Cor van Heyningen from Tzaneen Marathon Club upon completion of his virtual 90km Comrades Marathon last year. This gutsy athlete will compete again come Sunday.

This coming Sunday, the 13th of June, athletes from Tzaneen and clubs from surrounding areas will join fellow long distance runners from across the country, and indeed the globe, in the 2021 edition of the virtual Comrades Centenary Hope Challenge.

This year’s virtual race will be similar to last year’s Comrades Ultra Marathon event where local runners like Cor van Heyningen from Tzaneen Marathon Club completed the 90km distance race making use of designated routes locally.

“It is disappointing not to be able to compete in the actual Comrades race again this year, but some things are what they are, and we have to at times accept what we cannot change and just adapt,” van Heyningen said.

“With regards to Sunday’s virtual race, I will again compete in the 90km event and will be accompanied and supported by friends and family along the route. I am looking forward to running and will start at 06:00 on Sunday morning. I believe my fitness regime has me well prepared for this year’s event.”

To recap what the virtual edition of the Comrades Centenary Hope Challenge entails, the routes and distance can be from anywhere in the world. Athletes must simply select the course of their choice and participate on the chosen
route. Whether it be on your property, a treadmill or on public roads.

Athletes can compete in different distances ranging from 5km to 10km, 21.1km, 45km and then the real beast; the 90km. On Friday the 4th of June, Cheryl Winn, the Comrades Ultra Marathon Association chairperson, announced the rules and the virtual
marathon to the hordes of disappointed athletes who were looking forward to competing in an actual race in celebration of the Comrades’ one hundredth birthday.

“It came as a great disappointment last year, when amongst all the other deprivations, the isolation, loss of life, livelihoods, liberties, and quality of life, the 2020 Comrades Marathon was brought to a halt by a microscopic virus for the first time in 75 years,” explained Winn.

“It was an even more devastating blow to cancel the 2021 Comrades Ultra Marathon in our Centenary Year. It gives us great hope though, to see major international marathons such as the London, New York and Boston Marathons opening up later this year and a number of events such as the SA Track and Field Junior and Senior Championships amongst others.”

She went on to say that she was hopeful for a return to some sort of normality for the sport, especially given the current vaccine roll-out campaigns.

“Instead, we will be staging the Comrades Centenary Hope Challenge, a virtual event, on Sunday the 13th of June, the date on which the 2021 Comrades Marathon race was originally scheduled”.

She made a call on all Comrades Marathon runners, family members, friends and supporters to personally participate in the Centenary Celebrations over a distance of their choice.

“Come and experience the camaraderie of the Ultimate Human Race vicariously along with tens of thousands of runners in towns, villages, cities and rural areas throughout South Africa and the world.”

The runners will receive a limited-edition commemorative t-shirt and upon completion of their respective race, an extremely attractive genuine Comrades Centenary Hope Challenge Medal, which is destined to become a collector’s item according to Winn.

“This is not your average virtual event, but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a historical Centenary Celebration, while contributing towards ensuring the future sustainability of the Ultimate Human Race.”

The entry fees for the various distances are R100 (5km), R150 (10km) and R400 for the 21,1km, 45km and 90km virtual races.