The Comrades Marathon has been placed in doubt for the first time in more than 70 years, with Athletics South Africa (ASA) revealing this year’s race has been indefinitely postponed.
The national federation confirmed on Friday it had extended its suspension of the 2020 domestic athletics season until April 30, in line with the countrywide coronavirus lockdown.
It also announced that the annual ultra-marathon in KwaZulu-Natal, which was scheduled to be held for the 95th time on June 14, had been placed on hold.
“The Comrades Marathon is postponed from June 14 to a suitable date that will be determined between ASA, KZN Athletics and the Comrades Marathon Association as soon as conditions around the management of the virus allow us to, under the guidance of the government,” said ASA president Aleck Skhosana.
In a message to members, Comrades Marathon chairperson Cheryl Winn admitted their hands were largely tied, with government leading the decision making process.
Organisers nonetheless hoped the race would be held this year.
Should it be cancelled, it would be the first time the race had been called off since it was suspended between 1941 and 1945 due to World War II.
“The CMA board is of the view that the race cannot be staged later than October 4 owing to climatic conditions, failing which the 2020 Comrades Marathon will have to be cancelled,” Winn wrote.
It would be a challenge, Winn admitted, to find an alternate date in a congested fixtures list once the lockdown was lifted.
“We are engaging closely with ASA, and through ASA we will take guidance and direction from our government as to the fate of Comrades 2020.”