David Gatebe, winner of the 2016 Comrades Marathon. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Next Sunday when you are out pounding the road up from Durban to Pietermaritzburg in pursuit of your Comrades Marathon medal, be sure to be kind to the guy or lady struggling to put his left foot in front of his right one.

Chances are you might find yourself reporting to him at work in future.

The Ultimate Human Race, run by people from all walks of life, has attracted more people in managerial positions that any other occupation.

According to the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA), a massive 2 030 participants that will be running the 92nd edition of the Comrades are ‘managers’.

Add to that number the 321 supervisors, the 16 editors and one mayor up for the 87km run, although in truth it is going to be a run/walk for many, and you are going to have a lot of ‘bosses’ out there on the road.

Not that it will matter or you will even notice it. For the Comrades is an incredible leveller – a race where your standing out in the working world counts for pretty much nothing, according to those who have done it.

In total, the CMA say there are no less than a 110 different categories of occupations that will be represented at the race. You name an occupation and it is highly likely it will be represented, thus making Comrades an incredible place for people from different walks of life to connect at the same level.

There will be judges, domestic workers, accountants/auditors, the unemployed, doctors, teachers, boilermakers, housewives and pensioners. Mention any occupation and you bet they will be represented.

And these people will be from many different countries, with 69 nations going to be represented on June 4.

Sure it is nowhere near as many countries as at the Olympics – there were 207 in Rio last year. But it far surpasses the number of countries that can partake at the World Cup finals of SA’s ‘Big Three’ sports (soccer, rugby and cricket).

Expectedly, South Africa will have the most runners – 19 529 – as hosts, with Great Britain a distant second with 319, while the United States is in third, having sent 196.

Even the British Virgin Islands will be represented, proof that Comrades is a mightily popular race the world over.

Charné Bosman is the Comrades Marathon defending champion in the women’s category. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix


And all these people will be chasing differing goals. While the likes of Ludwick Mamabolo, David Gatebe and Charné Bosman will be chasing winning glory, there will be some running to raise funds for different charitable organisations, and others just to test themselves to see how fit they are.

And then there are the Comrades heroes who are going for the coveted Green Number (10 completed Comrades to the uninitiated).

It is often said that those who undertake to run Comrades in particular, must be a little crazy. After all, who in their right minds puts their body through the torture of literally chasing the wind for close on 90km?

Well, all of Boysie van Staden, Johann van Eeden, Mike Cowling, Shaun Wood and Wietsche van der Westhuizen must have their heads examined, for they are going for their 40th Comrades.

They will then have their names added on that illustrious list which includes Dave Rogers (45 Comrades completed), Barry Holland and Louis Massyn (both 44), Alan Robb and Dave Lowe (42) and David Williams (41), as well as Tommy Neitski, Vic Boston and Zwelitsha Gono (all 40).

They don’t call it “The Ultimate Human Race” for nothing. And no wonder they say every South African should at least run Comrades once.

Saturday Star

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