Athletic : Comrades Marathon Gives Back to South Africa

Athletic : Comrades Marathon Gives Back to South Africa

More than two decades ago, the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) embarked on an endeavour to harness the positive energy and goodwill generated by ‘The Ultimate Human Race’ to benefit South Africa’s charitable sector. 

The CMA officially handed over the funds raised from the 2017 Comrades Marathon to its six official charities today (Wednesday, 2 August 2017). The officially recognised Comrades Amabeadibeadi charities are the Durban & Pietermaritzburg Community Chests, PinkDrive, Sports Trust, Starfish, Wildlands and World Vision SA, who through the Comrades Marathon’s fundraising platform and their own efforts, raised nearly R4-million.

This amount includes R460-thousand in direct voluntary donations from runners with their entries. R2,5-million was raised through the Race4Charity initiative whereby runners commit themselves to raising funds for the charity of their choice. A further R100-thousand was raised through Amabeadibeadi and other charitable sales as well as R1-million as a result of the individual charities own initiatives.

The CMA’s two top Race4Charity fundraisers were Tracy Bamber and Stefan Muller who raised just over R73-thousand for Starfish and Community Chests respectively, followed by Teresa Wilson at R53-thousand for PinkDrive. The CMA’s very own Mike Cowling raised an amazing R50-thousand on the occasion of completing his 40th Comrades Marathon, also for the Community Chest.

World Vision’s most celebrated fundraiser was Roger Comish who raised R41-thousand while both Bridget Hunter and Noeleen McCallum each raised R26-thousand for Wildlands, and our own CMA Board Member Adrian Stowell rounded off the top 10 fundraisers, raising R25-thousand for the Community Chest.

Well done and a huge thank you to each and every one of our Race4Charity runners.  We salute you for combining your personal passion with a purpose.

CMA Vice Chairperson, Cheryl Winn said, “This Comrades Charities handover marks the closing chapters of the 2017 Comrades Marathon and an occasion which is very dear to our hearts – the one on which we, who are the recipients of so much generosity and goodwill from the people of South Africa, celebrate the opportunity for us to give something back to the communities and environment in which the Comrades Marathon is so blessed to exist through our Amabeadibeadi Official Charity initiative.”

Winn adds, “Each and every one of us has within ourselves the potential to be an example, even if in a miniscule seemingly insignificant way.  Even small acts of individual kindness and giving can be enough to influence society to become warmer, closer and more caring for one another. You never know when an act of yours, whether kind words, even good manners or small offerings could leave a deeply influential impression that motivates others to do good.”

CMA Chairperson, Sifiso Nzuza said, “We would like to thank our official charities who perform the amazing work that they do in bettering the social and environmental landscape of South Africa. From small beginnings more than twenty years ago, the CMA’s charitable endeavours have gradually born fruit, to the extent that over the past 10 years we have enabled our designated official Comrades charities to benefit to the tune of R30-million through the generosity of our runners, sponsors, supporters and the general public. We are grateful to you all.”

With the CMA being a non-profit organisation affiliated to Athletics South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal Athletics, it is bound by its respective constitutions to use surplus funds derived out of the staging of the Comrades Marathon to invest in projects directly related to the development, upliftment and promotion of the sport of athletics.

In this vein, the CMA designates its own CSI projects including the Old Mutual Underprivileged Runners Project, whereby 800 underprivileged runners are hosted on the night prior to and after the Comrades Marathon, providing them with a warm place to sleep, breakfast, supper and transportation, thus easing the financial burden and enabling them to participate in the world’s most famous ultra-marathon.

The CMA also supports its provincial athletics structure. During the past year, it has contributed towards the purchase of electronic timing equipment, as well as the hosting and funding of a technical officials course, at which 40 new technical officials were able to qualify, 9 of whom were from the Maritzburg Disabled Club.

An ongoing CSI project is the CMA’s annual sponsorship and staging of the Greater Edendale Race which celebrated its 10th anniversary in November 2016; and which has been designated to host the KZN 10km Championships later this year.

The CMA is also currently in the process of erecting an Outdoor Gym on the Durban beachfront similar to the one that was donated to Msunduzi Municipality last year.  The sod-turning ceremony for the Durban beachfront Outdoor Gym was performed by CMA Chairperson, Sifiso Nzuza and eThekwini Mayor, Zandile Gumede during Comrades week and is planned to be up and available for use by the public within the next few months.

Nzuza said, “As the CMA, we are focused on contributing to the upliftment of society and the advancement of road running in South Africa. The Comrades Marathon is a national asset that belongs to every South African and we aim to benefit as many people through our charitable endeavours and input into skills transfer and other meaningful ways.”