“We don’t really work for awards; but when they come, we appreciate the acknowledgement!”

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has scooped the Innovation Award at the recently hosted KwaZulu-Natal Sport Awards in Durban.

Upon receiving the award at the gala event, CMA Vice Chairperson, Mqondisi Ngcobo said, “A recognition of our event and our brand by government and other influential opinion makers in the sporting industry is significant. At a time when we were confronted with a deadly pandemic which led to the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 Comrades Marathons, we held onto hope.”

“More than that, we kept abreast with innovation and what technology could offer us, and pivoted to virtual events by hosting two incredibly successful events, Race the Comrades Legends and the Comrades Centenary Hope Challenge which united runners across the world and ensured that the spirit of Comrades was alive and well.”

In line with the National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP), the KZN Sport Awards recognizes the province’s talented sportsmen, sportswomen and overall sporting excellence.

The new award category, the Innovation Award, has been introduced for the first time for the 2021 Awards. This category focuses on innovative ideas implemented during the awards qualification period that was largely affected by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department recognizes that innovation is key in the delivery of sport and recreation, particularly in a COVID-19 environment.

CMA General Manager, Keletso Totlhanyo welcomed the awarding of the Innovation accolade to the Comrades Marathon, saying, “Being presented with the KZN Sport Award is a huge vote of confidence in our race and brand. We are incredibly appreciative to the whole team at Comrades who must take the credit for these achievements. Team Comrades worked incredibly hard at making a success of our virtual events, Race the Comrades Legends last year and the Comrades Centenary Hope Challenge this year. These proved to be among the world’s most successful virtual sporting events since the onset of COVID-19.”

CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn said, “We value the confidence that the Department of Sport and Recreation as well as the sporting fraternity at large has shown in the CMA. We are grateful to everyone who has supported the Comrades Marathon and contributed to this world-class, award-winning event of ours, both in good times and in such a period of a global epidemic that we are now facing. We would also like to congratulate all the other sportsmen, sportswomen, media and other individuals, teams and events who scooped the top honours in the KZN Sport Awards. You are all winners and we celebrate you.”

The KZN Sport Award for Innovation is the latest feather in the cap for the Comrades Marathon. The world’s biggest, oldest and most famous ultramarathon boasts a string of top accolades, including the Sport Industry Awards in 2012 for Best Mass Participation Award and again in 2016 for the categories of Sport Brand of the Year and Sport Participation Event of the Year. The Comrades Marathon is also recognized by the Guinness World Records for the most finishers in an ultramarathon and the AIMS Award for being Africa’s oldest marathon and ultramarathon.