The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) rewarded some amazing individuals for showcasing the spirit of Comrades at its annual awards gala in Durban on Friday, 24 October 2014. The CATHSSETA Spirit of Comrades awards gala honours select individuals for their very human attributes of selflessness, dedication, perseverance and Ubuntu; combined with their love for The Ultimate Human Race.
The prestigious awards gala has been a defining feature of the CMA since 1996. The Spirit of Comrades recipients were presented with a one-ounce, 24 carat gold medallion, courtesy of CATHSSETA (Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality & Sports Sector Education & Training Authority) as well as a very deserving accolade.
The awardees are nominated by CMA members, Comrades Marathon runners and the general public; and are subject to the discretion of the CMA Board. The awards criteria place special emphasis on Comrades Marathon winners, legends, volunteers and otherwise ordinary heroes and heroines, who through individual acts of service, sacrifice, courage or perseverance, either in a single race or over a period of time, exhibit the noble qualities associated with The Ultimate Human Race.
The first Spirit of Comrades awardee was Fiona Scholtz. Fiona is a proud Comrades Green Number runner who has run The Ultimate Human Race 18 times. Three years ago, Fiona was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease which necessitated numerous operations, culminating in major surgery in November last year to remove all affected parts of her intestines. Undeterred, Fiona started her training within weeks of the surgery and completed her 18th Comrades run in 10:42:44. Fiona is lauded for her cheerfulness and encouragement of other runners.
Debbie Schoeman was the second recipient. She has been described as the most selfless person; having sacrificed her 2014 Comrades medal to help another runner who had collapsed 300m before the finish line due to a heart attack. Debbie helped to resuscitate him. By the time he had regained consciousness, Debbie realized that she had missed the cut-off time by 9 minutes. She didn’t mind though thanks to her belief that saving someone’s life is more important than finishing a race.
The final recipients was a husband-wife pair, Joy and Bernard Murphy, who have been attending and supporting the Comrades Marathon for 46 years. For nearly half a century, this amazing couple has only missed the Comrades Marathon once, when Joy had to be hospitalized in 2012. They have not run the race but passionately support it with all they’ve got. Coming from Springs, they are known to support every runner from the Springs Striders and Midrand Striders running clubs as well as just about every other Comrades runner. They can usually be seen at the 26km-to-go marker board where they stock a host of refreshments for the runners. Joy and Bernard will turn 77 and 81 years old respectively this year and their love for Comrades has been described as totally phenomenal.
Another facet of the glitzy evening is the CMA’s Journalist of the Year Award. This is a sincere acknowledgement and appreciation of the important and enduring work of the media and rewards the journalist who has shown a year –long interest in the Comrades Marathon; and in that spirit has generated the most articles on the 2014 Ultimate Human Race. Jacobus Venter was honoured as the top reporter for this year’s race and received a cash reward and due recognition for the great coverage.
The CMA is exceedingly proud and passionate about its charity initiative Amabeadbeadi, which benefits 6 officially recognised charities. The Amabeadibeadi Top Donor Award is presented to the person who has raised the most funds for the CMA’s Amabeadibeadi charities for the 2014 Comrades Marathon. Blake Dyason claimed the title of the 2014 Amabeadibeadi Top Donor.
The CMA is also mindful of the efforts given off by individuals and organizations who have contributed in a significant way to the Comrades Marathon Association over the years. Due recognition and appreciation was accorded to these do-gooders for their outstanding service or for going beyond the call of duty in adding value to the Comrades Marathon via the CMA’s Certificate of Appreciation. Outgoing major sponsor CATHSSETA was a recipient of this token of appreciation as well as Craig Eldridge for his many years of IT support and backup.
Over the years, the CMA has also recognized key role-players in the Comrades Marathon family. Six deeply deserving individuals were presented in this regard with a CMA Life Membership Award. A member who has rendered outstanding meritorious service to the race shall be eligible for Life Membership of the CMA. This is an acknowledgement and recognition of services rendered to the CMA over a period of time.
CMA Life Membership awards were presented to:
Celi Makhoba who has served on the Executive Committee and the CMA Board for 6 years. He has also served as Convener of the Technical Portfolio for 15 years.
Arnie Glasspoole who has driven the Comrades sweep vehicle for 12 years. He has also assisted with Finish Procedure for 12 years as well as assisting with the Green Number Club for 12 years. He has run the Comrades Marathon 17 times.
Eileen Hall who has been a member of the CMA’s CSI initiative, the Greater Edendale Race for 7 years. She is also the Green Number Club Convener and has been running this portfolio for 5 years. She has also served on the CMA’s Board for two years and has run 10 Comrades Marathons.
Isaac Ngwenya who has served on the Executive Committee for 4 years. He was the CMA Vice Chairman for 2 years and Convener for the Community Marshals for 10 years. He has been the Convener for the Risk & Safety portfolio for 6 years and has run 15 Comrades.
Paula Dixon who has served as the convener for the CMA’s Catering portfolio for 15 years.
Dudley St John Ward who has served as Finish Procedure Convener for 15 years.
The CMA Honours with Life Membership Award was presented to CMA Chairman, Macdonald Chitja for particularly outstanding meritorious service to the race and for contributing outstanding leadership to CMA. He has served on the Race Organising Committee since 1999, having started volunteering with the Pietermaritzburg Registration portfolio.
He was then co-opted onto the CMA Executive Committee in 2000. Since then, he has been a member of the CMA Board and also held the Vice-Chairman position on several occasions.
Over the years, Chitja has held various other portfolios, including being the convener & Chairman of the CMA Transformation Committee. He was also responsible for drafting the current CMA Transformation Policy. Further to that, he also chaired the CMA’s CSI committee for several years as well as well as serving on the Legal & Constitution Committee.
Having a passion for the CMA’s corporate social investment initiatives, Chitja has been the Co-convener of the Edendale Race since its inception in 2007 and will oversee the eight running of this community initiative.
Add to that, the fact that he is a proud member of the Green Number Club and has finished the Comrades Marathon 16 times.