First in 75 years: sadness and regret as Comrades Marathon falls victim to Covid-19

15 May 2020 - 12:06
By Unathi Nkanjeni
This year's world-famous ultra-marathon is yet another victim of Covid-19.
Image: Pictures: COMRADES MARATHON ASSOCIATION This year's world-famous ultra-marathon is yet another victim of Covid-19.

The cancellation of Comrades Marathon 2020 has left many runners and supporters  heartbroken.

The ultra-marathon's officials announced on Thursday that this year's race has been cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This will be the first time in 75 years the marathon will not take place.

“It is with profound sadness and regret that the Comrades Marathon Association Board, in conjunction with KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KNA) and Athletics South Africa (ASA), had to make this decision,” said Cheryl Winn, the Comrades Marathon Association's chairperson.

“We had hoped to postpone The 'ultimate human race' to a date not later than the end of September, but 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.”

South African entrants, including the 485 who entered during the recent substitution period, will not be refunded their entry fee but will instead receive their runner's T-shirt and goody bag, as well as a Comrades badge and flash.

Foreign entries will be deferred to Comrades 2021 or Comrades 2022, depending on the athletes’ wishes. In addition, foreign athletes will also have the option of availing their 2020 entry for substitution in 2021 only.

Jay Reddy, KNA administrator, urged athletes to continue to observe the Covid-19 regulations, “engage in activities responsibly, and take every precaution to prevent the spread of the virus”.

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

On social media, many runners and enthusiasts expressed despair while others said they would continue training regardless of the cancellation.

Here is a snapshot of some reactions: