March 5, 2024

Comrades Marathon eventually admits to cut-off debacle

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) Board was left with egg on their faces and eventually decided to apologise for the numerous debacles at this year’s Down Run on Sunday, 11 June.

They have amongst others apologised for the incorrect cut-off times being featured on the official Comrades Marathon App which had not been updated from the previous year.

The CMA will be reaching out to those runners who were potentially affected by the cut-off discrepancies.

In a statement released on Friday the CMA responded to the many concerns raised by runners in this year’s 96thrunning of the world-famous 87.7km ultramarathon.

  1. Start Sound

A debrief session with the service provider whom we had used for the last three editions of the race has already taken place to identify what transpired and how to avoid a repeat in future years. The sound system failure had a knock-on effect of the “synced” soundtracks not being audible which in turn led to a time lapse in the firing of the official start gun in relation to when the canon went off.

It is worth noting that the same service provider had also provided the finish venue sound system where no problems were experienced. Going forward, the service provider is introducing a secondary/ backup system that can be switched over, should the need arise.

  1. Route

For the next Down Run, alternative routes out of Pietermaritzburg will be investigated.

  1. Cut-offs

The CMA wishes to categorically and unreservedly apologise to those runners who were affected by the cut-off times at Pinetown and Sherwood.

To mitigate this going forward, the services of relevant professionals will be called upon to assist the technical team in determining a fair and just time for the cut-off at each point based on the official race distance.

  1. Finish Venue

For the next Down Run, the CMA will consult with various professionals to help redesign the finish venue layout with regards to infrastructure in a bid to ensure an effective ‘easy flow’ of runners and supporters; and alleviate congestion concerns raised, particularly in the late afternoon.

CMA Chairperson, Mqondisi Ngcobo says, “Regarding some of the other concerns raised by athletes, the CMA has noted these and is working with the relevant sub-committees through the debriefs in order to adequately address those, namely start safety concerns, T-shirt sizes, medals, littering etc.

“The main aim of the CMA is to stage a safe and enjoyable ultramarathon and live up to its reputation as The Ultimate Human Race. The concerns raised by our athletes are important in this regard.”

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