Na­tional trea­sure

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

BY ALL ac­counts, it was an­other glo­ri­ous chap­ter in the long and proud history of the Com­rades, a sport­ing event that is loved as much across our coun­try as any other. More than 16 000 run­ners lined up at the Dur­ban City Hall yes­ter­day for the start­ing gun, fired by eThek­wini mayor Zandile Gumede.

As usual, the start and the route it­self were packed by large crowds urg­ing and cheer­ing on their loved ones and friends.

And, as we have re­flected on these pages over the last cou­ple of weeks, that is ex­actly what the Com­rades is all about.

It is a race for all the peo­ple, run by all the peo­ple.

Of course, we ex­tend our hearty con­grat­u­la­tions to South Africa’s Bong­musa Mthembu and Amer­i­can Camille Her­ron for their vic­to­ries in the men’s and women’s sec­tions re­spec­tively.

Her­ron is the first Amer­i­can woman to win the race since 1992, while Mthembu de­serves a spe­cial salute for cap­tur­ing his sec­ond Com­rades title.

But in the next cou­ple of days there will be thou­sands and thou­sands of or­di­nary South Africans who will for­get the pain and the aching mus­cles, and in­stead bask in the per­sonal sat­is­fac­tion of hav­ing com­pleted one of the ul­ti­mate en­durance tests in sport.

And they will be telling their col­leagues, friends and fam­ily all about it!

Over the last three weeks we ran a spe­cial se­ries in the sports pages across our In­de­pen­dent Me­dia ti­tles called “My per­sonal Com­rades ex­pe­ri­ence” – and that was yet an­other re­veal­ing win­dow into just what this race con­tin­ues to mean to South Africans from all walks of life.

So if you’re one of those read­ing this right now with your Com­rades medal around your neck, three loud cheers to you and all the oth­ers.

The sport­ing cal­en­dar has be­come dan­ger­ously over­crowded, with some codes stretch­ing across all 12 months with­out a break.

And that has taken the shine off some ma­jor events. But the Com­rades is still the Com­rades. Let us trea­sure it for as long as we can.

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