Ups and downs of latest Comrades

Gerda Steyn won her third Comrades this past weekend. | BackpagePix

Gerda Steyn won her third Comrades this past weekend. | BackpagePix

Published Jun 12, 2024



THE 97th running of the Comrades Marathon was as eventful as its predecessors, dishing up exciting drama galore.

Matshelane Mamabolo was there and suffered serious FOMO from not being on the road with the multitudes of runners. The brutal nature of a first up run in five years, however, gave him pause to reconsider. Here are his highs and lows from the race.



Although I knew she would win, I was still in awe of just how easy she made it seem.

Wasn’t it just incredible how Gerda got better and faster as the race progressed – leaving her adversaries in her wake?

And she did that with a smile. She obliterated all manner of best times as she finished in the top 25 overall, a number of former male champions eating her dust. The cherry on top for me came at the post-race media conference – Steyn so gracious in victory she dedicated her triumph to all her supporters, while hoping to inspire the country to not be afraid to go for victory in the difficult things.

What a champion! No doubt she will have the whole country cheering her on when she races in the Paris Olympics marathon.


When no male athlete from KwaZulu-Natal finished in the top 10 last year, there was almost a general consensus in running circles that the three-time champion Mthembu had reached his sell-by date. But form – as the saying goes – is temporary and class is permanent.

Mthumbu got down to work after that disappointment and even took along some younger athletes with him in an effort to restore the host province’s dignity. And he delivered alright, the man from Bulwer coming in at sixth place for his 10th gold medal – a feat not many are ever going to realise.



Ann Ashworth holds a very important position at the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA), that of race and operations manager.

But the former race winner needs to understand that Comrades is bigger than her and that it needs all stakeholders for it to continue to be a success. Ashworth unilaterally decided to cancel the media truck that follows the leading athletes.

She made the decision without informing her board and saw no need to consult the Fourth Estate, without which the race would not be the success it is. The sponsors back the CMA because they know they will get a return on their investments through the publicity the media gives them.

Ashworth, however, thinks differently and that is disappointing.


Tete Dijana worked his way into the hearts of South African road running fans with his back-to-back victories in the past two editions and many were rooting for him to complete a rare hat-trick of victories. And it looked as though he would when he was with the leading bunch late in the race.

But just before Little Pollys the wheels came off for the runner from Mahikeng and it was a heartbreaking sight. To see him struggling with cramps, his legs failing to hold on was one of the saddest moments of the weekend’s race.

Granted it was amazing that he went on to finish in 15th place, but at what cost?

I saw him at the finish and he was still not looking well, shivering as he explained that he did not only suffer cramps but he had blackouts too and struggled to find sugary stuff to help re-energise himself. Here’s hoping he recovers to try defend his down run title next year.