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A Brief History of the Comrades Marathon

A Brief History of the Comrades Marathon

This story was updated on 6 June 2019.

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, 98 years and 94 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.

This year’s Comrades Marathon takes place on Sunday, 9 June.

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