Singing, dance-offs, braais and more were some of what roadside supporters did to keep themselves awake and hyped up so that they provided a sustained, loud welcome and encouragement to thousands of runners who made their way to Drummond in the 93rd Comrades Marathon.
The Masongo family from Centurion was among the crowd trying to spot their family members who were running.
Didi Masongo said his family participated in the Comrades every year.
“This year we’re supporting my wife, Rami, for her first race. My brother, Mandla, this is his third; and our friend, Silly Mathibe, is running his 10th Comrades this year.
“We travelled down to support them and we are broken up in groups of four along the route, from start to finish.
“We just want them to see us and know that we are supporting them,” he said.
For one Comrades volunteer who could be seen providing refreshments at the halfway mark, his involvement was a sign of solidarity with the runners.
Nthando Mkhize, of Sea Cow Lake, said he had been handing out water sachets to runners for the past two years.
“I’m also an athlete and I come to encourage the runners. I haven’t tried Comrades yet, but I want to try running it one day. For now, I’m happy to come and support my fellow athletes and encourage them from the sidelines.”
Richard Motsamai Mavuso, sporting race number 27296, was the first male runner to reach Drummond.
He passed the halfway mark at two hours and 41 minutes.
He appeared focused as he passed the hundreds of people who gathered to cheer on the runners.
The first female runner to pass halfway was Russia’s Nina Zarina at three hours and six minutes.
She acknowledged the crowd with a wave of gratitude.
More than 21000 runners registered for this year’s Comrades, 370 of them international athletes and 554 from Africa.