The Comrades Marathon Underprivileged Runners Project started more than 20 years ago. For many years, runners who could not afford accommodation would sleep outside at the start the night before the race.  These runners slept under trees and on benches near the start in Pietermaritzburg and Durban so that they could just be part of the Ultimate Human Race.


This was obviously not acceptable to the CMA as some of these runners became easy targets to the elements such as crime and cold weather, so the CMA initiated a programme whereby runners could apply to be housed; fed and transported.


That saw the birth of the Comrades Marathon Underprivileged Runners Project. This project seeks to provide ordinary South Africans, potential champions, male or female, young or old, anyone who’s willing, with the opportunity to travel to KwaZulu-Natal to run the Comrades Marathon – to experience the courage, the spirit, the adrenalin and the pride! 


With the benevolence of the Comrades Marathon sponsors this project has been kept alive and has grown in leaps and bounds every year with an average of 600 runners benefiting from it annually.


The venue for the Underprivileged Runners Programme is the YMCA in Pietermaritzburg. Runners will be accommodated for two nights, 13 June and 14 June 2020.


Planning for this programme is a mammoth task.  Preparation starts in January and entails the recruitment of reliable volunteers, identification of potential sponsors and suppliers of food, drinks, mattresses, blankets, security personnel and transport for the runners. Implementation of the project is made possible through the assistance of volunteers associated with the Pietermaritzburg Community Chest.


After the event, the CMA donates the blankets and mattresses to various charity organisations in Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas.


The CMA also depends on the benevolence of its major sponsor, Bonitas Medical Fund, other sponsors like Thirsti Water which provides bottled water and Isofit sports drinks; and partners like Premier Foods, which sponsors maize meal, bread and BB Squares to nourish the athletes over race weekend.


For more information, please contact Sifiso Mngoma on email: