The Comrades Marathon: India has highest number of foreign entrants in S Africa’s premier race

Johannesburg, May 25 (PTI): India has the highest number of foreign entries in the prestigious Comrades Marathon to be run between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban in South Africa on June 11.

Organisers said that of the 2,354 international runners from 84 countries that have entered this year’s Comrades Marathon, the lion’s share of athletes are from India, with 403 entries.

Neighbouring Zimbabwe is second with 255, the UK next with 224, the US with 173, and Brazil with 142 runners.

“We are pleased with the large number of international entrants in this year’s Comrades Marathon. There is no doubt that this is a truly international event,” Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) Race Director, Rowyn James, said.

“As usual, we offer a very warm South African welcome to athletes and their families from around the world who will be here to share in the spirit and camaraderie of The Ultimate Human Race,” said the race director.

The 96th Comrades Marathon will be a ‘Down Run’ on Sunday, June 11 this year, starting at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall at 5 hours and 30 minutes and ending 12 hours later at the Kingsmead Stadium in Durban.

The route distance of the 48th Comrades Down Run is 87.701 kilometres.

The start of the race alternates each year between the two cities, ‘Down Run’ referring to the route from inland Pietermaritzburg to the coastal city of Durban.

The Comrades, which is the world’s oldest and largest ultra-marathon, resumed last year after a two-year hiatus forced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2020, CMA organised a ‘Comrades Marathon’ virtual race, to replace the gruelling annual 90-kilometre ultramarathon that had been scheduled for that year between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

It had to be called off because of the pandemic, but 40,000 entries were received from 86 countries for the virtual race.

India had the sixth-highest number of entries in that virtual race after Brazil, the UK, the US, Australia, Zimbabwe and the host nation South Africa.

Participants had to challenge the times of the best athletes on the national and international ultra-running circuit, including former Comrades Marathon winners and gold medallists.

The city of Pietermaritzburg is where young lawyer Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was thrown off a train because the compartment he was in was reserved for whites only.

The incident sparked his opposition to discrimination in both South Africa and India, eventually gaining him the title of Mahatma.

The large number of local Indians in the city said they welcomed their Indian cousins, who often also spent time visiting the memorial sites to Gandhi in Pietermaritzburg.

“We find them coming in increasing numbers every year, especially when the race starts in Pietermaritzburg. Many come here early and we see them in our streets training, sometimes in the hours before dawn,” said Yasmin Saanglae, a local businesswoman and community worker.

“They always enjoy our hospitality as much as we enjoy having them here,” Saanglae added. PTI FH PY PY PY

(This story is published as part of the auto-generated syndicate wire feed. No editing has been done in the headline or the body by ABP Live.)

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