Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 142, June 2021 Issue 142, June 2021 | Page 29

The former winners and multiple Greens get ready for the Centenary Run
Images : Peter De Groot Photography & courtesy Comrades Marathon Association
the end , being covered from head to toe in dust . ( These conditions were to continue until 1931 , when the entire route was finally tarred .) Also , the runners had to contend with roads that seemed to traverse every hill in the vicinity , as the engineers of the day appeared intent on building every feature of the landscape into their creation !
There were no refreshment stations for the runners , as found in the modern race . The runners had to stop at hotels or taverns along the way to get refreshments , or scrounge a drink from people they met along the road . They also had to organise their own attendants with transportation , whose job it was to attend to the needs of their charges . Many an exhausted attendant would swear never to do it again after begging , cajoling and threatening a runner to keep going .
What that first race lacked in official finishers – several were disqualified for accepting lifts along the way – it made up for in spirit . Reason enough for 114 brave souls to enter the following year , this time with 89 actually starting and 26 finishing . In the 100 years that followed , the race has become an integral part of many South Africans ’ lives , and the popularity of the world ’ s greatest ultra-marathon has also brought runners from all round the world to KwaZulu-Natal . Those 34 trailblazers of 1921 paved the way for the hundreds of thousands who followed .
In the 100 years since the that first Comrades Marathon , only two things have prevented the race from going ahead . The first was the Second World War ( 1939 to 1945 ), which saw the race cancelled from 1941 to 1945 , and the second was the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic , which has seen both the 2020 and 2021 races cancelled and replaced by virtual runs . As a result , the Comrades Marathon Association ( CMA ) was unable to use the 2021 race as the centenary celebration of the Comrades , and thus was born the idea to organise a special gala function and commemorative run , all with strict COVID protocols in place .
Arthur Newton , whose traditional Comrades outfit inspired the Centenary Run clothing
This saw some 200 guests head to Comrades Marathon House in Scottsville , Pietermaritzburg on 24 May , including the Mayors of both Msunduzi and eThekwini Municipalities , newly elected ASA President James Moloi and other dignitaries , CMA elders , former Chairpersons , current CMA Board and staff members , Race Organising Committee members , current sponsors , representatives of the Official Comrades Charities and select media .
Also in attendance were 22 former Comrades winners , including nine-time winner Bruce Fordyce and current men ’ s champion Edward Mothibi . It is worth noting that this was the largest gathering of Comrades winners since the 1983 reunion that brought 25 winners
In need of a drip after 2km … Bruce Fordyce was full of jokes , as usual