Well… so far so good. April was a little mad, particularly as the Office finalised our entry substitution process, our elite athlete line-up and began placing orders for all our race day requirements. For the large part our planning is now complete; it’s all about the execution.

I’m aware that the Office has been dropping hints about a few of the new innovations runners and spectators may expect to see on race day. Those changes will soon be revealed as we start to send out our new and improved final race instructions.

For the first time in 2024, and in an effort to ensure that each and every participant in the event is provided with all the information they require in an easy-to-use and accessible format, the CMA has given instruction for the production of a Final Race Instruction Video. This video will replace the hard copy paper inserts into each runner’s goodie bag, an item we know very few participants read through before race day.

As we go increasingly “green” the CMA is cutting down on the amount of paper we use and going paperless. In our modern day and predominantly electronic society it makes sense to turn these paper-based instructions into a video clip that can be streamed, downloaded and shared easily amongst all participants.

This year, the Final Race Instruction Video will be made available in English and Zulu. Over time we hope to be able to include translations and voice overs in all official languages.

In direct response to the feedback the CMA received from members at the Annual General Meeting held in November 2023, significant improvements have been made to Green Number Club catering and hospitality at the finish. Erica Neff and Esme van Dyk will be going out of their way to ensure that all members of the Green Number Club are well fed and looked after post-race and that there are a number of Local Legends available to assist with the handing over of badges to new recipients.

This year we have approximately 2600 green number athletes taking part in the race. In addition, there are 632 runners running their 10th, 20th, 30th, 40th or 50th Comrades Marathon.

Significant improvements have also been made to the International (and ROA) athlete hospitality area. On the basis of feedback received from participants in the race in 2023, we have increased the quantity of local beer available at the International Tent (many thanks to Bavaria and Signal Hill Breweries for stepping up to the plate) and the food being provided to runners after the event.

In addition, the layout and setup of the International hospitality this year will be spectacular. Durban Tourism and the eThekwini Municipality have planned quite the extravaganza for their guests and I have #nodoubt that this year’s race experience will be one our international athletes will never forget.

Participants this year may also expect to see BIG changes at the start. As phase one of a four-year plan working towards the 100th running of the race in 2027, the CMA is testing out new ideas and innovations to improve each participants race experience.

Over the next four years these innovations could include the introduction of a pre-race pasta party, a post-race Medal Monday event, a shake-out run, a charity fundraiser, an international dinner and, potentially, the hosting of shorter or fun run events before the main race. I would also like to upgrade the finish and the ambiance of the final-cut off.

Cognisant of the fact that the average age of participants in the event is 42 years; the CMA needs to ensure that it is able to motivate, inspire and attract younger people to the race… and to keep those athletes coming back. This will only be possible if we are able to create an experience at least equivalent to, if not better than, the World Major Marathons.

Going forward we hope to draw ideas from these major international events to ensure that the Comrades Marathon remains a highlight on the national and international road racing calendar.

The 1st of May marks the start of my seventh month as the Race and Operations Manager of the CMA. It also signals the beginning of the end of my nine-month contract. I was appointed by the CMA to fulfil this role on a temporary basis pending the outcome of a formal job advertisement and interview process for the replacement of the previous Race and Operations Manager.

It has been an absolute privilege being able to serve the CMA this past while and the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to contribute towards the future growth and development of the race. I do feel as though I have made a difference in the short time that I have been here, and I do think that the CMA is now chartering an exciting path towards a new and improved future. I look forward to this last big push towards race day and to seeing all our dreams become a reality on 9 June.