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Comrades 2022: smaller field, entrance fee doubled, vax certificate required

19 February 2022 - 15:34
Gerda Steyn was the first woman to cross the Comrades Marathon finish line in 2019, the last time the ultra-marathon was staged.
Gerda Steyn was the first woman to cross the Comrades Marathon finish line in 2019, the last time the ultra-marathon was staged.
Image: Jackie Clausen

This year’s Comrades Marathon, back after a two-year Covid-19 hiatus, is not only set to have fewer runners but the entry fee has doubled.

The world’s oldest and largest ultra-marathon will be run for the 95th time this year after the 2021 centenary run was cancelled because of the pandemic.

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) held the 2022 race media launch this week, saying the event would be held in August this year and for the foreseeable future.

The marathon has traditionally been run in June and has attracted fields of up to 23,000 runners. This year's entry has been capped at 15,000 due to limits on mass participation events.

Race director Rowyn James said would-be participants must produce their vaccine certificate by July 12.

The entry fee has been hiked from R600 to R1,200 for SA athletes. Entries open on March 23 and will close on March 31 or when the 15,000 cap is reached. Only those who have run 25 or more Comrades will have their fees waived.

CMA vice-chair Les Burnard said: “A costing exercise done in 2019 revealed that it costs R1,384 for every runner on the road. Our entry fee is less than that, so sponsorship is required to fund the balance.”

This year’s down run will take place on August 28, starting at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall at 5.30am and ending 90.2km away at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Runners have 12 hours to finish.

A R260,000 prize is on offer for the man or woman who manages the best down run time. The men’s record is held by David Gatebe, who ran 5:18:19 in 2016. Frith van der Merwe has been the women’s record holder since 1989 when she ran 5:54:43.

Sports promoter Ray de Vries said it was “magic” to have the Comrades back “in whatever way or form possible”.

He said despite lower prize money, higher fees, limited entries and vaccine requirements, the event promises to be great.

“SA has been starved of events like this and it’s time we got back into it,” said De Vries.

TimesLIVE


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