Two runners who took part in Sunday’s Comrades Marathon have died, the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has confirmed.
In a statement released on Tuesday, CMA doctor Jeremy Boulter confirmed that Phakamile Ntshiza and Mzameleni Mthembu had experience distress at different points along the route and passed away.
According to the statement from the race office, the details are still unknown, but Ntshiza reportedly passed away while running close to the halfway mark, before he could be transported to hospital.
Mthembu suffered a heart attack while running along the Pinetown stretch of the route. He was taken to the Westville Hospital, where he later passed away.
CMA chairperson Mqondisi Ngcobo said:
Sunday’s race marked the return of the Comrades after a two-year break induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
From the runners’ limited training time to the staging of the race away from its traditional June date to now, in August, it was no surprise that, of the 13 200 runners who started the race, 11 700 finished it.
Still, the 89km down run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban had a dramatic ending
The men’s winner, Tete Dijana, outfoxed defending champion and team-mate, Edward Mothibi, with a few kilometres to the finish.
Dijana won in five hours, 30 minutes and 35 seconds to claim the R26 000 first prize purse.
The women’s race was won by Alexandra Morozova in 6:17:48.
The Russian was initially told she could not compete, after the CMA acted on a suggestion from World Athletics to ban her from the race in line with protocol relating to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, a court ruled in her favour to line up in the race, en route to her maiden Comrades title after several futile attempts.