4. History

The Comrades Marathon story is long.

It’s one of the race results: the winners and placers and how they raced; and the finishers.

It’s also a story of the evolution of an event from it’s esoteric origins to a significant human event that holds the attention of a nation and more. This story is of the changes, challenges and issues to which the runners, organisers and nation had to respond.

Equally it’s a story of a profound idea realised in sweat ache and glory.

As much as any of these the history of the Comrades Marathon lies in the stories of the people of the Comrades Marathon. How the event crept into and, in one or other way, enriched their lives.

The recorded history of the Comrades Marathon is in the records of the organisers and owners of the event; in newspapers mainly the dailies in Pietermaritzburg and Durban mainly the Mercury, Witness and Daily News; in the books The Comrades Story, its successor Comrades Marathon: the Ultimate Human Race and other books about the Comrades Marathon such as Tom Cotterels year book; in the numerous publications (newspapers, magazine, brochures) of the race.

Most stories though, perhaps the weight of the Comrade’s greatness are unpublished, told and retold at dinner tables, in workplaces, running clubs and in the dreams of those involved in the event.

Read here a election of anecdotes and stories of the Comrades Marathon.

Resources and books worth looking at for a insight into the history and evolution of the Comrades Marathon:


Alexander, Morris The Comrades Marathon Story, 2nd Edition, Juta, 1976

Cotterell, Tom; Laxton, Ian; Lombard, Larry Comrades Marathon Year Book, Southern Book Publishers, 1998

Cotterell, Tom; Williams, David; Laxton, Ian Comrades Marathon: highlights and heroes, 1921-1999 J. Ball Publishers ; Parklands : Guide Book Publications, 2000.

Cameron-Dow, John Comrades Marathon The Ultimate Human Event, Special Edition,Penguin Books, 2011


The Official Comrades Marathon website: www.comrades.com

The Runners Guide website: http://www.runnersguide.co.za/Races/ComradesCorner/