Comrades 2017

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Comrades Marathon 2017 - All you need to know

Message from the CMW General Manager Chris Fisher

IN the last 12 months, the Comrades brand has continued on its development trajectory. We continued to consult all of our stakeholders.

We sought guidance and advice before adopting new brand elements. We referenced all new initiatives to our brand DNA which proved invaluable – and it has paid massive dividends.

Recently introduced elements have gone down extremely well. The Caduceus was moulded in gold and handed to both our 2016 Comrades champs, David Gatebe and Charne Bosman on the finish line.

This served us well as an ‘achievement moment’ and the media on the gantry absolutely soaked it up. This we then followed up with the introduction of hero cards, which our champions sign and hand out countrywide at all of our Bonitas roadshows, women’s seminars and novice seminars.

Other new elements this season included the Reveille at the start and the Last Post after the final gun. The emotional reaction to these two elements has been amazing. The correspondence from runners complimenting these introductions is heartwarming.

We felt that Comrades is a war memorial and as such, was worthy of such elements.

Our winners’ jackets also continue to draw favour and their retrospective awards continue. On the subject of winners, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate both David Gatebe and Charne Bosman on being magnificent ambassadors for the Comrades brand this year. They epitomise professionalism and are an absolute pleasure to work with. They exemplify everything that the brand stands for.

On the public relations and social media front, we have made incredible gains. Each and every communication platform we utilised produced remarkable statistics. Our super fans continue to drive our word of mouth marketing. We combined the majority of our social media initiatives with our Comrades coach, Lindsey Parry’s efforts. His professionalism has shone through. Everybody loves Lindsey.

All Comrades runners who have not seen our newly revamped, modern museum are missing out. I urge you all to visit the Comrades Museum in Pietermaritzburg. I guarantee that you will be impressed.

So once again the Comrades brand is in a very good space. It really is an honour working with this brand. It is a national asset. It remains both fresh and appealing. Here I would like to thank our sponsors, Old Mutual and Bonitas as our tier one sponsors – they are invaluable. Their marketing and communication initiatives continue to add value to the Comrades brand. For the rest of our sponsors and partners I say Zinikele – “It takes all of you”.

Finally, we look forward to 4 June. May you all achieve your goals and enjoy Comrades Day – it is truly ‘a day of anticipation’.

I end off with a quote by Winston Churchill which has relevance: “You will never achieve your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks at you along the way’’.

Chris Fisher
Chris Fisher
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THE Comrades Marathon enjoys one of the sport’s grandest expos and the tradition continues as the 2017 Comrades Expo returns to the sprawling Durban Exhibition Centre.

The Expo, ahead of the 92nd edition of the Comrades Marathon, is the largest and the longest running expo of its kind in the country.

It will be open for the three days leading up to race day on Sunday, 4 June.

The Comrades Expo offers everything the public needs to know about health and fitness and as always is entertaining, educational and informative. The number of visitors has swelled to over 50,000 over the past few years.

Spread over 10,000 square feet, the Expo is bigger and better than ever, and brings together runners, enthusiasts and local and international brands. Over 110 brands are set to showcase the newest in running apparel, shoes and accessories, fitness equipment and allied products.

The Expo serves as the official registration point for the Comrades Marathon. It offers Comrades participants an opportunity to pick up race information, goodie bags and finalise registration ahead of the ultra-marathon.

South Africa: 19,586

International: 1,408

Rest of Africa: 443

Male vs Female – Gender-wise, male entrants stand at 16,825 while there are 4,608 females.

Novice entrants in this year’s race number 6,588.

More than 2,800 Green Number runners will participate this year.

comrades med protocol

WITH mere days to go to race day, the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has issued the refreshment statistics for the 2017 Comrades Marathon.

CMA race director, Rowyn James has confirmed that 45 refreshment stations along the 86.73km route will provide the following nourishment for the runners:

Coke – 30,350 litres

Fanta / Crème Soda – 10,650 litres

Coke paper cups (175ml) – 450,000

Energade sachets (150ml) – 750,000

Energade RTD bottles (500ml) – 51,360

Water sachets – 1.875 million

Bananas – 9 tons

Oranges – 8 tons

Biscuits – 1 ton

Racefood honey nougat energy bars – 21,000

Cooked potatoes – 3 tons

medical pic

THE Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) sends best wishes to every runner ahead of the 2017 event, and assures them it has their medical needs covered, should they need back-up on race day.

(CMA) Medical Convenor, Dr Jeremy Boulter said while medical facilities will be provided by the CMA, runners can do their part to prevent themselves from needing medical attention. Boulter says: “It is important to remember that medical attention is retro-active, meaning we only respond when a runner is in trouble. It is still the responsibility of the runner to take care of his or her own health.”

The following medical facilities for runners will be provided:

On the route

Netcare 911 will provide the following on the 86.73km route:

* 14 ambulances with satellite tracking to enable CMA to accurately position the vehicles and ensure optimal response times to attend to runners in difficulty.

* 6 rapid response vehicles with advanced life support paramedics and full emergency equipment

* 6 motorbikes with medics.

* 1 helicopter on standby.

These will be controlled from the Medical Joint Operations Centre (JOC) based at the finish, where there will be eight computers, a full complement of staff to operate them and record all details; and to dispatch vehicles as and where necessary.

CALL 082 911

All calls for medical assistance for runners should be made to the Netcare 911 medical emergency number 082 911. These calls will then be routed directly to the Medical JOC.

Medical stations (first aid stations): There are 8 Netcare medical stations manned by qualified professional nurses and paramedical staff, with diabetic facilities so blood sugar levels can be tested. The medical stations will treat minor medical problems and treat or stabilise runners until the arrival of an ambulance.

Physio stations: 8 stations manned by qualified physios and 3rd year students to treat problems like cramping and strapping.

At the finish

Medical tent: Will include critical care facilities manned by 65 doctors and 20 nurses, kitted with a mini laboratory, a 3-bed, equipped ICU-type resuscitation area and specialist emergency team.

Note: The medical facility is for runners only. Relatives or friends will not be allowed access and will be directed from the info tent to the medical waiting tent. They can wait for their runner, have refreshments, receive updates and an expected time of discharge.

Finish line: A small medical facility on the finish line will be staffed by an emergency care doctor and paramedic. It is a primary emergency resuscitation area for runners who need care immediately, prior to transferring them to the medical tent.

Last mile & stadium entrance: An ALS paramedic stationed on or at the end of the Mile will respond to calls by runners in that area who are in trouble.

St John’s Ambulance tent: The tent will be located adjacent to the finish venue medical tent. Staff will treat minor medical problems, do rub downs, strapping and massages.

Physio tent at finish: A fully staffed physio tent with 40 beds at the finish venue will be sited near the wetland, north of the finish.

Public First Aid: Public first aid will be provided by Netcare at the finish. It will be found in the vicinity of the information tent.


DURBAN’S St Augustine’s Hospital and in Pmb, St Anne’s Hospital are the primary referral hospitals. Runners with medical aid will be charged at medical aid rates.

Runners without medical aid will be treated free of charge for a maximum of 24 hours. This only applies to runners transported from the route or referred from the medical facility at the finish. It does not apply to runners who make their own way there after finishing the race.

A runner with a serious medical problem that will need more than 24 hours’ hospital care, who does not have medical aid, may be transferred to a provincial hospital after 24 hours.

Strap – Residents in the finish venue precinct should especially take heed of route changes as certain roads in the last 7km will be most affected by the closure

THE Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has announced new road closures for this year’s Comrades weekend, in lieu of the change of finish venue.

As it’s an up-run, the race starts at 5.30am outside Durban City Hall and finishes 12 hours later at the Home of the Golden Horse Casino, the Scottsville Racecourse.

CMA Race Director, Rowyn James has confirmed the following road closures for Comrades weekend, 3 and 4 June. James has asked that residents in the finish venue precinct take heed of the route changes as certain roads in the last 7km of the route will be most affected by the closure.

He said: “Road closures will take effect from the top of Polly Shortts to CB Downes Road (R103) direction Pietermaritzburg, as well as Gladys Manzi Road (previously Murray Road) and Cleland Road. Blackburrow Road, Fairfield Avenue, Ridge Road, New England Road, Harwin Road and Taylor Street will also be affected.”

James apologised for any inconvenience to the affected residents, saying: “The Comrades team has already dropped off notices at homes and businesses along the affected route. We greatly value the co-operation of all residents. We look forward to hosting the 92nd Comrades Marathon finish at the new venue and anticipate a phenomenal day for all of our stakeholders, and especially the citizens of Pietermaritzburg.”

Saturday, 3 June 2017
Durban – Dr Pixley Ka Seme Str. (West Str.)
between Dorothy Nyembe Str. (Gardiner Str.) & 17h00 07h00
Samora Machel Str. (Aliwal Str.)
Durban – Samora Machel Str. (Aliwal Str.) 00h00 07h00
between Monty Naicker Str. (Pine Str.) &
Anton Lembede Str. (Smith Str.)
Sunday, 4 June 2017
Sherwood – 45th Cutting 04h00 07h30
Cowies Hill 04h30 08h30
Pinetown & Fields Hill 04h45 09h15
Kloof 05h00 10h00
Hillcrest 05h30 11h00
Botha’s Hill 05h40 11h30
Drummond 06h00 12h30
Cato Ridge 07h00 14h30
Camperdown 07h30 15h00
Umlaas Road 07h45 16h00
Lion Park 08h00 16h30
Ashburton 09h00 17h30
Polly Shortts 09h00 18h00
Pietermaritzburg – CB Downes Road, Gladys Manzi Road (Murray Road), Cleland Road, Blackburrow Road, Fairfield Ave, Ridge Road, Harwin Road, Taylor Road 09h00 18h30
Sikhumbuzo Khuzwayo
Sikhumbuzo Khuzwayo

When Sikhumbuzo Khuzwayo runs on Comrades day, every Penzance school child watching the race on TV, or along the side of the road, will be looking out for him.

He is a figure who looms larger than life in the minds of the children he works with every day at the school. Every little girl and boy who sees his diligence and training – he often runs in the mornings to the school and can be seen training in the afternoons too – can imagine themselves someday being able to run in “big races” like the Comrades just because they see how the humble and soft spoken man does it.

Khuzwayo is the man who makes sure the youngsters crossing the road to get through the school gates on Penzance Road each day, cross safely. One of his duties at the Umbilo school is as the “lollipop man” so beloved by the school children who wait until he steps up to stop the traffic so they can pass. He has been at the school since 2011, following in the footsteps of his father, who also worked at the school for a long time.

His love of running has made him an inspiration to all his young charges at the school. As principal Hennie Havemann puts it: “Penzance encourages all healthy physical activity and we also love to support our staff.” The school has supported Khuzwayo both practically with running shoes and help to transport him where needed, as well as in spirit. “The school has helped me, and the teachers have helped me so much,” said Khuzwayo. He says he feels like the school has become part of his family.

The long journey from starting to run to running ultra-marathons has been one Khuzwayo says has taken him on an internal journey too.

“Running isn’t easy,” he says. “You start to question yourself and all through the race you are asking yourself why you even began.” When Khuzwayo first approached an athletics club and told them he was interested in running the Comrades, he was shocked at their initial response. Expecting to be welcomed with open arms, instead he was rebuffed. “They said no!” he explained with a laugh, thinking back. “I understand now that they didn’t want me to run a big race like Comrades until I was ready.” It would be two years of running in shorter races and building up his training before he first tried Comrades in 2016. Despite all the racing he has done and the hours of training, Khuzwayo says each race makes him nervous and excited.

This year’s Comrades is no different: “Even though I’ve done it before, I still feel nervous like it’s my first Comrades.”

Look out for the heart of Penzance, Sikhumbuzo Khuzwayo, running in the colours of Stella Club Athletic Club on race day.

Richard Jenkins
Richard Jenkins

Running to define yourself

Richard Jenkin’s journey to the Comrades started with him sitting on the couch watching rugby and noticing his middle-age-spread.

Before that moment he had never been one to take too much notice of healthy eating or serious exercise for himself, despite his partner Katherine having started up a company aimed at people wanting to get fitter and healthier. “I was very proud of all she had achieved but it didn’t really hit me that I needed to work on myself until that moment when I looked down at my tummy and wondered, where did that come from?” he said.

Immediately, Richard hit the pavements and developed shin splints from running wearing the wrong shoes. “Katherine rolled her eyes when I said I was going running, she was probably thinking, here we go, another thing he will give up soon,” said Richard with a giggle.

However “the running thing” wasn’t to be a fad for this father of two.  Richard went out and bought a new pair of running shoes especially for running. “I think she got a shock but realised after spending R1000 on shoes I was taking this quite seriously. I don’t do things in half measures when I start taking them seriously,” he said.  Soon Katherine and Richard were both running Park Runs and he was enthusiastically part of her healthy living enterprise, “Define Yourself” which advocates healthy eating and exercise as a way for people to lose weight and feel better about themselves.
A year ago Richard, who by then had started describing himself as “addicted to exercise,” embarked on his first race. The first race led to others and soon he found the road becoming a natural environment for him, the place where he deals with his daily frustrations, takes on his personal limitations and overcomes his fears. “Running has become a personal growth experience for me,” he said with a broad grin. “I have become a bit of an evangelist for physical activity!”

Today he is fitter, healthier and while he and his wife are not trying to win medals in the racing they do, they have built up muscle and confidence, and are setting an example for all four their children, who are growing up seeing exercise as fun and healthy rather than a chore and effort. “That is what makes everything so worthwhile,” said Richard, “it’s about living your best life.  I am looking forward to Comrades this year, not only for the challenge but for the companionship that road running seems to have at its roots. It’s unlike any other sport I have experienced.”

Chat to Richard via his facebook page about his race and his journey.

Dudley St John-Ward
Dudley St John-Ward

RIP, Dudley St John-Ward

2017 Comrades’ finish procedures will have an extra set of eyes cast over it from the spirit of the late Dudley St John-Ward, who finished his own race of life this year at the age of 70.

Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) was saddened by the loss of its finish procedure convenor, who died in April at the age of 70.

Described as funny, friendly and always smiling, Dudley boasted an admirable period of volunteerism at the Comrades Marathon spanning nearly three decades.

A genuine people’s person who was positive, humble and approachable, he nurtured a great love of the race he ran 11 times consecutively from 1980 to 1990, in the process obtaining a Comrades best time of 8:23 in 1984. A proud member of the Comrades Marathon Green Number Club, he went on to receive his Comrades Green Name award in lieu of his exemplary voluntary service to the association.

“He was a popular, beloved and invaluable member of Team Comrades whose role as finish procedure convenor was integral to the smooth running on race day and the success of the marathon.

During the 17 years that Dudley was in charge of the finish procedure, hundreds of thousands of runners passed through the well-oiled machine of the Comrades finish chutes,” said CMA chairman, Sifiso Nzuza.

Nzuza said Dudley’s volunteerism was a source of great inspiration. “He will be missed and fondly remembered by all members of Team Comrades on 4 June when the best tribute we can pay to him is to carry on in the proud tradition of selfless and voluntary service to others, which he exemplified. He inspired many people to give of their best. Rest in peace Dudley. Our sincere condolences go to his wife Anne and family.”

Former CMA chairman, Peter Proctor said Dudley assisted on the Comrades Marathon’s finish procedure portfolio for many years until becoming portfolio holder in 2000.

“Dudley was a friend to all. He was a jovial and lovable character and always showed a kind heart and willingness to help,” said Peter. “His years of service to the Comrades Marathon was a glittering example where he carried out his duties without complaint or falter.”

Chris Fisher, CMA general manager conveyed the association’s deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and friends on his passing. “It was an honour to have been a part of his life. We were truly blessed to have known and to have worked alongside such a wonderful person for so many years.”

He added that there will be a special significance for all CMA members of the playing of the Last Post on the Comrades finish line at 5.30pm at this year’s race.

comrades museum

NOT many people know that the Comrades Marathon is in actual fact a war memorial.
The Ultimate Human Race is rooted in the aftermath of World War 1, or the Great War as it was known back in 1921. When the smoke cleared from a battle-weary world at the end of 1918, the dead numbered almost 10-million. In that war of only four years, far more people died than in all the wars 100 years previously.
On returning home to SA from the war, Vic Clapham – a soldier and a dreamer – felt that something greater than a mere memorial should be done to honour those soldiers who had lost their lives. The pain, agony, death and hardships of his comrades, which he witnessed during those awful days, left a lasting impression on the battle-hardened soldier, especially the camaraderie between the men in overcoming these adversities.
Vic wanted to repute his fallen comrades with a living, breathing memorial; a commemorative display of camaraderie, of shouldering the burden together as the brothers-in-arms did during the war. He approached the League of Comrades of the Great War with a vision that would result in the world’s greatest ultramarathon. The Comrades Marathon is still going strong 96 years later.
Comrades Marathon House is home to our history
The Comrades Marathon Museum proudly houses the illustration of the rich history of The Ultimate Human Race. Based at Comrades Marathon House in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa – the headquarters of the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) – the museum offers an inspiring trip down memory lane.
Having first opened to the public 28 years ago, the newly revamped and refurbished museum saw its official re-opening in September 2016. “Comrades Marathon House was built in the early 1900’s,” said Chris Fisher, CMA general manager. “The exact date is lost to us due to a fire in the Municipal Archives that occurred in the 1930s.”
Fisher added: “The building was purchased by the Comrades Marathon Association in 1985, with the museum being originally opened to the public on Wednesday, 16 March 1988. This was later declared a heritage site in the late 1990s.”
Ten months of restoration on the building, combined with meticulous research and months of installation has resulted in a modern museum environment that still holds true to the essence of the Comrades Marathon.

underprivileged runners

TO ensure that the Ultimate Human Race is an inclusive event, major sponsor Old Mutual will be sponsoring the Old Mutual Comrades Underprivileged Runners Project over the Comrades weekend.
The project has been part of the world’s greatest footrace for the past 16 years. Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) general manager, Chris Fisher said: “This has been a project close to the heart of the CMA. Through this initiative, we have been able to accommodate runners across the socio-economic spectrum and afford them an opportunity to experience the race. It gives them an opportunity to dream.”
Fisher continued: “Through the Underprivileged Runners Project, Old Mutual demonstrates its spirit of humanity by providing support to hundreds of less fortunate runners wishing to participate in the 2017 Comrades Marathon.”
Up to 800 runners will be provided with accommodation, a comfortable mattress and blankets for a good night’s rest, ablution facilities as well substantial meals on the evenings prior to and after the race.
Transportation will be provided for runners collecting their race packs at Durban Exhibition Centre on Saturday, 3 June to the venue in Pietermaritzburg where they will be accommodated and served a hearty dinner.
On race day, runners will be provided with breakfast before being transported to the start in Durban and back to the accommodation facility after the race. After the event, the CMA will donate the blankets and mattresses to various charity organisations in Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas.
“Running events like the Comrades Marathon showcase South Africa at its best,” said Karen Thomas, Old Mutual head of brand.
“Many runners dream of competing in the Comrades Marathon, but for a variety of reasons can’t always get to the start line. By sponsoring the Comrades Underprivileged Runners Project, Old Mutual is ensuring those runners who might not be able to afford the weekend in KZN now have the chance to be a part of this special day on the SA running calendar.”
There is no charge to the runners for this facility; however for planning and logistic purposes, runners who benefit from this programme are asked to apply early in the year. Due to space limitations, only underprivileged runners will be accommodated.

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