South Africa's Comrades Marathon Association received a special award at the 30th anniversary gala of the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) in Athens, Greece on Friday.
The association used the occasion to highlight the contributions of the world's oldest marathons to the sport of road running.
The Comrades Marathon was honoured for being the oldest marathon and ultra-marathon on the African continent. It is also the world's oldest ultra-marathon and, of all marathons run globally, it is third in age, behind only the Boston and Yonkers Marathons.
The status of the Comrades Marathon was further underlined when the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) was chosen to host a highly successful 2012 AIMS Children's Series Race in Durban on 2 June this year. Children's Series events will also be hosted in 2013 and 2014.
The CMA was also recently awarded the hosting rights for the inaugural AIMS Regional Conference, which will be held in Pietermartizburg in February 2013. It will also host the AIMS World Congress in Durban in May 2014.
The congress, the first of its kind to be held on the African continent, will see delegates from over 300 AIMS-affiliated running events from all over the globe descend on South Africa's east coast city.
Accepting the special award on behalf of the CMA on Friday, former chairman and present board member Peter Proctor dedicated it to Vic Clapham, the founder of the Comrades Marathon.
Addressing an audience which included race directors from 52 AIMS-affiliated races worldwide, Proctor highlighted the fact that the Comrades Marathon was started as a remembrance to the soldiers who perished during the First World War.
CMA general manager Gary Boshoff, who is also an executive board member of AIMS, described the award as "due recognition of the Comrades Marathon, not only as the oldest marathon on the African continent, but also as the oldest and biggest ultra-marathon in the world; and the third oldest marathon in the world after The Boston and Yonkers Marathons in the USA.
"It was indeed a proud moment for the CMA to represent the legacy of Vic Clapham and South Africa at this prestigious AIMS International Awards Gala, in Athens, Greece, the birth place of the marathon 2 502 years ago," Boshoff said.
"The global family of road running recognised the Comrades Marathon as a pioneer of the running movement, and we were privileged to accept the award on behalf of all South Africans."
'A significant achievement'
CMA chairman Dave Dixon commented: "Receiving this prestigious acknowledgement from AIMS is a significant achievement in the history of the Comrades Marathon and is further evidence of the exciting times that lie ahead for the CMA and 'The Ultimate Human Race'.
"We are grateful for this accolade and thank everyone who has had a hand in making Comrades the success story that it is today."