Comrades: Double down-run, special medal in 2010

2008-11-19 00:00

With an eye firmly placed on the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup, the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) yesterday announced the prestigious ultra-marathon’s programme for the next two years.

The race date has been brought forward for both editions, with the 2009 run on the May 24 and the 2010 “special edition” being staged on the May 30.

In another break from tradition, the next two races will both be “down-runs”; from Pietermaritzburg to Durban’s Sahara Kingsmead.

This was decided after it was anticipated that the 2010 race will attract many more runners than usual. With the logistical constraints experienced during this year’s finish at the Oval, the organisers deemed it necessary to keep the finish in Durban for the bonanza race of World Cup year.

“With the number of athletes expected, and spectators too, it made more sense to keep the race in Durban,” said Gary Boshoff, the CMA’s general manager.

A maximum of 20 000 runners has been set for 2010, with the first 15 000 entries reserved for returning runners.

The 2010 edition will also see special medals to commemorate the year which sees Africa host it first FIFA World Cup.

Newly elected CMA president Dave Dixon said the restructuring process was one they felt had been a success. He also disclosed a host of plans to make the next two races “ultra-special”.

“We have embarked on a new initiative which is designed to get runners to embrace the culture of the ultimate race,” he explained.

The theme for next year’s race, dubbed “This is My Story”, features a series of iconic posters encapsulating the spirit of the world’s biggest ultra-marathon through several athletes’ own moments during the race.

One of those featured in the posters is Deon van der Walt, who describes himself as “just another runner who did it once and then got addicted”.

Van der Walt said he was challenged to do the race by his sister, and has since gone on to run four marathons.

“I am not what you would call an athlete, but the Comrades for me is about the happiness of reaching the finish line and having a sense of achievement.”

His story is in keeping with the CMA’s vision to attract more novice runners, which has seen numerous programmes launched to get people on the road.

Boshoff said this year’s National Youth Run on 23 May had been a big success, with over 3 500 youngsters exposed to the “Comrades culture”. Boshoff said it was hoped that this initial contact would see the youngsters return in later years to compete in the race proper.

Another added incentive for novice runners next year is the guaranteed entry for the special 2010 race for those who finish within the cut-off time.

Race manager Renee Jordaan said this is to take the pressure off novices trying to qualify for the 2010 race.

In terms of the qualification process for next year, entries close on 31 March, but athletes can still use the Two Oceans and Loskop marathons for qualifying times.

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