Superb performances, national records, PBs and finally a medal – all that was missing from the World Athletics Road Running Championship in Riga was the South African flag.
If anyone was wondering about the missing flag, it was banned from display because South Africa is no longer WADA compliant. From what I understand, every country in the world except South Africa and Bermuda have managed to update their doping legislation to be compliant. Whether this is another failure of our Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, tardiness from SAIDS, some of the “lazy blazers” within sports administration being asleep at the wheel or a combination of all three is unclear.
On the 4th of December 2022, Kwazulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) took the unprecedented step of issuing a media statement dismissing rumours of positive doping results at the 2022 Comrades Marathon. Prior to the media release, I had personally been told to expect the imminent announcement that a South African female gold medallist would be disqualified for doping.
The 94th Comrades Marathon and 48th Up Run was held on 9 June 2019. This is a stat by stat account of the Men’s Elite section of the race – with a few anecdotal interludes thrown in to break the statistical monotony.
The Comrades Marathon is a lot like a nasty big brother that sadistically bullies, torments and tortures his weaker siblings. As one of those weaker siblings, I’ve received more than my fair share of merciless moers, violent lammies and vicious donkey klaps at the annual family reunion between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. I feel this entitles me to have an opinion and say what I like about Comrades – and occasionally I repay my serial brutalisation with a playful retort or gentle jab of my own (before running away, slowly). That is the God-given right of a ‘family’ member*.
* For example, one of the article ideas on my backlog is ’10 Things I Hate about Comrades’ but the list of things has grown so long it may in fact form the content of my first full-length book.
However, when someone outside the ‘family’ callously condescends your brutal big brother, all past grievances are forgotten, all past sins are forgiven, and all the scars and bruises from past battles become prized signs of affection. When someone outside the circle of trust insults a member of one’s household, the correct response is to immediately – and without hesitation – take up arms (or in the case of Comrades, legs) to defend the family honour. That is exactly what happened recently when the insolent, ill-informed and ignorant American ultra runner Jim Walmsley condescended Comrades with a reckless remark. Continue reading “Drug Running at Comrades (and discrediting American ignorance)”