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Comrades Marathon cancelled for second straight year

The storied South African ultramarathon will miss its 100th anniversary run after getting called off yet again

Comrades marathon

The Comrades Marathon has officially been cancelled for the second year in a row. Organizers of the famed South African ultramarathon announced the cancellation on Wednesday, once again forced into this decision by the pandemic. The Comrades Marathon is set to turn 100 this year, but that milestone won’t get a proper celebration in the form of a race until at least 2022, the 101st year of the run’s existence. 

In their cancellation notice, organizers wrote that the decision was both “moral and practical.” The ongoing second wave of the pandemic, the newly discovered and more infectious variants of COVID-19 and the “impending third wave” that many expect to see in the spring all add up to make hosting a mass participation race like Comrades extremely difficult. 

RELATED: Canadian results from the Comrades Marathon virtual races

The decision to cancel this year comes much sooner than last year’s announcement. With the race traditionally run in June, organizers first postponed their event in April 2020 and then cancelled it altogether in May. While Comrades officials were reportedly considering moving the ultramarathon to late September of this year, it has become more and more clear that events of this size (Comrades hosts more than 25,000 runners) are unlikely to go ahead at all in 2021.

Organizers wrote that they figured it would be better to cancel and focus on 2022 rather than holding onto hope and moving forward with a race this year, only to have it cancelled once again just weeks before the race date. 

While there won’t be an in-person event to celebrate 100 years of the Comrades Marathon, there will be another virtual event this year. Officials introduced the virtual runs in 2020, and they were a massive success. In total, more than 43,000 people from around the world entered the virtual runs, and in addition to the 90K traditionally raced at Comrades, participants could choose to race 5K, 10K, 21K and 45K as well.

RELATED: The nine medals you can win at the Comrades Marathon

According to the cancellation announcement, other 100th anniversary celebrations will be held for the Comrades Marathon, starting on May 24, 100 years to the day after the very first running of the event in 1921. More information is expected to be released in the coming weeks regarding these celebrations and the virtual races.