Comrades Marathon cancelled for the first time since World War II

General views at the finish line during the 2018 Comrades Marathon on June 10, 2018 in Durban, South Africa.
General views at the finish line during the 2018 Comrades Marathon on June 10, 2018 in Durban, South Africa.
Image: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

As expected, there won’t be a Comrades Marathon this year after organisers confirmed that the race had been cancelled.

The ultra-marathon which was due to take place on June 14 was postponed to a later date last month, but with the Covid-19 pandemic numbers increasing daily, the organisers have now decided to stop the race.

This will come as another huge disappointment for the running fraternity who were looking forward to the race following the cancellations of other marathons in the past few months.

Making the announcement, Athletics South Africa president Aleck Skhosana said it was the right decision to cancel the race.

“Cancelling what would have been the 95th edition of the Comrades Marathon was a long and arduous decision to make,” Skhosana said in a statement.

“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 Marathon Association (CMA) chairperson Cherly Winn said they were forced to cancel the race because of the Covid-19 pandemic continuing.

“It is with profound sadness and regret that the CMA Board, in conjunction with ASA and KZNA, had to make this decision,” Winn said in a statement.

“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 the 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.”

Winn also confirmed that runners will not be refunded their entry fee but will only receive their t-shirts and goodie bag.