Comrades Marathon thanks Bonitas for its long-term sponsorship


The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has thanked Bonitas Medical Fund for serving as a major sponsor to The Ultimate Human Race for the past 15 years, putting Runners First and adding substantial value to the Comrades Marathon. 


The Bonitas brand became synonymous with the world-renowned Comrades Marathon by hosting the inimitable Comrades Marathon Start and a key on-route presence which included the Comrades Marathon kilometre marker boards, their striking brand activations at Pinetown and Botha’s Hill along the famous 90km Comrades route, as well as their trademark red and white brand name on the Comrades Marathon individual runner’s race numbers.


Bonitas also hosted the Winners Circle at the Comrades Marathon Finish Venue, as a component of its presence at the Comrades Marathon Finish and supported the Comrades Bailer Buses for many years, in addition to their brand being emblazoned on nearly half a million Comrades goodie bags over the duration of their sponsorship and in later years, supplied body warmers and the much-loved arm sleeves to all Comrades Marathon participants.  


On the television broadcast side they also sponsored the Bonitas Eye-in-the-Sky helicopter, which provided a birds-eye view and brought a fascinating additional dimension to the Comrades race day commentary.


As one of South Africa’s leading medical aid provisioners, Bonitas became a regular sight not just on race day but throughout the year, at Comrades Marathon qualifying races, roadshows, the Comrades Marathon novice and women’s seminars, webinars and most notably with their award-winning expo stand and physiotherapy facilities at the annual 3-day Comrades Marathon Expo over the past decade.


The relationship grew to such an extent that Bonitas Medical Fund became an integral partner to the incredible Comrades Marathon story, working in collaboration with the organising team behind ‘The Ultimate Human Race’ to make it a success and also to help raise funds for the Amabeadibeadi charities.

In an unprecedented gesture of gratitude for its long-standing and outstanding contribution to the Comrades Marathon success story, last year CMA accorded Bonitas with the gratuitous honour of the branding rights for the world famous and most highly photographed and televised Comrades Marathon Finish Banner.


Bonitas has however decided to not renew its sponsorship, meaning they will not be on the start or finish line from 2021.


‘It is not a decision we took lightly’, says Lee Callakoppen, Principal Officer of Bonitas. ‘After this long association we are still very invested in the ethos behind the race. Every year we have been in awe of the dedication, tenacity and commitment of the thousands of local and international runners who tackle this gruelling route.  It’s all about celebrating ordinary people doing extraordinary things.’


‘As a leading healthcare provider and a medical aid for South Africa, we have always known the importance of quality healthcare. However, Covid-19 has made this even more so. It has meant us adapting our business model to be more agile to ensure we are providing members the care they need. We have therefore decided to channel our funds into strategic healthcare and wellness initiatives.’


CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn wished Bonitas well, saying, ‘We would like to thank Bonitas for their many years of investment and support. During those 15 years, together we were able to introduce innovative ideas and host informative seminars and workshops to assist runners, all thanks to Bonitas, who were with us every step of the way.”


‘We’re pleased that the last year of our collaboration was a memorable one. The actual 2020 Comrades Marathon might have been cancelled due to the global Covid-19 pandemic however, our ‘Race The Comrades Legends’ virtual run was an overwhelming success, with 43,788 participants running in cities, towns, villages and rural areas throughout South Africa and around the world, proudly brandishing their Bonitas Comrades Race Numbers as a testament to how as runners we can adapt our sport and survive.’


Winn adds, ‘We are of course saddened at the parting of ways with Bonitas after so many years, but CMA is already actively seeking new high profile sponsors to take up the rights, commencing with what will be our most innovative, inclusive and momentous 2021 Centenary Year Celebrations.’


In conclusion, Callakoppen wished CMA all the best for 2021 and beyond. ‘The Comrades is such an iconic and proudly South African event and we are very proud to have been part of the journey for all these years.’