With just 11 days to go to the Comrades Marathon - a cherished national treasure that attracts thousands of runners, spectators and television viewers every year – five entrants embark on the most unique and iconic biathlon in the world, supported by leading international enabler of accurate location-based platforms throughout sub-Saharan Africa, mapIT.
The Comrades Marathon was started in 1921 by Vic Clapham in honour of all his comrades that were killed in the Great War. In its 87th, year the marathon continues to attract entrants from all over the world, and is still known as the ultimate human race.
In 1931, Phil Masterton-Smith – known by the local Zulus as Unogwaja, “The Hare”, became the youngest ever Comrades winner, at age 19, which is a record that still stands. In 1933, unable to afford the train fare to Pietermaritzburg, Masterton-Smith opted to cycle from Cape Town and still managed to finish the marathon 10th overall.
In 2011, this feat was attempted again for the first time since then, by four men and one woman inspired by passion for the 'challenge'. For the second year running, this extraordinary team take on the AVIS Unogwaja Challenge, which involves cycling for 1 766kms in 10 days and finishing off on the 11th day by running one of the world's most gruelling marathons, the Comrades – 89kms in under 12 hours – all in the name of charity. For more, visit http://www.unogwajachallenge.com/.
Naturally, massive attempts like this demand a huge support structure. mapIT has been providing an interactive route map of the Comrades Marathon, indicating the route profile, kilometre markers, refreshment stations, medical points, landmarks, hotspots and spectator points, since 2009.
It is from this relationship that the idea was borne to support the Unogwaja challengers with a live tracking and mapping site for the team cycling from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg. “We have created a site that will monitor each individual person's total distance travelled per day, a site that indicates the cities the athletes will be staying overnight, and of course, most importantly, live tracking services,” said Carey Dodd, Marketing Manager for mapIT. Dodd continued: “Each team member has a device that is tracked via IntelliSports and this information is fed to the public through the mapIT mapping interface.”
The challengers set off from Cape Town at 4am on Thursday 24 May 2012, and reach Pietermaritzburg in time for the start of the Comrades Marathon, on 3 June 2012. To monitor their progress, visit http://unogwajachallenge.mapit.co.za.
Click here to view the Unogwaja Challenge map