Launch of 2019 Comrades Marathon
October 12, 2018  

‘Sizonqoba – Together We Triumph’ is the chosen campaign slogan for the 2019 Comrades Marathon to be hosted in June next year. The unifying campaign theme was unveiled by the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) in Johannesburg today (Thursday, 11 October 2018).

The annual launch of the 94th Comrades Marathon attracted the nation’s top media, road-running dignitaries, sponsors, stakeholders, ultra-runners, sporting personalities and 2018 Comrades Marathon Champs, Bongmusa Mthembu and Ann Ashworth.

CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn said, “It is with a great sense of pleasure that we unveil our campaign for next year’s race, ‘Sizonqoba – Together We Triumph’ which sums up the unifying nature of the Comrades Marathon. It is a significant and pertinent campaign slogan that highlights all what the Comrades Marathon epitomizes.”

Winn adds, “We are certain that our athletes will not just embrace our 2019 campaign slogan but resonate with everything that it stands for. Nothing compares to the camaraderie, fellowship, togetherness and solidarity in road-running as that of The Ultimate Human Race.”

The 94th Comrades Marathon will be an Up Run on Sunday, 9 June 2019. The race starts at the Durban City Hall at 05h30 and ends 12 hours later at the Scottsville Race Course, covering a distance of approximately 87km. This will be the 48th Up Run in Comrades history.

Exciting developments for the 2019 race are the introduction of two new medals and increased prize money for the Top 7 finishers. The CMA has confirmed that the women’s equivalent of the Wally Hayward Medal (which is awarded to those runners who finish outside the gold medals, but under 6 hours i.e. Position 11 to sub 6 hours) will now be a part of the race going forward.

This medal will be named the Isavel Roche-Kelly Medal and will be awarded to those Women finishing in Position 11 to sub 7 hours 30 minutes (ie outside the gold medals, but under 7½ hours).

Roche-Kelly won both the 1980 and 1981 editions of The Ultimate Human Race and was the first woman to break the 7½-hour barrier in 1980, finishing her Comrades race in 7 hours and 18 minutes.  She went on to finish in 6 hours and 44 minutes the following year. Sadly she passed away in a cycling accident in her native Northern Ireland at the age of only 24, just 3 years later.

The Robert Mtshali Medal will be the new addition to the Comrades Medal Collection and will be awarded to those runners finishing in 9 hours to sub-10 hours. Mtshali was the first unofficial Black runner in the 1935 Comrades Marathon, finishing his race in 9 hours and 30 minutes. This medal will be made of titanium.

Prize money totaling R4.3 million is up for grabs in the 2019 event with R500-thousand for both the Male and Female Winners, R250-thousand to the runners-up and R180-thousand for Third Position. This is an increase of nearly 13% over the 2018 amounts.

The opening date for entries is Friday, 19 October 2018. The entry period closes on 10 December 2018 or as soon as the entry cap of 25,000 has been reached. Prospective entrants are encouraged to get their entries in early to avoid disappointment, considering that entries sold out in three weeks for the 2018 race.

Entry fees for the 2019 Comrades Marathon are as follows:
•    South African                                                          : R 600.00
•    Foreign Athletes – Africa/ SADC countries     : R1500.00
•    Foreign Athletes – International                        : R3800.00

There will be no ‘early bird’ entry fee going forward. Entry is free to all runners who have completed the Comrades Marathon 25 times or more.

Runners can enter as follows:
•    online via the Comrades Marathon website: www.comrades.com;
•    by posting their completed entry form with proof of payment to the CMA Office: P.O. Box 100621, Scottsville, 3209;
•    by handing in their completed entry form together with payment at Comrades House, 18 Connaught Road, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg.  

CMA Race Director, Rowyn James says, ‘We have exciting plans in place for next year’s Up Run. With entries opening on 19 October, we urge our athletes to enter early and claim their spot on the starting line of the world’s most epic ultra-marathon.’

James adds, “Qualifying for the 2019 Comrades Marathon is applicable as of 26 August 2018 till 2 May 2019. The qualifying criteria for next year’s Comrades Marathon will be to complete a standard 42.2km marathon in under 4 hours and 50 minutes, or a 56km ultra-marathon in under 6 hours and 45 minutes.”

The Substitution Process will open on 1 March and close on 15 April 2019, allowing athletes an extra two weeks for potential substitutions.

Six charities will benefit from the Comrades Marathon’s Amabeadibeadi charity drive for 2019. They are Childhood Cancer Foundation SA (CHOC), Community Chest of Pietermaritzburg & Durban, Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust, Hospice South Africa, Wildlands Conservation Trust and World Vision SA.

The Race4Charity fundraising platform requires that runners raise a minimum of R6000 for the Amabeadibeadi charity of their choice, in order to qualify for the charity seeding batch on the start line. 500 entries have been reserved for Race4Charity runners. For more details on the Race4Charity initiative, click through to www.comrades.com/charities/race-4-charity

Winn has called on all runners to support the charitable fundraising initiatives of the CMA, saying, “We urge all Comrades entrants to select the Official Charity closest to their heart and commit to running for a cause greater than themselves. As the CMA, we have placed great focus on benefitting the communities in which we operate and continuously add value to the sport of athletics.”

Winn also presented 2018 Comrades Women’s Champ, Ann Ashworth, with her coveted Comrades Winners Jacket, a day earlier than planned, due to Ann’s unavailability to receive it at the Old Mutual Spirit of Comrades Awards gala in Durban tomorrow evening, owing to a prior commitment.

CMA Vice Chairperson, Sifiso Nzuza said, ‘We anticipate that the introduction of two new medals, the Isavel Roche-Kelly Medal and the Robert Mtshali Medal will inject an added impetus to the 2019 Comrades Marathon in the form of increased intensity of competition in the women’s race and an added and achievable incentive for bronze medal runners to also pick up their pace and run faster. The 2019 Comrades Marathon Up Run will once again unite ultra-runners from South Africa and the world, come race day. We welcome all of our runners, supporters and stakeholders to share in the camaraderie, joy and exhilaration of Comrades race day on Sunday, 9 June 2019.’