May 2018 2nd Edition

This month in history

The first Comrades Marathon takes place

On 24 May, 1921, World War I veteran Vic Clapham and 34 others ran the first Comrades Marathon. Clapham initiated the run to remember those who had fallen in the war, by undertaking the ultimate test of body and mind and triumphing.

Sixteen runners completed the 87.9km race from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in KwaZulu-Natal. According to Sian Theron from the Comrades Marathon Association the race was won by Bill Rowan, who finished in a time of 8 hours and 59 minutes. His name was given to the sub nine-hour medal in today's race.

The first medal awarded in 1921 was a silver medal, which was given to all finishers of the event up until 1931. An exception to this rule was a special bronze medal awarded to L. E. W. Pearson, who struggled to finish the race but completed the distance in a time of 12 hours and 20 minutes in 1921.

In recent years the race was held on 16 June but after complaints received stated that the race detracted from Youth Day celebrations, the date was changed in 2006 to a Sunday in the middle of June. The Comrades Marathon is the most popular road race in South Africa.

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