Comrades project opens race to poor

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

About 800 athletes' dreams of running the Comrades Marathon will soon come true.

The Comrades Underprivileged Runner's Project will pay for the travelling costs, accommodation and meals for the runners who cannot afford the costs of participating in the marathon.

Gary Boshoff, Comrades Marathon general manager, said he was proud of the project's success.

"This year we are expecting about 800 runners. Five of our sponsors are involved in making this dream a reality," said Boshoff.

"The Comrade Marathon Association [CMA] was committed to extending the Comrades family to the furthest corners of South Africa.

"The marathon belongs to every South African - it is a living heritage of what this country and its people are about," he said.

"Through the Underprivileged Runners Project, we make it possible for those who normally would not have been able to participate to now become part of the family of Comrades Marathon runners."

The initiative, which was initially known as the Nedbank Home- Away-From-Home project, has grown steadily each year since it was started two years ago.

The CMA said it had also partnered with Greyhound Bus Service this year, which will help transport athletes to the race.

The buses will depart from Polokwane, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein on Friday.

The underprivileged runners will be accommodated at the Royal Show Grounds in Pietermaritzburg.