(Photo : The New Age)
COMRADES MARATHON AND FESTIVAL OF SPEED
Pietermaritzburg was the centre of two world class sporting events on the weekend. The first was the Festival Of Speed on Saturday (where the best juvenile colts and fillies and the best male and female older sprinters get their opportunities to run at Group One level,) the other the time-honoured Comrades Marathon, the most famous and the most gruelling long distance race in the world.
The one involves blistering speed, the other stamina and endurance, and both stood up to their billing. Our blogger, Michael Nefdt, has already provided this column’s fans with the video evidence of what took place at Scottsville racecourse, but it’s worth mentioning that Stephen Muzhingi, a localised Zimbabwean, joined what only five others have achieved in history, and that was his third consecutive Comrades victory. It was an energy-sapping day, and times were a little slower than usual, but this was a tribute to the man’s courage, endurance and his raw talent. For a long time, the Comrades was dominated by East European and Russian runners, but Africa has had a sustained run for several years now, and the encouraging thing was that there were seven South Africans among the Gold medals this weekend.
The Pietermaritzburg environ is host to three unique world class events, the first of which is the Dusi Canoe Marathon, which takes place in January, the Midmar Mile in March (the biggest swim in the world,) and then of course, the Comrades Marathon, some achievement for what must appear to the world as a “village” by population numbers, notwithstanding its status as the provincial capital of KwaZulu Natal.