The annual Comrades marathon is one of the most popular running events in the world, attracting thousands of local and international runners each year. As most other sporting events, the Comrades was also cancelled in light of the coronavirus outbreak, leaving many runners – who have spent the past few months or even years training for this race – utterly disappointed.
In an effort to stay true to the spirit of the Comrades, which also sees runners fund a significant number of charitable organisations each year, the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) announced that a virtual race, dubbed “Race the Comrades Legends” would be taking place on the same day that the race would have been held.
On 14 June, more than 44 000 runners from 86 countries took to the road, treadmill, or their own backyards to take part in the event. “Race the Comrades Legends” was free to all South African runners that had already entered the 2020 Comrades Marathon. Runners could choose between distances of 5 km, 21 km, 45 km, and the full traditional 91 km. Participants included last year’s winners in the men’s and women’s race, Edward Mothibi and Gerda Steyn.
An online functionality on the Comrades Marathon website allowed runners to compare their run with those of some of the most prominent names in Comrades history, including Samuel Tshabalala, Frith van der Merwe and Bruce Fordyce.
All finishers receive a medal.
Speaking about the novel answer to the challenges that the coronavirus has brought, CMA general manager Keletso Tothlanyo said that the event would still be something runners could remember, even if they weren’t able to take part in the actual Comrades Marathon this year.
“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,” said Tothlanyo.
The results for the “Race the Comrades Legends” event can be seen here.