Eight days left to enter Comrades Marathon

2009-03-24 00:00

RUNNERS have just eight days left to enter if they wish to participate in the 2009 Comrades Marathon. Organisers have issued an urgent reminder that the closing date for entries is Tuesday, March 31.

Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) general manager Gary Boshoff has warned that prospective entrants must not confuse the closing date for entries with the final date for qualifying — which is April 28.

“The Comrades Marathon is being staged three weeks earlier than usual this year to avoid clashing with the Fifa Confederations Cup. Consequently, the closing date for entries was also brought forward ahead of traditionally popular qualifying races, to which end a special dispensation was implemented,” Boshoff said.

“Prospective entrants must submit their entries by March 31, but may still qualify after submitting their entry up until the final cut-off for qualifying, which is April 28. We wish to emphasise however that we will not be accepting new entries after March 31,” said Boshoff.

To date, just over 3 000 entries have been processed and the organisers are bracing themselves for the usual last-minute deluge.

Runners traditionally leave it until the very last minute to submit their entries, an interesting phenomenon given the fact that the majority train throughout the year with participation in Comrades as their primary objective. This leaves the organisers playing a waiting game for the final numbers upon which to base the extensive logistical arrangements required for the staging of such a mammoth event.

To date, entries have been received from 42 countries, with the biggest foreign contingents being the United Kingdom (72), the United States (38) and Australia (34). Foreign entries currently comprise 14% of the total number of entries processed, hopefully an indication that the final number of foreign runners will not be adversely affected by the global economic slowdown.

Entries have also been received from every province in South Africa, the largest number from central Gauteng, followed by KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng north.

Big names include former winners Alan Robb, who will be running his 36th consecutive Comrades, and Bruce Fordyce, who will be running for the 27th time. The oldest entrant to date is 74-year-old Caspar Greeff who has completed 35 Comrades Marathons.

Race director Renee Jordaan noted that none of the current crop of top competitors have entered to date.

“Former winners Andrew Kelehe, Fusi Nhlapo, Sipho Ngomane and Vladimir Kotov have not entered. Nor have gold medallists Willie Mtolo, Mncendise Mkize, Stephen Muzhingi, Harmans Mokgadi Johan Oosthuizen, Farwa Mentoor and Grace de Oliviera.

“We can only hope they are all engaged in intensive training and will join thousands of others in the last minute rush to enter,” Jordaan said.

Runners may enter online at www.comrades.com, at any Mr Price store, by post, or hand delivery to the Comrades Marathon office. CMA representatives will also accept hand delivered entries at Kingsmead Stadium on the closing day only.

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