Channelle Makhele: The Best Comeback at Comrades 2024

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When Channelle Makhele crossed the finish line in 9:28:20 at this year’s Comrades she knocked a massive 2h15 minutes off her debut run in 2019. Whilst this is an impressive achievement, it was only good enough to earn her 124th position on the most improved list. However, it’s her response to her DNF in 2023 that earns her the accolade of best comeback at Comrades 2024.

Channelle’s 2023 run is documented here: The Nightmare on Epworth Street (Safety negligence at Comrades breaks bones and shatters dreams). Her run ended before the 5km mark on the Nightmare on Epworth Street with a badly fractured fibula. Not realising the seriousness of her injury, and in an incredible feat of sheer bloody-mindedness, Channelle refused to throw in the towel and decided to try and walk to Durban. She got as far as the Fat Cats seconding crew at Umlaas Road (24km into the race) before calling it a day and ended up spending the night in hospital.

Last year I left Channelle’s story at, “One major operation later to realign the joint and put in a plate and screws, and Channelle faced six weeks before she even gets to the start line on the long road to recovery and rehabilitation.”  Here’s what happened next…

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Sign Up to the CMA Today or The Grim Racist could be your next Chairperson

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On the 18th of June Comrades Board member Zinhle Sokhela posted a blatantly racist message to the official Comrades Corporate Governance WhatsApp group. Sokhela was immediately asked to resign from the Board but requested the opportunity to ‘go away and think about it’. She thought about it, had a few shouting matches with other Board members and said ‘no thanks I’m staying put’. She was apparently more concerned with who had reported her indiscretion than the indiscretion itself.

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What’s New & Improved at Comrades 2024?

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As someone who had plenty to say about what went wrong at Comrades 2023, it gives me great pleasure to write an article about what’s going right at Comrades 2024.

Much of the credit for the positive changes can be attributed to newly appointed Race & Operations Manager, Ann Ashworth, who left her career as an advocate to take up the position in November 2023. Under her leadership there’s renewed energy, innovation and an attention to detail that has been lacking for many years.

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Giving Comrades plenty of Greeff

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Comrades is an event that involves the whole family. For most it is just one member of the family that is actually running but the entire family will have their routines and social activities rescheduled around their Comrades runner’s requirements. In households with kids where both partners run, careful coordination, negotiation and planning is required to ensure that everyone gets in enough distance to secure a medal in June.

However, for some families it’s not just weddings and funerals that brings them together. For these families, Comrades becomes a big day out and a fantastic family outing. Mark, Kathleen, Matthew, Daniel and Joshua Greeff are one such family.

The Greeff family after the Trac N4 Elands Marathon (note Mark’s 1990 Comrades shirt which he only brings out for special occasions).
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Comrades 2024: Polly Shortts cutoff likely to kill the dreams of hundreds

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The good news is that we’ll see runners on the field during the last minute before cutoff this year. The bad news is that we’ll still be a few hundred runners short of a full field.

After the cutoff debacle at Comrades 2023, the Comrades 2024 cutoffs were always going to come under scrutiny. When the original Comrades 2024 cutoffs were published, several people pointed out some serious potential flaws. It was encouraging to see that new Race and Operations Manager, Ann Ashworth, listened to the feedback and took them back for review.

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Kloppers Marathon (and overcoming my Afrikaans angst)

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[MARATHON #260 / UNIQUE MARATHON #156 / 10 February 2024]

Afrikaans was never my strongpoint. Afrikaans teachers and I regarded each other with mutual contempt throughout my school career. One of them even banged her head on the desk in exasperation when she realised that my younger brother was in her class during his first roll call in standard 6. Let’s just say that my free-spirited schoolboy antics did not blend well with the strict (and sometimes sadistic) ethos of the average Afrikaans onderwyser.

Perhaps it is the psychological scarring I endured on the top floor of Rondebosch Boys High (I think they put the Afrikaans bloc there so that the other classes would not be disturbed by the screams) that has resulted in a subliminal avoidance of Bloemfontein marathons. To date I have just one credit, the OFM Music Marathon (which has not taken place since Covid) in the City of Roses. Therefore, I decided to face my fears and take my running shoes into the domain where Englishmen fear to tread by entering the Kloppers Marathon.

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The Running Mann’s Guide to March 2024 Marathons

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This article provides detailed information on all South Africa’s March 2024 marathons including race descriptions and recommendations. You can find the full 2024 marathon / ultra calendar here.

A summary of your choices is below:

Click to expand. (Note: Mapungubwe and Festival of Running Marathons confirmed after publication)
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