Thousands of runners brave the cold for Comrades virtual run

The Down run is for the masochists among us. (Photo by Howard Cleland/Gallo Images)

The ‘Race the Comrades Legends’ event will see nearly 30,000 participants from around the world take place in the annual run. 

Thousands of athletes from all over South Africa and beyond hit the tarmac early on Sunday morning  to participate in the inaugural Comrades Race the Legends virtual run.

The Covid-19 pandemic saw the Comrades Marathon Association opt for an epic virtual race on Sunday. 

The ‘Race the Comrades Legends’ event will see nearly 30,000 participants from around the world take place in the annual run. 

Some of the oldest surviving Comrades champions will be taking part, including 1965 winner Bernard Gomersall, now 87, who will participate in a 5km event in the US. 

Nine-time Comrades champion Bruce Fordyce is running the 10km race, and 1982 women’s winner and Comrades Association chairperson, Cheryl Winn, will be partaking in the 5km event. 

Other legends to participate in the race include four-time winner Alan Robb, 1991 winner Nick Bester, 2005 winner Sipho Ngomane, Shaun Meiklejohn, and last years winners, Edward Mothibi and Gerda Steyn. 

The Zululand Observer caught up with some local athletes preparing to start their run, to get their emotions about this event after the cancellation of what would have been the 95th Comrades Marathon.

“The cancellation of the world’s most gruelling ultra-marathon came as no surprise owing to these uncertain times, but today’s event has opened the door for families and shorter distance runners to be a part of history,” said an excited Richards Bay runner.

The Comrades Association organised the virtual race, which has since garnered attention from 86 countries, in what organisers said would be “the world’s most inclusive virtual event”.

The virtual run also seeks to create a sense of camaraderie among athletes, who have not been able to uphold their usual, strenuous exercise routines. 

All funds raised for the 2020 Comrades Marathon will go to charities assisting in Covid-19 relief efforts. 

For those who have not yet decided to enter, you have until 1pm to register.

Simply visit the Comrades website to sign up for a 5km, 10km, 21.1km, 45km or 90km run.

(Additional reporting by Nica Richards)

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