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06 June 2019

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) hosted the official media briefing for the 94th Comrades Marathon to be held on Sunday, 9 June 2019.
The official route distance for this year’s Up Run is 86.83km. Along the route will be 41 fully stocked refreshment stations, containing water, fruit, energy drinks, energy bars, chocolates, biscuits and cooked potatoes. These stations will be powered by nearly 3000 volunteers.

1000 marshals plus 200 community marshals will assist the SAPS, Metro Police, the CMA’s security service provider and other law enforcement officials on Race Day.

CMA Race Director, Rowyn James says that the SAPS Bomb Squad personnel will carry out bomb sweeps at the Comrades Start and Finish Venues before the race, as has happened over the past two decades. 

Extensive medical, emergency, first aid and physiotherapy provisions for its thousands of participants have also been put in place. Partially sponsored by Netcare 911, these much-needed medical amenities will be made available at strategic positions along the Comrades route and at the finish venue, being the Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg.

This comprises physiotherapy stations, a fleet of ambulances, several rapid response vehicles as well as numerous paramedics. In addition, a dedicated emergency helicopter that ensures immediate medical assistance for runners should the need arise, is on standby.

This will be controlled by the Venue Operations Control (VOC), based at the stadium, which is equipped with computers, a full complement of committed personnel to operate and record all details and dispatch vehicles, as and when necessary. 

The Netcare 911 Medical Emergency Number to remember is 082 911. This should be used for all calls for medical assistance for runners, upon which the calls will be routed direct to the Medical JOC.
There are eight Netcare 911 Physio/ First Aid Stations which incorporate qualified physiotherapists, professional nurses and paramedical staff. These stations can treat minor medical problems, as well as blood sugar testing and further used to treat or stabilize runners until the arrival of the ambulance. Physio students will also be positioned at certain refreshment stations along the route and a physio tent is set up at the finish.  

The extensive Comrades Medical Facility at the finish is equally equipped to handle just about any medical eventuality. It comprises 50 doctors and interns, 20 nurses and a mini laboratory, courtesy of Ampath Laboratories.
Other facilities include a 3-bed fully equipped ICU-type resuscitation area, which comprises its own specialist emergency team to provide appropriate emergency care if required. 

A critical care emergency facility right on the finish line has also been set up in order for athletes to access on-the-spot medical help if needed. This is staffed by an emergency care doctor and a paramedic. The purpose of this specific medical facility is to have in place a primary, emergency resuscitation area if a runner is in severe trouble at the finish; and requires immediate care, prior to being transferred to the medical facility.

Additionally, an advanced life support paramedic will be stationed along, or at the end of the Toyota Mile, for the purposes of responding to calls to runners in that area who are in trouble before they enter the stadium.

Add to all of the above facilities, the St. John’s Ambulance Tent. Here, runners can access such facilities as R&R, rub-downs, strapping, massage and the like.
The Netcare group of hospitals will be providing the required facilities for Comrades day. To this end, the St. Augustine’s Hospital in Durban will be utilized for those runners who require hospitalization before halfway.

For those runners in the second half of the race and at the finish, the referral hospital in Pietermaritzburg is the St. Anne’s Hospital. Please note that runners with Medical Aid may be charged at Medical Aid rates and those without, will be treated free of charge for a maximum of 24 hours, courtesy of Netcare where after they will be transferred to a state hospital.
There will be forty (40) 15-seater buses, four (4) 35-seater and twenty eight (28) 60-seater Bailer Buses on route to uplift the athletes that do not make the cut-offs or are unable to continue with their race on Comrades race day.

The Bailer Bus portfolio consists of 124 volunteers and 72 drivers. Each bus has a team of three members - the driver, as well as a bus manager and a hostess - who look after the bailers once they’re on the bus. A runner who makes use of this facility can, under no circumstance, re-join the race or collect a finisher’s medal.

The buses are all connected by radio and in an emergency can call for assistance from the VOC via the ham radios on the route or directly to the first 911 station. 

CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn says, ‘We have catered in every possible way to make the 94th Comrades Marathon a memorable and hassle-free experience for our runners. We wish all participants a great run on Race Day.’

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