The SA Institute for Drug-Free Sports has banned two of the top 10 finishers in last years Comrades Marathon for doping. File Photo: AFP

Durban - With the 89th Comrades Marathon only three days away, the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has made an important announcement.

For the first time, friends and family members of a runner who is receiving medical treatment at the finish venue medical tent at Kingsmead Cricket Ground, will be able to go to the General Information tent and make enquiries as to the condition of the runner in question, or even apply for an entry permit to access a special medical waiting area.

Tea, coffee, TV facilities and access to certain medical staff will be available at the medical waiting area.

Comrades doctor Jeremy Boulter said: “It can be quite traumatic to have a friend or family member admitted to the medical tent, and we have therefore tried to make the experience a little less stressful by creating the medical waiting area. Sometimes it’s the little things that count.”

Meanwhile, the 20th Congress of the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (Aims) has its first session (9am to 5pm) at the Elangeni Hotel on Thursday.

Hosted by the CMA, it will be attended by 200 delegates from around 40 countries, representing more than 100 of the greatest marathons and distance races on the planet.

The congress will have three sessions in all, the second tomorrow (9am to 5pm) and the third on Saturday (9am to 1pm) as part of the build-up to the Comrades on Sunday.

Funded by the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation, the congress aims to facilitate the exchange of information, knowledge, expertise, ideas and innovations to improve the quality of member events and generally promote and uplift the staging of marathons and the sport of road running around the world.

Relatively short races such as The World’s Best 10km in Puerto Rico and Morocco’s 10km Marrakech International will be represented, as will the Lake Saroma 100km in Japan.

Aims-affiliated South African road running races that will be represented include the Two Oceans, Peninsula, Cape Town, Maritzburg and Mandela Day marathons.

As host organisers, the CMA has been given special dispensation to invite a select number of non-Aims-affiliated races to attend as observers.

These include the Soweto, City to City, Loskop, Om die Dam, Knysna and Zululand marathons, with a view to exposing them to the benefits of joining Aims.

Congress chairwoman Cheryl Winn said: “We are very excited to be hosting this prestigious congress, which is a first for our country and the continent.”

The congress will also give race organisers the opportunity to promote their races to more than 50 000 runners and visitors at the Bonitas-Comrades Expo from Thursday until Saturday at the Durban Exhibition Centre.

The congress culminates in all delegates being invited to the 89th edition of the Comrades Marathon on Sunday.

The Mercury