Comrades Marathon wants ‘everyone involved’ in 90th edition

The marketing campaign for the 90th Comrades Marathon, the world’s biggest and oldest ultra-marathon, was launched in Johannesburg on Thursday under the slogan “Be Part of It – Bamba Iqhaza”, as the event pushes to become “the most inclusive sporting event in South Africa”.

Comrades Marathon
The Comrades Marathon, the world’s oldest ultramarathon, is an important sporting event in South Africa, attracting runners from all over the world. (Image: Comrades Marathon, Facebook)

Brand South Africa reporter

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) launched its campaign for the 90th Comrades Marathon, the world’s biggest and oldest ultra-marathon, on Thursday in Johannesburg.

The 2015 campaign is centered on the CMA’s vision of an all-inclusive Comrades Marathon, with the slogan: “Be Part of It – Bamba Iqhaza”.

‘The most inclusive sporting event in SA’

“Comrades attracts around 300 000 spectators, 2.5-million TV viewers, and 4 000 volunteers, but our mission is to become ‘The most inclusive sporting event in South Africa,'” said CMA General Manager Chris Bruwer.

“So what we are asking is ‘where are the others?’ We want everyone to be involved. Go on the web and see how you can ‘Be Part of It,’ or in Zulu: ‘Bamba Iqhaza‘.

“We invite every Comrades runner, stakeholder, volunteer and supporter to be a part of this iconic race in one way or another,” he added. “There are numerous ways to get involved and participate in the camaraderie while uniting the nation through this iconic event.”

2015 race

The 90th edition of the race will be run on Sunday, 31 May 2015. An “up-run”, it will start at the Durban City Hall at 05:30 and end 12 hours later at the Oval Cricket Stadium in Pietermaritzburg, covering a distance of 87km.

The opening date for entries is 1 September 2014, with the entry period set to close on 30 November or as soon as the special entry cap of 23 000 has been reached.

That figure is only 1 000 runners less than the number allowed for the Millennium edition of the race in 2000, which produced a world record 14 343 finishers in under the 12 hour time limit. With a field close to the size of the 2000 entry, that record could fall.

“We are certainly hoping to improve on that record and have more people on the ground from the 23 000 entry capping,” said Race Director Rowyn James.

Old Mutual, which has long been associated with the Two Oceans Marathon, has taken on the role of primary sponsor of the event.

Massive money for records

A massive R1.5-million has been put up for grabs to the first man and woman to break the current men’s and women’s “up-run” records respectively.

Both records belong to Russians, with Leonid Shvetsov’s 2008 winning time of 5:24:47 in 2008 the men’s record, while Elena Nurgalieva’s 2006 victory in a time of 6:09:24 stands as the female record.

“It’s an incredibly difficult record to break,” commented nine-time winner Bruce Fordyce, who broke the record five times. “Everything will have to be right on the day, and it needs to be competitive right up to the finish line. I think the money is safe for a while.”

‘Times are there to be broken’

Current Comrades champion Bongmusa Mthembu said: “Times are there to be broken. If it is your day, then it’s your day.

“The man who got that record was human, which shows if the approach is correct it can be broken.”

The first man and first woman to cross the finishing line will receive R375 000 each.

The total prize money for the 2015 Comrades Marathon is R2 600 000, which is in addition to the possible bonuses the winners could earn for record-setting runs.


Although entries open on 1 September, with the now traditional “Early bird R30 discount” for South African runners on offer for the first month , every entrant will be required to qualify by running a five-hour marathon as the results of the 2014 Comrades Marathon will no longer count. The new qualifying period will run from 1 August 2014 to 4 May 2015.

“The reason for this is two-fold,” James explained. “We want to encourage runners to be fit and healthy for race day. Further, we want to support all other road-running races in the country, especially the Comrades Marathon qualifying races, by driving Comrades runners to participate in those running events.”

Runners will be rewarded with a special anniversary medal in next year’s race, which will be the same size as the one used in 1988, the 150-year anniversary of Pietermaritzburg, and 2010, when the 85th running of Comrades took place.

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