The Comrades Marathon (South Africa) is turning 80 - at 89 kilometres, however, it is an ultra-marathon, more than double as long as a “normal” marathon.
Next to the events in Boston (1897) and Kosice (1924), the "Comrades" has one of the longest race traditions in the world. The organisers cherish this tradition and treasure their regular participants, as well. The "Blue Number-Club" is the model upon which the BERLIN MARATHON Jubilee Club is based. With a second famous and traditional race, the "Two Oceans Marathon", South Africa has produced many famous and successful runners. The first great victory of a black South African at a marathon outside of the country occurred shortly after the end of Apartheid, when David Tsebe won the 19th BERLIN MARATHON on September 27, 1992 in 2:08:07. One year later, on September 26, 1993, another South African, Xolile Yawa, won the 20th BERLIN MARATHON in 2:10:57.
We congratulate the still youthful 80-year-old COMRADES!
The 2005 Comrades Marathon is set to get off to a spectacular start on 16 June as the City of Choice lays on a magnificent Fireworks display to mark the occasion of the 80th running of the world famous event which originated in Pietermaritzburg.
For the first time in the history of the event a pyrotechnics display will light up the morning sky immediately following the starter gun, which sets 14 000 runners off on an epic journey to Durban.
According to tradition dating back to the first Comrades Marathon in 1921, Mayor Hloni Zondi will fire the Gun from atop the portico of the historic Pietermaritzburg City Hall. This will be the signal to set off a show, which should thrill and inspire the runners, on the “down run” this year.
“It is a grand gesture ...
“It is a grand gesture on the part of our City,” said CMA Chairperson Dave Dixon, “and we deeply appreciate the manner in which Pietermaritzburg has contributed towards marking the special occasion of our 80th celebrations.”
“Our Deputy Mayor will also host a Civic Reception at Comrades Marathon House on Friday, 10 June to mark the solemn occasion of the unveiling of the Robert Mtshali Memorial which opens the Forgotten Comrades Exhibition in our Museum.” Robert Mtshali was the first black man to complete the Comrades Marathon “unofficially” in 1935. The Forgotten Comrades Exhibition focuses on all the men and women who did so “unofficially” prior to 1975 when the race became the first major sporting event in South Africa opened to all races and both sexes.”
Celebrate 80 years of history and tradition
“On race day we celebrate 80 years of history and tradition, even as we are mindful of the origins of the race being rooted in commemoration of the comrades of the First World War, as well as the sanctity and significance of Youth Day. It is owing to the sacrifices and struggles of others who have gone before us that we are able to celebrate,” said Dixon.
The organisers are appealing to pet-owners to be forewarned that the fireworks display will take place in the city centre on Youth Day, Thursday, 16 June 2005 between 05h30 and 05h40, and advising pet-owners to take reasonable steps to protect and secure them.
TOP WOMEN - 2005 COMRADES MARATHON
Once again a strong Russian presence amongst the top women. The top fourteen women consist of seven Russians, one German and six South Africans.
Elena Nurgalieva The more dominant of the formidable Russian twins, Elena has won the past two Comrades and Two Oceans Marathons, setting a new record for the Comrades Marathon “Up Run” last year.
2003 – 1st 6:07:46 Down
2004 – 1st 6:11:15 Up
Oelysa Nurgalieva The other of the 29-year-old Russian twin sisters finished 2nd in 2003 and 4th last year. The twins will be competing in the colours of Mr Price.
2003 – 2nd 6:12:07 Down
2004 – 4th 6:20:32 Up
Maria Bak At 46 years of age, the German former champion is arguably one of the most successful female runners in the history of the Comrades Marathon. She has 8 gold medals to her credit, including 3 wins.
TOP MEN – 2005 COMRADES MARATHON
The men’s race is dominated by local talent with sixteen South Africans, one Russian, one Pole, one Lesotho citizen and one Belarussian citizen turned SA permanent resident comprising the top twenty competitors.
Andrew Kelehe The most consistent performer of recent years has earned gold in the past 8 Comrades Marathons. The 40-year-old policeman from Mafikeng has run nine Comrades Marathons, every one of them under 6 hours. His times indicate a preference for the Down Run in which only Bruce Fordyce has ever run faster. He will be running for Liberty Nike CG.