Ann Ashworth’s time as Comrades race and operations manager ‘comes to an end’

Ann Ashworth. Picture: Facebook

Ann Ashworth. Picture: Facebook

Published Jun 27, 2024


Durban — The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has confirmed the departure of Comrades race and operations manager Ann Ashworth.

This comes after, on Wednesday night, on her Facebook page, Ashworth said: “My time at the CMA has come to an end. The board feels that I lack the necessary leadership and race management abilities to continue to serve as the race and operations manager.”

Ashworth said that given recent events, this decision has not come as a surprise. For weeks there have been rumblings among the naysayers that “the board would be dealing with me”.

“The board will tell you that I did not accept their offer to extend my contract before their subsequent decision to revoke the offer. They will also say that I have previously indicated that I did not wish to remain in my position beyond June 30,” Ashworth continued.

“What is true is that I had offered to resign on at least three occasions but this offer was never accepted; I was hesitant to stay on at the CMA given what was happening in the office and behind closed doors; and I was convinced to sign my offer of extension after discussing matters with my staff and Tier 1 sponsors who wished me to remain in my position.”

Concluding, Ashworth said: “Regardless, and in spite of all my sacrifices and the dedication I have shown to the race for yet another year; I have once again been humbled. I have taken myself to the brink, worked myself to the bone, and I have no medal to show for it. That’s life. Thankfully, no experience is ever wasted and I look forward to what life has to offer in the next chapter.”

Comrades Marathon Association vice-chairperson Les Burnard, former Comrades Marathon Association race and operations manager Ann Ashworth and Comrades Marathon Association chairperson Mqondisi Ngcobo. Picture: Supplied

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, the CMA said it regretted to announce the departure of Ashworth from her role as the Comrades Marathon race and operations manager with immediate effect.

The CMA thanked her for her contribution to a highly successful race.

Ashworth’s tenure was to run from November 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024, as interim head of operations and logistics for the 97th edition of the Comrades Marathon, held earlier this month.

CMA chairperson Mqondisi Ngcobo said: “The CMA had entered into an interim contractual agreement with Mrs Ann Ashworth that expires on June 30. The so-called ‘Vanillagate’ saga has no bearing on her departure.”

Ngcobo said the CMA appreciates Ashworth’s contributions to The Ultimate Human Race and wishes her well in her future endeavours.

He said the search for a new Comrades Marathon race and operations manager will begin promptly.

In the meantime, the CMA has appointed Alain Dalais as the acting race and operations manager until the position is filled permanently.

Ngcobo said that on the issue of the CMA board member that has attracted public interest and following their media statement last week in which they had indicated that they had asked the board member to reflect on the “implications of her message personally, professionally, and as a member of the CMA board”, the CMA board met on Tuesday, June 25 to deliberate on it.

He said the constitution of the CMA does not empower the board to remove a board member. However, due to the seriousness of the matter, and in terms of clause 13.2.1 read with clause 20 of the CMA constitution, and the best interests of the CMA, the board has resolved to convene a special general meeting to get a mandate from members on this matter within 30 days of this resolution.

“The CMA wishes to reiterate its commitment to serving the best interests of all runners and to ensuring that there is no place for any form of discrimination within the race itself, its organisation or amongst its members,” Ngcobo said.

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