Comrades programme benefiting underprivileged athletes

2015-05-30 21:30
(Lloyd Burnard, News24)

(Lloyd Burnard, News24)

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Durban - On Sunday morning 800 underprivileged athletes will wake up before 02:30 to make the trip from Pietermaritzburg to Durban for this year’s Comrades Marathon.

It doesn’t sound like the most ideal start to the race, but it is far better than the alternative for these men and women, who cannot afford their own accommodation and transport.

They are the athletes who are benefiting from Comrades’ Underprivileged Runners Programme, which houses and feeds 800 runners each year at the YMCA in PMB and has done so for over a decade.

“We realised that many runners did not have accommodation and transport to the start of the race,” Comrades spokesperson Delaine Cools said.

“Previously they were sleeping under park benches, under trees, on the sides of the road and outside City Hall and there were literally hundreds of them.”

Cools says that the programme was designed to make the race “more accessible and inclusive to all of South Africa.”

The athletes will all be given a supper on Saturday night, an early breakfast on Sunday morning as well as supper after the race on Sunday. But, more importantly, they can take comfort in the knowledge that they will have a warm bed after competing in one of sport’s most physically demanding events.

The 800 runners will only have to be out of the YMCA on Tuesday.

“We have people here from all over the country, and this year we even have a few from beyond our borders,” Thami Vilakazi, who runs the programme, said.

The 90th edition of the Comrades Marathon starts in Durban at 05:30 on Sunday.

Read more on:    durban

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