The Comrades Marathon is the oldest ultra-marathon in the world, and celebrates its 89th anniversary in 2014. We recall some of the finest moments from every decade of the world's greatest footrace.
After the Great War of 1914-1918, war veteran Vic Clapham set himself a mission: to create a memorial that would commenorate his comrades-in-arms, that would honour those who had fought and died, and would pay homage to the camaraderie that had grown stronger with each hardship they had endured. Clapham decided to create a living memorial, and after a few years of having to convince others that the feat was possible, the Comrades Marathon was born on Empire Day, 24 May 1921.
After much difficulty convincing the ex-soldiers' association, the League of Comrades, that the distance was in fact achievable, permission was finally granted to organise the race under the name of the Comrades Marathon. The League financed the first race to the tune of two pounds, which was to be paid back by Clapham. From the first, the race was intended as a testament and memorial to human spirit, endurance and achievement. And it is not only the length of the race which sets it apart, but also this spirit which accompanies it throughtout.
Heroes are usually associated with fanfares, limelight and maximum exposure, which is generally the case with Comrades Marathon, with the winners, especially in the modern age, being accorded huge worldwide TV and media coverage. We remember all past "Heroes" and not just the great achievers but the ordinary, generally non-athletic runner who participates merely to finish. It is these "Heroes" who epitomise and capture the spirit of the Comrades Marathon encapsulated in the constitution of the Comrades Marathon Association... A Comrades Marathon Festival celebrating the triumph of mankind's spirit over adversity in Comrades Marathon as a jubilee sports event.
Arthur Newton | Hardy Ballington | Wally Hayward | Jackie Mekler | Alan Robb | Bruce Fordyce | Frith Van Der Merwe | Elena Nurgalieva