Comrades Marathon: It all began 24 May 1921…

Comrades Marathon: 1 June 2014

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

The first Comrades Marathon in South Africa took place on 24. May 1921, which was then the Empire Day, starting just outside the CityHall in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.  A total of 34 runners took place in this very first Comrades Marathon. Since then, this famous race has continued every year with the exception of the war years 1941-1945.  The direction of the marathon changes annually between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, the so called ‘up and down runs’.  The Comrades Marathon race will be run this year on Sunday, 1 June, starting at 5h30 am and finishing at 5h30 pm / 17h30.

Comrades Marathon South Africa


At the end of the world war in 1918, the dead numbered almost 10 million. In this war of only four years, far more people died than in all the wars 100 years previously. Therefore, associations such as the ‘League of Comrades of the Great War’ were started, to provide assistance to families who were torn apart by the cruelties of war, but also for the soldiers to rekindle the camaraderie shared on the battlefield.Comrades Marathon, South Africa

A soldier and dreamer, who was stationed in East Africa during the war approached the ‘League of Comrades of the Great War’ with a vision that would result in the worlds greatest ultra marathon eighty years later. Little could Vic Clapham have visualized that when he founded the “Comrades Marathon” in the year 1921, that one day about twenty thousand aspiring athletes from all over the world would stand at the start of his dream race in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Comrades Marathon, South Africa

After he returned back home to South Africa, Clapham approached the athletics heirachy in Natal with his vision. A running race between the cities of Pietermaritzburg, his hometown, and Durban. Clapham had heard of a “Stock exchange Walk” which ran from London to Brighton, a similar distance. He felt that if infantrymen, drafted into the armed forces from sedentary jobs, could endure forced marches over great distances, trained athletes could cover the distance between the two cities without great difficulty.

Comrades Marathon, South Africa


Are you planning to be part of the Comrades Marathon in South Africa this year?  Contact us for accommodation at the centrally located City Lodge Durban Hotel.

South African Tourism Company

Tel:    +27 (0)21 794 9050

Mobile: +27 (0)827 823 142

Fax:    +27 (0)21 794 9995




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