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.