The first Comrades marathon was run in 1921 by Vic Clapham (a WW1 veteran) and 34 other runners, who initiated it as a reunion. Clapham wanted to commemorate those who had fallen in the war by the ultimate testing of body and mind.
Today, many run the marathon to support different causes all over the world. Who can forget the pictures that trended last year when one runner had a placard proposing to his beloved, Prudence? This year, over R3,9 million was raised by runners from 84 countries for their respective causes. One cannot deny the global impact that the race has, even on those who are not running.
Talking about impact: one of over a thousand accountants who ran the Comrades this year, Ongeziwe Nyenjana CA(SA), opted to run his second race to raise funds for the Thuthuka Bursary Fund under the theme #Run4Thuthuka. #Run4Thuthuka is an initiative that is driven by members who have raised their hands to raise funds for Thuthuka. This is the beginning of many member-driven initiatives partnering with SAICA in order to raise funds for Thuthuka.
‘Many members participating in different sports codes have asked SAICA if they can use their major competitions to raise funds for the Thuthuka Bursary Fund. We as an institute are excited about these suggestions on behalf
of our Thuthuka students and donors. Together with our colleagues, we are working on different ways to support those who wish to help us to raise funds for Thuthuka. Every rand raised for our “Thuthuka babies” goes a long way to building a sustainable pipeline for our profession,’ explains Gugu Makhanya, Senior Executive: Stakeholder Engagement and Transformational Projects at SAICA.
‘If anyone is interested in partnering with us in their different activities to raise awareness and funds for Thuthuka, they should contact TebohoMo@saica.co.za and MandisiN@saica.co.za and we will see how to assist them,’ says Gugu.
‘We are proud of Ongeziwe’s achievement and interest in running for Thuthuka. To have our members running to raise funds for Thuthuka shows how our members value what Thuthuka is doing and that they want to contribute towards its growth. Watch this space,’ concludes Gugu.
For more about the Thuthuka Bursary Fund, please visit https://www.saica.org.za/initiatives/thuthuka.
Taking the Thuthuka matter to his hands
Ongeziwe Nyenjana CA(SA) is Director: Assurance at SNG Grant Thornton
Ongeziwe’s finishing time was 8:51, which earned him a Bill Rowan Medal.
What was it like running the Comrades this year?
What I would define as a ‘perfect day’, as everything went according to plan. I felt like the running gods were watching over me. A wonderful experience and a moment to treasure. I cannot wait for next year’s race.
Tell us more about running for the Thuthuka Bursary Programme?
I think this is what made this year’s race special. Running for a purpose and for Thuthuka was the reason I was running the Comrades. Running for Thuthuka has been on my mind for quite some time: I just couldn’t make up my mind about which race to choose. I’d say it has been my calling to help disadvantaged students further their studies. I had to answer the call this year. For me, it was about driving impact and touching kids’ lives in a way that would propel them to a brighter future.
How many years have you run it?
This was my second year. My first Comrades was last year.
Which has been your best Comrades ever?
Definitely this one. It has to be, because I ran with Thuthuka!
What did you enjoy most?
The atmosphere with everyone coming out to support us. That keeps you going.
A special shout out to the Thuthuka students who came out to cheer us on. They were amazing! They ran with me as I entered the CBD and chanted with high-pitched voices as if they had just met their hero. The highlight of my race!
The race itself is challenging, but I was well prepared and would not say there are areas where I struggled.
How did you train for it?
I had a 12−15-week training schedule which consisted of tempo sessions (to improve speed), long runs (for endurance), hill repeats, and strength training. I aimed to cover between 80 km and 120 km every week and was also following a dietary plan. Lastly, I trained in tough conditions characterised by high temperature levels and blistering cold mornings to get the body to acclimatise more easily.
SAICA Members at Comrades share their experiences
Boitumelo Kuzwayo CA(SA) is Deputy Head of Department / Senior Lecturer, Department of Commercial Accounting, UJ
Also known as Ms K at UJ, Boitumelo ran her third Comrades this year and achieved her goal – finishing with a smile. On average, she trained five times a week. ‘That included a strength session / cross training, shorter runs in the week (either hill repeats, a speed session or a distance-based run) and a long run over the weekend (anything more than 25 km),’ she says.
During the week she trained with a training group called the Stallions where they have a structured weekly training schedule. Boitumelo finished in 11:31 and acknowledges that the down run is not her most ‘favourable’.
“The Comrades reminds me that you always need to keep moving no matter how tough it gets because every step gets you close to your end destination whether you walk, shuffle, run or crawl,” she says
Rannyane Kaibe CA(SA) is Manager: Accounting and Reporting (Finance) at Mangaung Metro Municipality
Rannyane belongs to Centre City Titaniums Athletics Club which is based in Bloemfontein. The club supports its runners by arranging structured club runs catering for new, intermediate and experienced runners. The technical director shares valuable running information and programmes on a regular basis. He has been running the Comrades consistently since 2014 and only missed last year’s race. This year was his best finish at 08:36.
“During the race, I kept to the plan and maintained the planned average pace of 5½–6 minutes per kilometre. It felt great to cross the finish line in under nine hours, which meant I had achieved my personal best (previous PB 10:13). Out of my six Comrades medals, this is the most precious one,” she says.
Milton Segal CA(SA) is Executive Director: Standards at SAICA
A Bill Rowan Medal in a time of 8:55 was a sweet reward for Milton’s hard and consistent training this year. From the beginning of the year, he ran two marathons and two ultras as part of his preparation. His coach also helped him with scientific training methods and motivation. In total, Milton ran over 1 750 km in preparation and did biokinetics, strength work and swimming as well.
“The most enjoyable part for me was running virtually pain-free and at a good consistent pace, which was an improvement on 2022. The salted potatoes en route were also a favourite! I also saw my SAICA colleagues at the 45th cutting who gave me a pep talk, a few sips of Energade and a few loud cheers, which was incredibly special, says Milton.
Thandokuhle Myoli CA(SA) is Executive: Audit and Assurance at SAICA
Thando ran his first Comrades in 2018. At that point, he had undertrained and didn’t know what to expect. The race helped him to deal with his father’s passing earlier that year. ‘Somewhere along the route between Pietermaritzburg and Durban I was able to move forward in dealing with his loss,’ he says.
Although he crossed the finishing line at Moses Mabhida Stadium that year, he never received a medal because he finished in a time of 12:01. In 2019 he was better prepared and completed the race in 11:20. This year’s race (definitely not his last) was his third and he finished in 09:48. ‘But the first one is still my favourite, as I ran it in the true spirit of the race, he says.
Bilal Khan CA(SA) is CFO at Midlands Specialist Private Hospital
A member of Save Orion Athletics Club, Bilal completed his first Comrades this year. ‘Running Comrades has always been a personal dream,’ he says, and he ‘cruised’ in at 11:36. In preparing for the race, Bilal started training last year in September and ran his first marathon in February 2023.
Jonathan Maehler CA(SA)
Coach Parry, the official Comrades coach, came in handy for Jonathan, who is also a member of Team Vitality. His strict running plan included 80 km a week in preparing for the race which resulted in a 09:56 finish. Jonathan ran for the Angel Network, an NPO with a vision of alleviating poverty and social injustices within the communities they operate.
“It was an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience, being my first Comrades. It is a very long race and one is challenged both mentally and physically,”he says
Samantha Cheesman CA(SA) is Partner and Jono Hotz CA(SA) is Managing Partner at Nexia Levitt Kirson
Talk about teamwork … Samantha and Jono ran the Comrades again this year together. They are partners at Nexia Levitt Kirson and are only separated by the clubs they run for – Jono is a member of Westville Athletics Club and Sam is a member of Hillcrest Villagers Athletics Club. They both finished the race in 11:40 and put in approximately 1 100 km in preparation for the race.
Robin Levisohn CA(SA)
Robin ran an average of 80 km per week preparing for the Comrades and finished in 11:43. He is a member of DHS Old Boys (Durban) running club under coach Roger Westbrook, Westpoint Running.
“All in all, it was a good day and the support along the route was great. The vibe on entering the stadium was unbelievable, although I was tired and my legs were sore, this carried me to the finish line!”
Nasiegh Hamdulay CA(SA) is Senior Executive: Risk and Compliance at SAICA
Running his fourth Comrades this year, Nasiegh considers 2015 and 2023 his best so far. This year he finished in 11:44.
“This year’s Comrades was my most enjoyable. I had no intention of beating my previous times, as my training preparation was very different to prior years. I had participated in the full Iron Man in Port Elizabeth in March and had to pull out after 21 km on the run due to ill health.
I also had many work commitments and was unable to do many long runs after the Iron Man in preparation for the Comrades. Having said that, I never felt pressurised that I was not going to finish the Comrades before the final cut-off. I stopped along the way to talk to the supporters and have fun along the route.
I’ve realised that the Comrades marathon is the longest buffet, with free food and drink everywhere between Pietermaritzburg and Durban,”he says.