2018 OLD MUTUAL SPIRIT OF COMRADES AWARD
“Everybody can be great because, everybody can serve.” – Martin Luther King Jr
Three outstanding individuals who showcased the true spirit of The Ultimate Human Race over the course of their running careers were selected by the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) for this year’s prestigious Old Mutual Spirit of Comrades Award.
The annual awards gala celebrates the goodwill and noble qualities associated with the spirit of the Comrades Marathon. The awards gala was hosted at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni Hotel in Durban on Friday, 12 October 2018, together with major sponsor, Old Mutual.
The Old Mutual Spirit of Comrades awards gala honours three remarkable individuals every year for their very human attributes of selflessness, dedication, perseverance and Ubuntu; combined with their love for The Ultimate Human Race.
The prestigious awards gala has been hosted by the CMA since 1991. The three Old Mutual Spirit of Comrades recipients are awarded a one-ounce, 24 carat gold medallion. More than that, the award is a very notable recognition of someone who embodies the Comrades spirit and inspires others to do good and be a shining example of goodness for humanity.
More than seventy individual nominations were received this year, the majority of which were submitted by Comrades Marathon runners and the general public. The CMA welcomes nominations from the public at large, as well as its members and other stakeholders.
The CMA’s Heritage & Traditions Committee adjudicated the nominations and made recommendations which were then approved by the CMA Board. The awards criteria place special emphasis on Comrades Marathon winners, legends, volunteers and otherwise ordinary heroes and heroines; who through individual acts of service, sacrifice, courage or perseverance, either in a single race or over a period of time, exhibit the noble qualities associated with The Ultimate Human Race.
FIRST RECIPIENT: DANIE DE WET
When Daniel de Wet regained consciousness in Netcare Milpark Hospital after a 1.8-metre metal industrial crowbar penetrated his body at a mine in Carletonville, he never imagined that he would ever again be preparing to take part in his first Comrades Marathon since the accident.
Danie had run the Comrades Marathon six times prior to his accident. As fate would have it, one afternoon in January 2015, Danie, an engineering supervisor, was working on washing out a dam 3.5km underground at a mine in Carletonville, using an extended crowbar to stir up the mud, when he suddenly slipped. Mr De Wet looked down and, to his utter disbelief, saw that the metal bar had penetrated his body entering his groin area and coming out of his back, just below his shoulder blade.
He recalls how the mine’s rescue team had to carry him perched awkwardly in a sitting position on a stretcher, as the metal bar protruding from his body was almost level with Danie’s feet, making it impossible for him lie down.
“I was talking the whole time, trying to keep the other guys calm,” he remembers. Having been brought up to surface level at a pace that would ensure that he did not suffer any adverse decompression effects, commonly known as ‘the bends’, he was airlifted to Netcare Milpark Hospital’s world-class, level-one trauma centre by an experienced team of Netcare 911 paramedics.
When he arrived two surgical teams, led by renowned trauma surgeons, were ready to operate: one team concentrating on his injuries in the abdomen and one on those in the chest area.
Once the extended crowbar was pulled completely free of Danie’s body, the doctors saw that the impalement had caused significant damage, destroying one kidney and damaging his small bowel and numerous blood vessels. Although Danie had lost a kidney and was in a coma for 14 days, he made rapid progress and was discharged from hospital just 19 days later.
Danie says, “I am fortunate to have an amazing support base, particularly my wife, and there are so many people encouraging me. I have many friends and guys who run with me, and they have helped me through the difficult times.”
On the Comrades Marathon, Danie says, “I was quite young when I ran my first Comrades race in 2001 and I tried to run every year as I was so motivated with what the Comrades Marathon had instilled in me.”
“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 7th 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!”
SECOND RECIPIENT: BOB DE LA MOTTE
The second deserving recipient was Bob de la Motte. Bob was runner up in the Comrades Marathon three times, with a personal best of 5h26m12s. Bob’s book, ‘Runaway Comrade’ 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. In order to try and assist these iconic runners from the 80s, Bob has made donations including the proceeds of his book sales to trusts which will benefit them in their retirement.
Bob wrote Runaway Comrade against the backdrop of South Africa in the politically charged ‘80s in honour of the Comrades Marathon and some of his less fortunate fellow South African runners.
“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,” says Bob.
Bob de la Motte is a world-class ultramarathon runner, cyclist and Ironman contender. His career as a chartered accountant and investment banker has taken him to London, the USA and ultimately to Australia where he has lived since 1987.
After retiring from his commercial career in 2009, De la Motte has continued to pursue his sporting interests all over the world including Ironman, cycling, mountain biking and marathoning, all at a recreational tempo. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia.
De la Motte Bob ran second to Fordyce in the Comrades Marathon in 1984, 86 and 87. He won South Africa’s prestigious 50km JSE (City2City) Marathon in 1985 and the 56km Korkie Marathon in 1986. In Australia he won the Perth Marathon, the national Australian cross country title (M35) and set Australian records for 30 miles and 40 miles in the Mundaring to York ultramarathon.
In mountain biking he has completed the 8-day Cape Epic and Australia’s 9-day Crocodile Trophy. He has won many age group titles including the 100km MTB marathon event in Western Australia and the 249km Gran Fondo Fausto Coppi cycling race in Cuneo, Italy. In Ironman, De la Motte qualified for Kona with his debut 10:30 as a 50 year old. In 2014, de la Motte ran Boston Marathon as a 60 year-old in 3:06 finishing 9th in his age category.
THIRD RECIPIENT: BRUCE HARGREAVES
Bruce 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 Ambassador 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 to South Africa and experience the 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.
Digger is always happy to assist his Australian ‘team’ with any query they may have and, even though he was not well enough to run in 2018, he committed to accompanying them to this year’s Comrades and made certain that they had the nicest experience possible.
Digger has completed the Comrades Marathon 8 times, with a personal best of 9:39:39 achieved in 2009.
Receiving the award on behalf of Digger was Ethembeni School Principal, Braam Mouton, who said, “I am greatly honoured to receive this award on behalf of Bruce ‘Digger’ Hargreaves. I met Digger 10 years ago and since then have experienced him as a person whose commitment and dedication is rarely equaled. He not only became a personal philanthropist for Ethembeni School but also motivated other foreign runners to do so. Thanks to him, every Australian, and most international Comrades runners know Ethembeni and contribute in kindness and in the true Comrades Spirit to the school. Bruce is an exceptional legend in the running fraternity and deserves to receive this Spirit of Comrades Award.”
CMA JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR: MATSHELANE MAMABOLO
This year’s Comrades Journalist of the Year was the Sports Editor of Independent Media - Gauteng. He has covered The Ultimate Human Race most extensively this year, drumming up support and consistently showcasing the enduring spirit of the Comrades Marathon. He is Matshelane Mamabolo.
Matshelane does not just report on the race; he runs it too. He tells us that the Comrades Marathon is more than just a road running event. In his words: “The Comrades Marathon is the ultimate challenge, not just in running but in life. That 90+km run puts you through a test that helps you discover yourself as a person, your willpower, your patience, your humanity and your empathy.”
He adds, “I grew up watching the Comrades and always rooted for Hosea Tjale and never thought I would run it being the asthmatic I am. But to have done two has just been amazing and I am looking forward to many more.”
CMA CHARITY FUNDRAISERS OF THE YEAR: DEAN WIGHT & GRANT CUMMINGS
The CMA is exceedingly proud and passionate about the Comrades Amabeadibeadi Charity Drive which benefits 6 official charities. To this end, the CMA presents its Comrades Marathon Top Charity Fundraiser Award to the person who has raised the most funds for the Comrades Charities.
This year, two amazing individuals were honoured with the prestigious accolade due to the amazing amounts fundraised by them.
DEAN WIGHT: Dean Wight is the brainchild behind Beloved Long Runs, a running group designed to get you to the start, and finish, of the Comrades Marathon. These training sessions are formalized with refreshment stations and are done over areas of the Comrades route.
Dean has been an ambassador for Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust for a year now and works very closely with the team. We thank Dean for his impressive fundraising of 327-thousand rand this year.
GRANT CUMMINGS: The 2018 leg of the race was a special one for Grant Cummings as he ran his 10th Comrades and achieved his Green Number. To celebrate this milestone, he decided to dedicate this race to the memory of his grandmother who had passed away earlier this year at age 96.
Grant has always been a generous runner, raising well over 1 million for various charities though our Race4Charity platform over the past ten years. His tenth saw him raise an impressive amount of 323-thousand rand also for CMA’s new Official Charity, situated right on the Comrades route – Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust
2018 WINNERS JACKET: BONGMUSA MTHEMBU AND ANN ASHWORTH
The glitzy evening also saw the awarding of the Comrades Marathon Winners Jackets to the 2018 Men’s Winner Bongmusa Mthembu and acknowledging Women’s Winner, Ann Ashworth who was unable to attend owing to a prior commitment.
Bongmusa, who runs for Arthur Ford Athletic Club, holds three Comrades Marathon victories, having won the 2014, 2017 and 2018 races. He claimed First Position this year with his winning time of 5:26:34, the 9th fastest Down Run time in history.
Ann took the women’s glory in a winning time of 6:10:04 which was the 10th fastest Down Run time in history. Ann’s Winners Jacket had been presented to her on the previous day in Johannesburg at the Media Launch of the 2019 Comrades Marathon.
CMA GREEN NAMES:
The CMA Green Name is conferred upon members who have rendered outstanding meritorious service to the race and the CMA paid tribute to three individuals for exceptionally long service to the Comrades Marathon.
BRIAN SWART: Brian has dedicated 40 years of his life to assisting in various capacities behind the scenes at Comrades. In recent years he has been a valued convener of the Comrades International Bus Tours and member of the CMA Heritage & Traditions Committee and has worked tirelessly for many months on improving the Comrades history data and statistical record keeping of the race. Brian earned 15 Comrades medals during his active running career between 1978 and 1995.
DAVE DIXON: Dave Dixon has rendered exceptional service and leadership to the Comrades Marathon Association Board serving as Chairman of the Board during three separate terms of office for a total of 9 years. He has also assisted his wife Paula in the Comrades Catering portfolio feeding hundreds of Comrades volunteers on race day for decades. Also over a period of 40 years Dave has served in numerous capacities and currently serves on the CMA’s Marketing and Communications Committee, as well as the HR and Remuneration Committee.
JEREMY BOULTER: Doctor Boulter started volunteering at the Comrades Marathon in 1979 while working as an intern at Edendale Hospital. He has been stationed the Comrades Medical Tent from the start and took over the management of the portfolio from John Godlonton in 1995. Dr Boulter has been the Chief Medic for 24 years. He also served on the CMA Board for about five years.
“Every single runner who takes part in the Comrades Marathon is extraordinary, overcoming their own unique set of challenges on race day. The Old Mutual Spirit of Comrades Awards recognises those individuals whose bravery and perseverance stand out, even in a field of champions,” says Old Mutual’s Chief Marketing Officer, Vuyo Lee. “Huge congratulations to all the 2018 Spirit of Comrades winners. We salute you for doing great things every day and for inspiring so many others with the power of your spirit.”
CMA Chairperson Cheryl Winn says, “We congratulate all of our recipients at tonight’s awards gala. We thank Old Mutual and all other sponsors and partners, for their contribution to the success of this event; and for supporting this platform where we get to recognize the accomplishments of our Comrades heroes and heroines.”
Winn adds, “Without the support of our generous sponsors, many of our seemingly ordinary Comrades legends who do such extraordinary work, will go unnoticed. Each of the awardees have showcased the true spirit of the Comrades Marathon. May we be inspired and motivated to do great things as we celebrate our winners tonight.”