Ann Ashworth gets the boot


It should have been a triumphant celebration of a job well done – but instead, Comrades Marathon Race & Operations Manager Ann Ashworth has left the organisation, alleging that a smear campaign was mounted against her. We chat to Ann, and get her story about what happened “behind closed doors.” Watch the full video below.

In a social media post, she wrote: “My time at the CMA has come to an end. The Board feels that I lack the necessary leadership and race management abilities to continue to serve as the Race & Operations Manager.” In the comments on the post, responding to a question about what went on behind closed doors, she added “… my job was promised to someone else months ago. That person will resume the position after actively sabotaging me in the office and in the media.”

The Comrades Association later issued a statement confirming that Ann would no longer be in the position: “The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) regrets to announce the departure of Ann Ashworth from her role as the Comrades Marathon Race & Operations Manager with immediate effect. We wish to thank her for her contribution to a highly successful race.”

The CMA also addressed what’s come to be known as “Vanillagate” (after a board member put out a public call for more people to register as members of the association so it was no longer “all vanilla”. In its statement, association chairperson Mqondisi Ngcobo was quoted as saying that the “so-called ‘Vanillagate’ saga has no bearing on (Ann’s) departure”.

Elsewhere in the statement the CMA quoted its Constitution, stating that the board is not able to remove a member. But legendary coach Norrie Williamson, in a social media post, contradicted this, saying the constitution allows any board member to be suspended and given a hearing to answer to charges, including those of bringing the CMA into disrepute or acting against its interests.

This is the latest in a series of pressure points for the Comrades. Last year’s cut-off debacle angered many. But, by all accounts from runners and the community at large, Ann did a good job and ushered in a lot of positive changes this year. Was it perfect? No – but no race is.

So where to from here? Our advice is to get as many runners as possible to join the CMA. This is the only possible way to have a say in the future of the race, including the selection of board members.

CMA Membership is open to individuals 18 years and older who are either active runners, active volunteers, or retired/longstanding runners/volunteers, who subscribe to the objectives of CMA and wish to participate in its activities in compliance with the CMA Constitution, vision and values.

To be eligible to vote at the 2024 AGM your membership application and membership fee of R100 must be received by no later than 30 June 2024.