Athletics South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal Athletics and Comrades Marathon Association have announced the cancellation of the 2020 Comrades Marathon, after long discussions.

comrades cancelled south africa
There will be no Comrades Marathon 2020 start. This year’s race has been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. Photo: Peter de Groot, PdG Pix

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.”

Comrades was previous cancelled during World War II

This is not the first time the race has had to be cancelled. 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) 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.

Cancellation brings profound sadness

CMA Chairperson Cheryl Winn said today: “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.”

Jay Reddy, KZN Athletics Administrator, added: “In this difficult time which has seen 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.

Comrades Marathon winner
Last year’s Comrades Marathon 2019 winners

“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.”

Everything Runners Need to Know Concerning Cancelled Entries for Comrades Marathon

Winn reassured runners on a number of practical issues, advising that CMA will deal with the roughly 2,500 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.

Comrades Marathon 2021

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.

“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.

Hope is a dream deferred

“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.

Athletics South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal Athletics and Comrades Marathon Association announce cancellation of the 2020 Comrades Marathon.

Posted by ComradesMarathon on Thursday, May 14, 2020