South Africa’s Comrades Marathon cancelled for 2020

South African long-distance runner Gerda Steyn win the women's race in the 94th edition of the Comrades Marathon between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in 5:58:53 in Pietermaritzburg on June 9, 2019. - The annual ultramarathon spans 86 kilometers, attracting this year over 20,000 runners from around the world. (Photo by Rajesh JANTILAL / AFP)

The 2020 Comrades Marathon has been cancelled due to the national lockdown in South Africa caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ultimate human race was canceled after talks were held between the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) Board, KwaZulu Natal Athletics (KZNA) and Athletics South Africa (ASA).

The Organisers say canceling the marathon was not an easy decision given the history and what it means to South Africa as a nation.

“Cancelling what would have been the 95th edition of the Comrades Marathon was a long and arduous decision to make,” said ASA president Aleck Skhosana.

“With the race’s rich history, its powerful nation-building attributes and contribution towards social cohesion, as well as its immense economic impact, it would have been premature to rush into an outright cancellation sooner. However, we believe we have jointly arrived at the correct decision to protect the health and safety of all concerned as well as the lives of our fellow South Africans.”

The organisers had hoped to postpone the marathon for a later date but that will not be possible any more.

“It is with profound sadness and regret that the CMA Board, in conjunction with ASA and KZNA, had to make this decision,” CMA Chairperson Cheryl Winn said.

“We do so with the knowledge that it will come as a great disappointment to thousands of Comrades runners, who together with us at CMA, have been holding out hope that the race would somehow proceed.

“We had hoped to postpone The Ultimate Human Race to a date not later than the end of September (owing to climatic conditions), but alas with the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of abating and anticipated to peak in the coming months, there is no telling what is yet to come.

As CMA, it is incumbent upon us to prioritise the health, safety and well-being of our athletes, volunteers and stakeholders and therefore lamentably we will not be staging this year’s edition of the country’s leading road running event.”

The CMA chairperson said the organisation will deal with the foreign and South African entries received for the 2020 Comrades Marathon.

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