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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Mothibi and Ashworth react to Comrades cancellation

Although disappointed, former Comrades Marathon champions say they understand why the 2021 edition of the iconic ultra marathon had to be cancelled. Yesterday the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) released a statement confirming that The Ultimate Human Race had been called off because of Covid-19. The race which was scheduled for 13 June, would have celebrated one hundred years since 34 brave souls first attempted to run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in 1921.

This is the second big South African ultra Marathon to be cancelled in the space of a week after organisers of the Two Oceans Marathon did the same last Thursday. The news came as a big blow to athletes, many of whom are already battling financially as their main source of income (prize money) evaporates in the wake of the continued cancellations of mass participation running events. 2019 Comrades winner Edward Mothibi was devastated when he heard the news that race has now been canceled two years in a row.

"I didn't hear the news that the Comrades Marathon has been cancelled. It's the first I hear of this since I'm at work at the moment," said Mothibi, who works as a clerk at Impala mine. "Yhoo, I'm disappointed. I just had a hope that I'm going to run this year and sometimes you can wish this CoronaVirus can go away so we can get back to our normal life." The 36-year-old Nedbank Running Club athlete respects the decision taken by the CMA as Athletics South Africa (ASA) is yet to give the green light for clubs to host races longer than 10km which makes it almost impossible for athletes to qualify for Comrades.

Mothibi holds his hands aloft after winning the 2019 Comrades Marathon. Photo Credit: Nedbank Running Club.

"Comrades was the main focus this year then after I would have a plan for other races," he shared. "I had already started to train for it, not the mileage though just light training. But I think organisers decided to cancel the race because even ASA is yet to give the green light on marathon races as only 10k are permitted. I think athletes must keep training to be mental prepared for anything. So as soon as things get back into normal life they can be able to compete," the champion advised.

2018 Comrades winner Ann Ashworth, feels the news was to be expected even though it still leaves the SA running community wounded. Ashworth, who recently joined Boxer Athletics believes that an invitational elite only race would be going against what the race stands for as its known as "human race."

Ashworth winning the 2018 Comrades Marathon. Photo Credit: CMA.

"Even though I'm not surprised seeing the race being cancelled, it's still disappointing " explains Ashworth. "Comrades marathon doesn't belong to an elite group of runners but the whole running community. And to hold an invitational elite race was not going to be fair to the running community. This is a race for the people. And I don't know how people were going to qualify for it since there are no marathons taking place. I believe this is a good decision," said Ashworth.

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