Durban - The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) might have thought that they outdid themselves by increasing the Comrades Marathon winners’ prize money by R25 000 for the 2020 race, but former champion Gift Kelehe said they have done nothing special.
At the 2020 “Down Run’ race launch in Johannesburg on Wednesday, the CMA announced that the winners of the prestigious race will walk away with R525 000 - up from R500 000 in 2019.
Athletes did not give the new prizes the warm welcome the association expected.
Outspoken 2015 Comrades winner Kelehe said runners will only be satisfied when the winners collect at least R1 million.
At the moment, a runner can only win over a million by breaking the course record.
“Please, we are still crying, when is the prize money going to get to a million?” asked Kelehe, who raised the issue before.
Other runners such as Claude Moshiywa and reigning champion Edward Mothibi have also stated they are unhappy with the current prize money.
Comrades race director Rowyn James said Kelehe’s wish has reached the association, but it won’t be granted anytime soon.
“I think first and foremost what will ever be enough? That is something you need to ask yourself and your fellow athletes,” said James to Kelehe.
“We put a prize of R4.47 million, which is a lot of money in my opinion. CMA always strives to keep Comrades top of the list in terms of prize money, there’s not even a race (in the country) that’s close to us in terms of offering that prize money.
“Regarding the R1 million, I hope that you train towards that and watch the space,” he said.
Kelehe also found it unfair that they are expected to beat the best times achieved over 89.2km distance at the old finish line while running the new 90.2km distance that ends at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
James said, “Best times are meant to be broken. When David (Gatebe) ran the best 'down' time in 2016 (5:18:19) nobody really gave him a chance, but he proved everybody wrong.”
The women's 'down' record remains the 5:54:43 set 30 years ago in 1989 by Frith van der Merwe.