Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Former Comrades winner Ann Ashworth sacked as race director

Ashworth had been under fire for most of her tenure, with an apparent rift forming between her and the CMA board.

Ann Ashworth has been sacked as the Comrades Marathon race director after just seven months in the job.

Ashworth, who won the Comrades women’s race in KwaZulu-Natal in 2018, was appointed by the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) in November last year, replacing former race director Rowyn James.

“My time at the CMA has come to an end,” Ashworth confirmed in a social media post.

“The board feels that I lack the necessary leadership and race management abilities to continue to serve as the race and operations manager.”

Positives and negatives

Ashworth had been widely praised for some of the changes she made at this year’s race, including securing a sponsor to significantly increase prize money and bonuses for elite athletes, as well as adjusting cut-off times which came as a relief for backmarkers.

There was also criticism after the 97th edition of the popular annual race earlier this month, with organisers running out of goodie bags for entrants as well as Robert Mtshali medals for runners who completed the race between nine and 10 hours. The CMA was also slammed for a major congestion of cars trying to get to the finish in Pietermaritzburg.

Ashworth had been under fire for most of her tenure, with an apparent rift forming between her and the CMA board.

“Given recent events this decision has not come as a surprise. For weeks there have been rumblings amongst the naysayers that ‘the board would be dealing with me’,” Ashworth said.

‘I worked myself to the bone’

She said she had offered to resign on three separate occasions but she had been asked to stay, admitting her time in the role had been turbulent.

“I was hesitant to stay on at the CMA given what was happening in the office and behind closed doors, and I was convinced to sign my offer of extension after discussing matters with my staff and tier one sponsors who wished me to remain in my position,” Ashworth said.

“Regardless, and in spite of all my sacrifices and the dedication I have shown to the race for yet another year, I have once again been humbled.

“I have taken myself to the brink, worked myself to the bone, and I have no medal to show for it.”

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