top Charity Fundraiser for the third consecutive year.


Freeman added, “In the spirit of the Comrades Marathon, every runner is a winner, therefore in my opinion, every charity becomes a winner too. On a daily basis I am taken aback by the commitment and passion that drives our six official Amabeadibeadi charities to deliver on their mandate and go the extra mile. The effort, time and commitment by these do-gooders is nothing short of phenomenal.”


CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn says, “Thank you to each one of you. Given that Covid-19 disrupted many of our plans, we still managed to achieve a lot and were able to once again demonstrate that Comrades Marathon Runners care. I hope that we will achieve a whole lot more as we work towards the 2021 Comrades centenary celebrations.”


CMA General Manager, Keletso Totlhanyo says, We salute each and every runner who has donated to our fundraising drive as well as all of the official charities who give of their best on a daily basis to make our country a better place.”


The CMA has produced a video to reflect the wonderful work of our Amabeadibeadi charities, including messages from the CMA and the respective charity representatives. Watch the handover video here: https://youtu.be/GG5RpXhYwN4b


Comrades Marathon thanks Bonitas for its long-term sponsorship


The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has thanked Bonitas Medical Fund for serving as a major sponsor to The Ultimate Human Race for the past 15 years, putting Runners First and adding substantial value to the Comrades Marathon. 


The Bonitas brand became synonymous with the world-renowned Comrades Marathon by hosting the inimitable Comrades Marathon Start and a key on-route presence which included the Comrades Marathon kilometre marker boards, their striking brand activations at Pinetown and Botha’s Hill along the famous 90km Comrades route, as well as their trademark red and white brand name on the Comrades Marathon individual runner’s race numbers.


Bonitas also hosted the Winners Circle at the Comrades Marathon Finish Venue, as a component of its presence at the Comrades Marathon Finish and supported the Comrades Bailer Buses for many years, in addition to their brand being emblazoned on nearly half a million Comrades goodie bags over the duration of their sponsorship and in later years, supplied body warmers and the much-loved arm sleeves to all Comrades Marathon participants.  


On the television broadcast side they also sponsored the Bonitas Eye-in-the-Sky helicopter, which provided a birds-eye view and brought a fascinating additional dimension to the Comrades race day commentary.


As one of South Africa’s leading medical aid provisioners, Bonitas became a regular sight not just on race day but throughout the year, at Comrades Marathon qualifying races, roadshows, the Comrades Marathon novice and women’s seminars, webinars and most notably with their award-winning expo stand and physiotherapy facilities at the annual 3-day Comrades Marathon Expo over the past decade.


The relationship grew to such an extent that Bonitas Medical Fund became an integral partner to the incredible Comrades Marathon story, working in collaboration with the organising team behind ‘The Ultimate Human Race’ to make it a success and also to help raise funds for the Amabeadibeadi charities.

In an unprecedented gesture of gratitude for its long-standing and outstanding contribution to the Comrades Marathon success story, last year CMA accorded Bonitas with the gratuitous honour of the branding rights for the world famous and most highly photographed and televised Comrades Marathon Finish Banner.


Bonitas has however decided to not renew its sponsorship, meaning they will not be on the start or finish line from 2021.


‘It is not a decision we took lightly’, says Lee Callakoppen, Principal Officer of Bonitas. ‘After this long association we are still very invested in the ethos behind the race. Every year we have been in awe of the dedication, tenacity and commitment of the thousands of local and international runners who tackle this gruelling route.  It’s all about celebrating ordinary people doing extraordinary things.’


‘As a leading healthcare provider and a medical aid for South Africa, we have always known the importance of quality healthcare. However, Covid-19 has made this even more so. It has meant us adapting our business model to be more agile to ensure we are providing members the care they need. We have therefore decided to channel our funds into strategic healthcare and wellness initiatives.’


CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn wished Bonitas well, saying, ‘We would like to thank Bonitas for their many years of investment and support. During those 15 years, together we were able to introduce innovative ideas and host informative seminars and workshops to assist runners, all thanks to Bonitas, who were with us every step of the way.”


‘We’re pleased that the last year of our collaboration was a memorable one. The actual 2020 Comrades Marathon might have been cancelled due to the global Covid-19 pandemic however, our ‘Race The Comrades Legends’ virtual run was an overwhelming success, with 43,788 participants running in cities, towns, villages and rural areas throughout South Africa and around the world, proudly brandishing their Bonitas Comrades Race Numbers as a testament to how as runners we can adapt our sport and survive.’


Winn adds, ‘We are of course saddened at the parting of ways with Bonitas after so many years, but CMA is already actively seeking new high profile sponsors to take up the rights, commencing with what will be our most innovative, inclusive and momentous 2021 Centenary Year Celebrations.’


In conclusion, Callakoppen wished CMA all the best for 2021 and beyond. ‘The Comrades is such an iconic and proudly South African event and we are very proud to have been part of the journey for all these years.’


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