New race director for Comrades Marathon

2014-02-25 00:00

THERE is a new face at the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) as Cape Town-based Rowyn James was yesterday unveiled as the new race director for the world’s largest ultra-marathon.

James replaces the outgoing and popular Johan van Staden, who served the post for four years before announcing his resignation in December.

The race director’s responsibilities include the organisation of operations and logistics in the build-up to and on race day, which is set for June 1 this year. James will take over on March 12.

A race director of the Two Oceans Marathon for six years, James says that working on the race that he considers amongst the best in the world has always been a dream of his.

“I am honoured and privileged and thank the CMA board for the faith and trust they have placed in me; thereby enabling me to achieve my lifelong dream of being a part of the iconic CMA,” James said in yesterday’s statement.

“The key for me will be to maintain and enhance the wealth of knowledge and experience of my fellow team players — which already exists — and work with them in enhancing new innovations and strategies which will continue to propel the Comrades Marathon forward.”

When asked what the major challenges facing the race — which is in its 89th edition this year — were, James said that he would not be looking to implement any immediate and drastic changes.

“We are less than 100 days from race day, so for the moment it is a case of ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’,” the Centurion-born James told The Witness yesterday. “Moving forward we will then look at ways of improving the race in consultation with the board.”

James is set to relocate from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg, and he said that he doesn’t feel any added pressure due to the fact that he is not a KZN boy.

“I am actually very fortunate. I know a lot of the board members already from my time as sports marketing manager of Nike South Africa when Nike was sponsoring the race,” he said.

“So I feel like I’m already at the 60 m mark of a 100 m race.”

James may not be from the province, but he has already run an impressive 15 Comrades Marathons himself.

“I am blessed enough to have finished 15 journeys of my own, so I can attest to the spirit of camaraderie that exists in the months leading up to race day and indeed on race day itself,” he said.

CMA chairperson Mac Chitja said: “The board is relieved that the [race director] position has been filled. Rowyn has all the qualities to be a very successful race director and we wish him well.”

Van Staden has since signed on as race director of Pietermaritzburg’s Mandela Marathon, while he also cited ‘personal business interests’ as the reason for his resignation. “I just needed a new challenge in my life,” he said.

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