Obituary – Tana Manser


She was a familiar sight in the Comrades Medical Facility for twenty years, diligently assisting Dr Jeremy Boulter as his second in command with all things medical, helping plan and implement medical protocols, organising the stretcher bearers which numbered around 100 as well taking responsibility for about 15 nurses, in addition to carrying out a host of administrative functions required in the medical portfolio. Most importantly, she was committed to serving every athlete who ended up in the Medical Tent on race day, which averaged around 600.


Tana Manser has been described as one of those true unsung heroes, someone who was unflappable, enthusiastic, responsive and all-round positive, hence it is with a heavy heart that the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) notes the passing of a volunteering great, especially at a terrible time in global history with so much of suffering and loss all around us. She was 51 years old.


Those who had the pleasure of having worked with Tana and got to know her speak of her willingness, cheerfulness, calm disposition, compassion and general compatibility. She gave generously of her time, her smiles and her efforts.


Tana worked as a paramedic by profession, employed in the provincial ambulance service and in later years, joined the Howick Association for the Aged (HADCA). She came on board as a volunteer at The Ultimate Human Race in 1999 where she initially assisted the Medical Rescue International (MRI) which managed the ambulance facility at the Comrades Marathon at the time.


After 2 years at the Comrades Medical Facility, specifically in charge of the ambulance control centre at the JOC, she became an all-rounder and co-convenor, under the supervision of Dr Boulter.


Tana served as the second in command in the Medical portfolio for the ensuing 18 years, having been involved in all aspects of it, and often being the go-to person due to her approachability and friendliness.


Tana’s two decades of volunteerism ended in 2019 after she became ill.


Comrades Medical Convenor, Dr Boulter says, “Tana was super-efficient, unflappable, always smiling, always quick to respond and nothing was too much trouble for her. She had a pleasant personality and I will always remember her as cheerful, optimistic, caring and helpful. We will miss her. Our thoughts are with her son, Michael.”


CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn says, “Tana maintained a constant, humble and reliable presence over her 20 years of Comrades volunteerism. She was of a quiet but diligent nature who epitomised the spirit of the Comrades Marathon in her selfless and steadfast ways. Her contribution to the Comrades Marathon will long be remembered and her absence on race day will be greatly felt. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and everyone who knew her.”


CMA General Manager, Keletso Totlhanyo says, “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Tana. She showcased the true Comrades spirit with her two decades of volunteerism in the Medical Tent. She no doubt inspired many others with her selflessness and determination to help others. May her soul rest in peace.”


CMA Race Director, Rowyn James says, “Tana was the quiet, unassuming one on the Race Organising Committee, yet she always got the job done with minimal fuss in her support towards the Race Doctor and Medical Portfolio. I always knew that whatever she had committed to undertaking or getting done regarding the race and her portfolio would be delivered on. She will be missed.”


Former CMA Chairperson, Peter Proctor says, “Having worked with Tana over many years at the Finish of the Comrades Marathon, I can wholeheartedly say that it was always a pleasure to go to the Medical Tent to be greeted by her cheerful smiling face. She was a breath of fresh air and always a pleasure to talk to. Tana will be sadly missed by all at Comrades, be they runners, helpers, spectators and most of all by her fellow Medical Team in the Medical Tent. Tana was not only efficient in what she did but always willing to lend a hand, give a word of encouragement or there to console a panicking supporter. My condolences to all her family. Tana, you will be sadly missed but you will never be forgotten.”


SABC Head of Sport, Gary Rathbone says, “We are so sorry to hear about Tana’s passing. I’m sure I speak for all at SABC Sport in offering our sincere condolences to her family and to the Comrades Team where she will be sorely missed.”


Comrades Finish Procedure Convenor, Alain Dalais, “Tana was such a fun, jovial lady to be around during Comrades race month. Everyone is usually very busy and taking strain in the build up to race day, yet Tana would always have a smile on her face and a witty comment to share. For the past few years, I would look for Tana and Dr Boulter at the CMA Catering Tent after the final gun has sounded on race day, and we would chat about all the action that took place on the day whilst enjoying cold beverages and a good braai. Tana, the Comrades Finish Procedure team will miss you on race day, and I will miss you even more. Rest well my friend, you were strong to the end!” 


CMA Elder, Poobie Naidoo says, “Tana was always positive, kind and easy going with a huge passion and love for the Comrades Marathon. Pat and I send our deepest sympathies and condolences to Tana’s family and friends. May the Almighty give them courage and strength during this sad time.”


Former CMA Chairperson, Jeff Minnaar says, “What can I say! Tana was the most wonderful lady to work with, always a lovely smile on her face even under the most trying times. Tana brought relief to you when you were stressing just by her presence. May you rest in peace my dear friend; your shoes will be hard to fill. My condolences go out to her family.”


CMA Museum Curator, Roxanne Thomas says, “Tana went above and beyond in her dedication of time and effort to serve the Comrades Marathon. She was ever so helpful and kind and had such an appreciation for us office staff, it was admirable. You have served the Comrades well Tana. May you rest in peace.”


Comrades Finish Venue Convenor, Chris Lombard says, “On behalf of the Finish Venue Portfolio, I would just like to say that we will miss Tana very much. She was such a great person to work with at the Medical Tent and our relationship was a pleasure as she always gave of her best and never complained. May her soul rest in peace and condolences to her family.”