Comrades goes virtual with 'Race the Comrades legends' concept

Race the Comrades legends logo (Supplied)
Race the Comrades legends logo (Supplied)

Following on last week’s cancellation of the 2020 Comrades Marathon, the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) on Monday announced the launch of a virtual race - 'Race the Comrades legends'.

READ | Cape Town Marathon launches virtual race

The 2020 Comrades may be cancelled, but if you sign up for and complete the 'Race the Comrades legends', your finishers medal is guaranteed.

The world’s greatest ultra-marathon is all set to stage the world’s greatest virtual event with runners from around the globe invited to participate on Sunday, 14 June 2020 with entry free to all South African runners who entered the 2020 Comrades Marathon.

It may seem new age to traditional Comrades Marathon runners, but 'Race the Comrades legends' is an option for runners who for months have done training runs in isolation and no longer feel part of a close-knit running community. 

The 'Race the Comrades legends' will provide a platform to engage with other runners throughout South Africa and the rest of the world as well as opportunity for family members to participate in the action, all with the reassurance of safety and convenience, while here in South Africa doing so within the constraints of the government’s national lockdown regulations.

The CMA’s 'Race the Comrades legends' is a running concept based on the stories of the greatest Comrades legends in history.

The official Comrades Marathon website will include an online functionality where runners can virtually compete, run with and compare with each other and the likes of Bruce Fordyce, Frith van der Merwe, Samuel Tshabalala and many others; where each participant creates their own personal story and on completion is able to earn a real medal.

By creating an international virtual event with great public focus, based on a series of distances that various running legends have defined in their time, from the 5km to the marathon as well as the usual Comrades Marathon ultra, the CMA has effectively created a virtual mass-participation event for everyone to be a part of.

All that runners need to do is go to the Comrades website; register for 'Race the Comrades legends' and select their distance of 5km, 10km, 21km, 45km or 90km.

Runners will also have the option of donating to an official Comrades Amabeadibeadi Charity should they so wish.

The cost is R150 for South African runners and $25 for foreign athletes. 

Entry is free of charge to all runners who entered the 2020 Comrades Marathon, who are however strongly encouraged if it is within their means to make a voluntary donation to the official charity of their choice. Once registration is complete, runners will receive all vital race information and rules prior to the race.

Athletes will then run their race and capture their finish time using a normal timing device; upload their time manually, after which their results will be calculated and updated automatically. They will thereafter receive personalised race feedback by email with results analysis and extended results comparison.

The programme will include full integration of all popular fitness apps, including Strava and Endomondo for direct upload; as well as Garmin, Polar and Suunto.

Runners who do not have any of these devices or apps can upload a GPX, TCX or FIT file format from other devices and apps or they can manually enter their time based on any watch.

The personalised 'Race the Comrades legends' race results will then be integrated to include fun and novel finishers’ comparisons which can then be pitted against the Comrades legends, like how did you compare to Wally Hayward or Zola Budd; your race position as opposed to theirs over previous Comrades runs; and your performance percentage-wise in your age category.

Further statistical comparisons will be done according to cities, regions and provinces; as well as comparisons of overall calculated handicaps in terms of age, weight and gender.

Delving deeper, a projection of a possible Comrades time over the shorter distances will be made, for example: a person entering the 10km race can be motivated to see that they can potentially compete in a Comrades in the future. The race feedback will serve to encourage the participant to stay in the circle for the next participation and if possible, direct the participant to such.

Additional comparison results can be published online in a personal results interface supplying the participants with a variety of interesting, and engaging content.  Every entrant will receive a digital race number prior to the race, a Virtual Medal and Certificate immediately after the race, personalised results comparisons and the great thing about participating in 'Race the Comrades legends' is that all finishers will receive a real medal, which will be distributed as soon as possible after the race in terms of lockdown regulations, as opposed to the majority of virtual races which generally only award virtual medals.

All entrants will have the option of purchasing a commemorative T-shirt on entry, to denote their participation in this event.

The great thing about virtual running is that runners also get to hone their training plans, running methods, race day nutrition and hydration; all of which essentially helps you to become a better runner.

It works pretty much the same way as any other type of running but the difference is that the runner can run at any location, especially in the comfort of your own home, on a treadmill, outside in your garden, or neighbourhood, all at your own pace.

CMA chairperson, Cheryl Winn said, "We welcome all athletes to be a part of 'Race the Comrades legends'. This is one of those innovations that will add to the Comrades spirit on Sunday, 14 June on what would have been our 95th race day but has obviously had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Winn added, “As always, we expect that our athletes will take the necessary precautions and observe the relevant constraints of the national lockdown and adhere to social distancing norms, no matter which country you are in. However, this is one race in which we wish to unite South Africa and the world in one amazing virtual event.”

CMA General Manager, Keletso Totlhanyo sais, “We have every intention of making ‘Race the Comrades legends’ a memorable event where runners can participate in a virtual race and still receive a medal to remember a special accomplishment achieved within the confines of their homes, gardens and neighbourhoods.”

For more information on 'Race the Comrades legends' and how to enter, visit

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