“Many of you are familiar with the story of how the Comrades Marathon began with the dream and tireless efforts of a humble railway man, turned soldier, Vic Clapham, who returned from war with the vision of staging a living memorial to the suffering, loss of life, spirit, fortitude and camaraderie of the soldiers with whom he had experienced the devastation of World War 1. 

Perhaps less familiar is a decision taken at a CMA Annual General Meeting in the early 1990’s, that henceforth the Comrades Marathon would be dedicated to the spirit and memory of protagonists in all conflicts in which South Africans have made sacrifices, including the struggle for democracy in South Africa.

This is reflected on one of the plaques just unveiled on the Comrades Centenary Monument this morning. And it is one of the ways in which generations of Comrades leaders have at times taken valiant decisions that have enabled the race to remain relevant in a contemporary context, while also remaining true to its heritage.

Today, as we in South Africa and indeed the world engage in an invisible war of an entirely different kind, it is perhaps fitting to reflect that the values of grit, determination, sacrifice, courage, hope, humanity and endurance upon which the Comrades Marathon was founded, are still relevant today. 

And, it is the reason we chose to reflect on the Centenary Monument just unveiled, both the soldiers associated with the origins of the race and the heroic health care workers depicting the battle being waged against the pandemic which precluded the staging of the race in our 100th year.” – CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn in her speech at the Comrades Centenary Celebrations gala event on 24 May 2021

Watch the Comrades Centenary Celebration livestream broadcast here:

Other Comrades Marathon videos and previous race broadcasts are on YouTube.

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