Comrades Marathon cancelled in its centenary year due to COVID-19

The race is in its centenary year after the first race was staged on 4 May in 1921, with this year's event set for 13 June.

FILE: In this undated picture, runners take part in the Comrades Marathon. Picture: comrades.com

JOHANNESBURG - The Comrades Marathon has been cancelled for the second year in a row because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The race is in its centenary year after the first race was staged on 4 May in 1921, with this year's event set for 13 June.

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) confirmed on Wednesday that the event will take place - virtually - as it did in 2020 where over 43,000 participants from more than 100 nations took part.

A CMA statement read: "After having late last year, undertaken to make announcements in mid-February regarding requirements for qualification and the staging of the 2021 Comrades Marathon, the decision to cancel will come as an enormous disappointment to tens of thousands of runners; and has also been a tough call for CMA organisers to make, in what is the world-renowned Race’s Centenary year."

It said the decision was based on, among others, the onset of a second wave and a significantly more infectious variant of COVID-19, as well as the ongoing National State of Disaster and its associated restrictions.

"The CMA Board is determined that the health, safety and welfare of Comrades runners, officials, volunteers and the general public remains paramount even after having held out hope that the nation’s most unifying road running event would have been able to be hosted in June. The impending third wave of COVID-19 which is widely anticipated around April to June this year, has ended any such hopes and makes the hosting of any mass event in the near future highly unlikely."

The CMA will, however, launch its centenary celebrations on Monday, 24 May 2021.

CMA chair Cheryl Winn said: “What we can confirm is that the festivities of the Comrades Marathon Centenary Celebrations will commence on 24 May and we invite all South Africans and our global running community to join in the revelry and remembrance of South Africa’s and the world’s oldest and greatest ultra-road running event.”

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