The World Famous Comrades Marathon is Canceled – It Would Have Been the 100th Anniversary

Written by Charlie

The Comrades Marathon has been canceled for the second year in a row – and in the year that would have been the 100th anniversary. But, the virtual race is on!

While the marathon distance is a race of 26.2 miles, there is one race that has taken liberty with that definition – and that is ok. The heralded Comrades Marathon in South Africa is a huge draw to thousands of runners each year who toe the line knowing that this is now a regular “marathon” but is instead 90km (55.9 miles) long (approx. more on that below). It is a hugely popular race and now, for the second year in a row, it has been canceled.

Comrades Marathon Canceled In Its 100th Anniversary Year

Link: Official Comrades Marathon Statement

Last year was the first time since World War II that this race had been canceled and now it is canceled for the second year in a row. This is in response to an imminent third wave in South Africa that is expected starting in April this year. With the Comrades Marathon being held in June and the so-called “South African variant” of the virus proving to be even more contagious than the original Covid-19 virus, it has forced organizers to cancel the event.

This approximately 55 mile race is unique in another way as well. This is a point-to-point course that makes its way between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. I say “between” because it actually changes direction each year. When it starts from Durban, it is called the “up” race as it climbs and is a little shorter than 90km and when it starts from Pietermaritzburg (as it was to have this year), it is called the “down” race and is 90km.

Virtual Marathon is a Go for 2021

The medals from the virtual Comrades Marathon last year

Like they did last year, the Comrades Marathon committee will be opening up the event for virtual runs that will take place on June 13. Last year, over 43,000 runners signed up to do various distances from 5km all the way up to the official 90km and earned a medal.

This year, they will open it up for a virtual marathon event again. It will have to be run on June 13 – registration is not open yet but I will post it here when it is.

Here are the distances that will be available to be run:

  • 5km
  • 10km
  • 21km
  • 45km
  • 90km

Incidentally, the 45km distance is around 3km (less than 2 miles longer) than an official marathon distance of 26.2 miles. So, you could pick that one if you wanted close to an actual marathon distance. Last year, the cost was $25 for foreign runners.


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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.