DURBAN – They are selfless and dedicated. They have incredible perseverance and personify Ubuntu. Added to that is their unconditional love for the Comrades Marathon.
Danie de Wet, Bob de la Motte and Bruce Hargreaves were last night honoured as this year’s recipients of the Old Mutual Spirit of Comrades Award at a beachfront hotel in Durban.
De La Motte’s name will immediately ring a bell, given his illustrious history in the Ultimate Human Race.
His battles with Bruce Fordyce are legendary, De la Motte having finished runner-up three times to the Comrades King.
The man who has since left the country to go and live in Australia was last night lauded for his book ‘Runaway Comrade’, which highlights the difficulties that runners of colour faced due to the inequality in opportunities for professional training, support and financing that occurred as a result of apartheid.
To try and assist these iconic runners from the 1980s, Bob has made donations including the proceeds of his book sales to trusts which will benefit them in their retirement.
“Many of these trail-blazing black distance runners from the apartheid era have simply disappeared, their triumphs ignored and possibly forgotten by those who should be keeping their memory alive and honouring them,” De La Motte said.
That Daniel de Wet ran this year’s race was an utter miracle given that just three years ago he had a 1.8-metre metal industrial crowbar penetrate his body at a mine in Carletonville.
De Wet had run six Comrades before the accident and was overwhelmed with emotion to be lining up for his seventh in Maritzburg in June.
“I was so blessed to be at the start of Comrades 2018, knowing every day that my training was leading me to not just a great experience, but a life-changing event that teaches you to train your body and also your mind.
“This was my seventh Comrades, and I dedicated it to Milpark Hospital ICU staff, every paramedic, my wife, my training group and my late running partner, my dad, who stood by me every step of the way.
“Thanks to Comrades for changing lives and motivating people like me to stand up again!”
Hargreaves, affectionately known as Digger, has served as the Comrades Marathon International Brand Ambassador for Australia since 2008.
He has since joined the ranks of International Brand Ambassadors at Large since 2014.
Digger has been actively involved in spreading the word of The Ultimate Human Race and helping attract more international athletes to come and experience Comrades for themselves.
His tireless commitment has seen him hosting stands at marathon expos around Australia and assisting many a runner with their training schedules, as well as advising, assisting and motivating other Comrades International Ambassadors to spread the Comrades message throughout the world.
Even though he was not well enough to run in 2018, he committed to accompanying the Australian ‘team’ to this year’s Comrades and made certain that they had the nicest experience possible.
Digger has completed the Comrades Marathon eight times.
The three each received a one-ounce, 24 carat gold medallion in recognition of someone who embodies the Comrades spirit and inspires others to do good and be a shining example of goodness for humanity.
Received Spirit of Comrades Award from Chair Cheryl Winn. Forever indebted to my family, Varsity Kudus, RAC, the incredible South African running community, Comrades Marathon and the forgotten black athletes from the apartheid era #Rakabaele #Tjale and others. Extraordinary souls pic.twitter.com/mG74fIt0yK
Also honoured last night were Dean Wight and Grant Cummings for raising R327 000 and R323 000 each for Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust.
The trio of Brian Swart, Dave Dixon and Jeremy Boulter got the CMA Green Name which is conferred upon members who have rendered outstanding meritorious service to the race and the CMA.
They were honoured for exceptionally long service to Comrades.
Champion Bongumusa Mthembu received his winner’s jacket last night.