The Interesting History of the Comrades Marathon

Everything about the Comrades Marathon screams endurance. Even the way the race came into being called for the kind of perseverance that is now synonymous with the race.

Today it is well-known that Vic Clapham created the race after the First World War. What is perhaps less well-known is that the race would not have got off the ground without Clapham’s high levels of endurance, determination and stamina.

For nearly four years he petitioned local athletics authorities and ‘The Comrades of The Great War’ association, a group set up to represent the rights of returning or discharged soldiers, to endorse the ‘Comrades Marathon’.

After unsuccessful attempts in 1918, 1919 and 1920, Clapham was eventually loaned R2 and received the blessing of The Comrades of The Great War to name his event the Comrades Marathon. 

Now, 96 years and 92 races later, the Comrades Marathon is as famous for its race day camaraderie as it is for the mighty distance that runners are required to cover. That’s why the Old Mutual Spirit of Comrades Awards was launched, to highlight the spirit of a race that is embodied by the camaraderie, selflessness, dedication, and perseverance of runners. Every year the awards recognise three participants who best showcase these qualities. The winners for 2017 have not been announced yet.

This year the Comrades Marathon was won by South African, Bongmusa Mthembu, who also won the race in 2014 and finished in third place in 2016.

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