Ongoing showers could not dampen the high spirits enveloping the official launch of next year’s Comrades Marathon at Comrades House in Scottsville on Tuesday.
Prominent names in road running, including athletes, coaches, managers, sponsors and administrators, braved the weather to hear details about the next edition of the ultra marathon, which will be an up-run.
The presentation focused on the new slogan and the increased prize money, with reigning champ Tete Dijana and newly-appointed CMA race and operations manager Ann Ashworth in attendance.
Next year’s race will be the 97th edition of the Comrades Marathon and the official slogan for the 2024 up run (from Durban to Pietermaritzburg) will be “No Doubt — Nakanjani”.
The new slogan refers to the Comrades athletes’ firm belief in the power, stature and attraction of the world’s biggest, oldest and most loved ultra-marathon.
The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) chairperson Mqondisi Ngcobo said next year’s Comrades Marathon would be different and exciting and would attract millions of viewers from around the world as well as South Africa.
There is absolutely no doubt that the 2024 Comrades Marathon is going to be one of the most exhilarating editions of the world-famous ultramarathon as we host an up-run again after nearly five years. The slogan speaks to the legacy of this larger-than-life event, lauded by athletes around the globe as the ultimate road-running challenge and the world’s greatest footrace.
“The Comrades Marathon has contributed in so many meaningful ways to changing lives, adding purpose and enhancing the social landscape of our beautiful country,” said Ngcobo.
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The 97th Comrades Marathon will be held on Sunday, June 9, 2024, starting at the Durban City Hall at 5.30 pm and finishing 12 hours later at the Hollywoodbets Scottsville Racecourse. As with previous up-runs, the race distance will be approximately 87 km and this will be the 49th Comrades up-run.
The entry period officially kicks off at 10 am on Tuesday, November 21 and will close at 4.30 pm on December 11, or once the entry cap of 23 000 has been reached, whichever comes first.
Entry fees remain the same as that of the 2023 race. The entry fee will be waived for holders of 25 or more Comrades medals.
Online entries can be done via the Comrades Marathon website: www.comrades.com.
CMA race and operations manager, Ann Ashworth said, “We look forward to pulling out all the stops in ensuring a memorable race day for our athletes.
Qualification for the 2024 Comrades Marathon is applicable from September 1 till May 2, 2024. The qualifying criteria for next year’s Comrades Marathon remain unchanged, requiring completion of a standard, officially timed 42,2 km marathon in under four hours and 50 minutes, or a 56 km ultra-marathon in under six hours and 45 minutes.
The substitution process will run over the month of March and April 2024. More details will be revealed closer to the time.
Ashworth also confirmed that prize money for the 2024 Comrades Marathon has been increased by 10% for the Top Ten, meaning the winner in both the men’s and women’s races will take home a cool R550 000, with a total prize purse of over R4,6 million, which includes a cash payment of R550 000 should the winners break the best time previously recorded for the up-run in both the men’s and women’s races.
The CMA has also introduced a 70+ prize category for the first man and woman over the age of 70 years to cross the finish line.
Additionally, in conjunction with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, the race will incentivise the second and third KZN men and women home with a cash prize. This was previously reserved for only the first KZN man and woman.
CMA vice chairperson and head of the finance committee, Les Burnard also announced the introduction of the Comrades Runners’ Relief Fund. Through this initiative, up to 1 500 disadvantaged athletes may apply for a reduced entry fee of 50% (terms and conditions apply).
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Since inception, the Comrades Amabeadibeadi Charity Drive has raised more than R71 million for the CMA’s official charities.
The newly selected charities for 2024 are Childhood Cancer Foundation SA (Choc), Childline KwaZulu-Natal, Community Chest of Pietermaritzburg & Durban, Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust, Rise Against Hunger and SANParks Honorary Rangers.