DURBAN: The Comrades Marathon, the world's largest and oldest ultramarathon race, has been cancelled, in what was to be its centenary year.
The Comrades Marathon is an ultramarathon of approximately 89 kilometres, which is run annually in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) board, while announcing its decision to cancel the iconic race, scheduled for 13 June, stated: "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.
"This decision comes in the wake of engagements with KwaZulu-Natal Athletics, Athletics South Africa, the National Coronavirus Command Council, members of the medical fraternity and governmental departments; and was both a moral and practical imperative given the ongoing uncertainty and unprecedented circumstances of the Coronavirus pandemic, 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."
CMA chairperson Cheryl Winn said: "Winn says, “Amidst intense and ongoing uncertainty with the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on mass gatherings and events, our runners’ interests remain uppermost in our minds and endeavours. We urge Comrades runners to take care and continue to maintain their fitness levels to enable a smooth transition once the normal staging of distance running resumes, while we at the CMA pledge to enable runners to stay connected, engaged, safe, informed and abreast of developments in this regard.”
Winn adds, “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.”