Celebrating the true spirit of Comrades

2016-10-19 06:00
PHOTO:supplied  Amit Sheth (left) the first winner of the 2016 Spirit of Comrades with Old Mutual head of brand, Karen Thomas.

PHOTO:supplied Amit Sheth (left) the first winner of the 2016 Spirit of Comrades with Old Mutual head of brand, Karen Thomas.

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CELEBRATING the camaraderie behind the Comrades Marathon, the Spirit of Comrades Awards took place this weekend honouring those who exhibited selflessness during the 2016 down-run.

At a grand affair at the Elangeni Hotel in Durban, three men were honoured for their commitment to Comrades. The first recipient, Amit Sheth, is the first Indian national to have competed in the Comrades Marathon in 2009 and was, in the same year, appointed as Comrades International Brand Ambassador. Sheth has since written a book about Comrades and travels across India and Asia promoting the race. From his book earnings, which has been the best seller in India, Sheth has donated over R2.5 million to the Tate Memorial Hospital for cancer treatment for the underprivileged children.

Rupin Mehta, the second recipient, was awarded for sacrificing his own race to help two other runners who were in distress which prevented him from finishing his fifth consecutive race. Mehta, who received numerous nominations for the award, first assisted Johan Kotze who was struggling with his race in Sherwood. Mehta assisted with a bit of motivation and a quick massage and Kotze went on to finish his race. The second person Mehta helped was Samantha Douglas who battled major cramps right at the end of the race with the finish line almost in sight. He tried his best to get the athlete up and running again however both Mehta and Douglas missed finished the race by a mere 21 seconds.

Finally, Shoyab Wadee, a doctor from Johannesburg also sacrificed his race to help a fellow runner at Botha’s Hill who was had collapsed and was lying on the side of the road. Instinct kicked in and Wadee rushed to the man’s aid to render emergency medical intervention to the man whose blood pressure and heart rate was rapidly decreasing. Wade managed to stabilise the man however with the time that he had lost assisting him, Wadee bowed out of the race because he knew he would not finish his third Comrades marathon.

This year’s winners, David Gatebe and Charne Bosman were also present at the event and received their Comrades Marathon winner’s blazers.

During his speech, Gatebe, a former petrol attendant, said that winning the marathon changed his life.

“Comrades changed my life. I now have money for my child’s education and to buy a house. I am so happy,” he said.

Bosman, who won the race in the final few kilometres, said that she had waiting for a long time to win the race.

“I waited for many years to win, it took such a long time. It’s so special. Everyone that finishes the race is a winner because it is such a challenge to complete,” she said.

There were also various other awards that were given including, certificates of appreciation, journalist of the year, life membership, exemplary service and top fundraiser.

“We are delighted to honour these outstanding individuals. It’s incredibly motivating and we applaud them all,” said outgoing chairman of the Comrades Marathon Association, Macdonald Chitja.

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