Wrapping Up 2016


Check out all the latest news and important info from the world’s biggest, oldest and most famous ultra, the Comrades Marathon. – BY DELAINE COOLS & THAMI VILAKAZI

The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) has confirmed that none of the Top 10 athletes in the 2016 Comrades Marathon Men’s and Women’s races have tested positive for any banned substances. SAIDS General Manager, Fahmy Galant, said, “We are pleased to be able to report that no athlete in these groups, that is the top ten men and top ten women, tested positive for any prohibited substances as per the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List for 2016. Therefore, prize monies to the top ten men and women finishers can be paid.”
The 91st Comrades Marathon on Sunday 29 May saw South African runners claiming the winning positions once again, with TomTom Athletic Club’s David Gatebe breaking the ‘Down-run’ best time by two minutes and 22 seconds, and Nedbank Running Club’s Charne Bosman claiming the women’s top position.
CMA General Manager Chris Fisher said, “We are extremely pleased with the outcome of the drug tests. Our athletes have worked hard and made the country very proud of their epic achievements. We congratulate our winners in all categories and thank them for upholding the integrity of the sport. We also wish to extend our appreciation to ASA, KZNA and SAIDS for the urgency with which they handled this, and in ensuring that the testing and results were turned around in the quickest possible time.”


The 92nd Comrades Marathon will be launched in Johannesburg in August, and the 47th Up-run in Comrades history will start outside the Durban City Hall on Sunday 4 June 2017. And if you want to start planning for 2018, the race will take place on Sunday 10 June, as the decision has been taken to permanently position the race on the second Sunday of June from 2018 onwards – that weekend is not available in 2017 due to clashing with other large events in the KZN area.
Have you spotted yourself on the 2016 Comrades Start Line? Thanks to major sponsor Bonitas, Comrades runners can get a glimpse of themselves as they cross the start line of The Ultimate Human Race. Please go to www.bonitas.co.za/comrades and watch the videos, shot from various angles, and broken up into short time segments. Have some fun trying to spot yourself!
Team Comrades has been lauded for the immaculate staging of the Comrades Marathon this year, and CMA General Manager Chris Fisher has thanked the team members for their comradeship, commitment and dedication in putting together a memorable 2016 Comrades.
Fisher says, “From the epic start of the race, all the way through the 89km route, the scores of well-stocked refreshment stations and the finish at the Sahara-Kingsmead Cricket Stadium, the team came together and showcased the true spirit of Comrades. The team spirit of the 6000 volunteers who so freely give of their time and effort cannot go unnoticed. The success of The Ultimate Human Race is mostly thanks to this amazing band of Comrades do-gooders. We are very grateful to Team Comrades.”
The official Comrades Marathon Coach, Lindsey Parry, has devised a comprehensive training programme to get you on the start line of the 2017 Ultimate Human Race and to achieve your coveted Comrades medal. Follow this link to access the much-needed information and training tips: www.comrades.com.
One of the six official Comrades charities, Wildlands, recently launched its Green Desk Initiative. As part of this, waste collected from the Comrades Marathon route on race day has been recycled to create innovative ‘green school desks’ to serve the educational needs of South African schoolchildren.
Up till now these multi-layered plastics have not been recyclable, and have been incinerated or ended up on landfill sites. Wildlands CEO Andrew Venter says, “There is a shortage of more than 300,000 school desks in South Africa, so incorporating these desks into our existing models will help us close the loop by both cleaning communities and supporting the education of children.”
The CMA has welcomed the innovation, with CMA General Manager Chris Fisher saying: ‘This ground-breaking initiative serves several interests in that not only is the waste recycled into something as beneficial as a school desk, but it goes on to reduce landfill waste and serves as a significant instrument in job creation. The true worth of this initiative is unlimited.”
Bad Luck Comes in Threes…
BY Reinette Pretorius
Friday morning 27th May, we left for Durban and I was very emotional. Don’t ask me why, but it just felt like something was going to happen that could stop me from running my 20th and last Comrades. On our way the one radio station had people phoning in about the Comrades, and Tilda Tearl’s mother phoned in to talk about her planned 30th and last run. I just wanted to cry. We arrived at the Durban Expo, registered and took photos, and then I went to see the physio to strap my ankle. I had twisted it at my son’s wedding on 24 April, so it was just a precaution. Then on Saturday we packed and I put my ChampionChip in my handbag before leaving for Pietermaritzburg, where we had booked to sleep.
Sunday morning I got up and dressed, and as I put my running shoes on, I realised that I did not bring my Chip. I had decided to leave my handbag at our friends’ home after all, and in tears, I phoned my friend Mary at ten past four and asked her to check in my handbag. She confirmed that the chip was there, and then her husband Pierre told her to stop talking, because they must leave now to drive through to bring me my chip. I went for breakfast and the two couples sitting at our table asked me if I was going to run. I said yes, and then they asked, but where is your chip? I just started crying again as I told them the story.
We left for the start and the cars were bumper to bumper. Mary phoned to say they were 22km away from Pietermaritzburg and I told her that the cars were jammed, and that athletes were getting out of the cars and busses to run to the start. I was getting very worried and kept asking my husband how far we still had to go. Eventually he dropped my friend Teressa and I, and we headed for the E block, but by the time we arrived, they had dropped the banners, so we managed to get into D block. Mary had said that she would get me on the left-hand side right where we go over the mat at the start, and I just prayed she would make it. Chariots of Fire played, the gun fired and then Teressa’s phone rang. It was Mary phoning to say she had to get out of the car and was running to the start. I didn’t think she would make it…
As we came to the starting banner, I heard Mary shout, “Reinette, hier is ek!” while waving my chip in the air. I cried again, could just barely say thank you, and she responded with “Good luck, see you at the end.” I bent down and waved my chip over the starting mat, then went to the side of the road to attach the chip to my shoe laces, and off we went. Mary then phoned Teressa again and said they would meet us at Camperdown, and when I saw them alongside the road, I got emotional again. Pierre just gave me a hug and said, “Look, I didn’t even have time to put shoes on!”
A while later we were walking next to one of the two wheelchair athletes, and the next moment, there goes my shoe – a guy running behind me had caught my heel, and he just kept saying, “I am very sorry, it was an accident.” I asked him to run and tell Teressa that I had to stop to put my shoe back on. Then going up Inchanga the runner in front of me decided to just stop dead. I only had time to turn my head and grab him around his waist, but he ripped my hands off and I fell on my knees. Another runner helped me up, but the runner that had stopped didn’t even turn around! That’s when Teressa said, “Reinette, this is the third thing today. Nothing else will go wrong now.”
Just before we went into the stadium, Mary and Pierre gave me my 20th banner, my husband was inside to take photos, and there I was on the big screen TV with my banner. Afterwards, Mary told us how they were speeding toward Pietermaritzburg when Pierre said he didn’t know his Toyota bakkie could go 150km, and that she must stop talking to him, because he must concentrate! Then she had to run 2km to the start, constantly being stopped by security guards, but she managed. I am really honoured to have friends like these.
Every person has a story to tell and Comrades Marathon runners in particular have the ultimate tales of courage, perseverance and endurance. We are calling on ardent Comrades runners to inspire the nation to take up the challenge of running the world’s most gruelling footrace, by sending us your Comrades Story in 300 words or less, and stand the chance to win a Comrades hamper. Please e-mail your story to delaine@comrades.com.