Comrades KZN – the ultimate human race

Comrades KZN

– the ultimate human race

(a 60 min feature documentary)

This Synopsis must please be read with reference to the Promo at:

Comrades – the ultimate human race” is a 60 minute documentary feature that sets out to capture & celebrate the “soul” of the Comrades Marathon – run annually since 1921 between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban – and internationally acclaimed as the greatest ultra-marathon endurance race in the world.

An iconic 90 km challenge, undertaken by thousands of local & international every-day heroes, once a year the Comrades grips the nation, realizes dreams and produces peoples’ champions as it shines the local and international spotlight squarely on KZN, Pietermaritzburg, Durban & the majestic rolling Valley of a Thousand Hills in between.

For those that have stepped up to the starting line, it’s a grueling life-changing experience.

In the words of nine-time winner Bruce Fordyce:

“While running the Comrades, every runner is reborn as a new and different person. With about 30 kilometers left to run, you suddenly meet someone you deeply admire and respect, and that person is yourself”.

Watching the drama unfold, every year thousands of local supporters of all colours and creeds throng the highways, city and village streets – shoulder to shoulder – between Pietermaritzburg and Durban – handing out refreshments, sustenance, and encouragement as they passionately urge and cheer on their heroes in a celebration of goodwill and Ubuntu.

For Professor Tim Noakes – Sports Scientist & nine-time Comrades runner – the loyal crowds are an integral part of the “soul” of the Comrades:

“No matter how humble the results, for eleven hours the participants will be applauded for it. From dawn until the sun sets in Durban, they are the children of the road, to be succoured, encouraged, praised & protected.

Forcing one’s self to the limit you must enter the “soul” of the comrades – that special confrontation between an exhausted body and mind, and an ailing but unbeaten will – and, in emerging from the challenge intact, you will know more about yourself, your character, limitations, emotions and strengths.”

A character-driven documentary, the central character is 26 year old Galaletsang Mekgoe who – through her courageous & historic achievement in the 2022 Comrades Marathon – brought joy, pride and affirmation to her family and marginalized township community of Ga-Luka in the Northwest Province.

One of fourteen thousand five hundred local & international contestants – finishing in fifth place, Galaletsang took gold – & was the first black woman home.

Running her first Comrades ever – through her courage & determination – Galaletsang crowned the achievements of black women in the history of the Comrades – with the fastest time recorded by a black woman since the race was opened to women & athletes of all colour in 1975.

With four brothers and a younger sister, Galaletsang is the second-born in a family of six children & hails from the impoverished village of Ga-Luka – typical of many marginalized communities living in the shadow of the platinum mining operations of the North West Province.

Her mother is a part-time domestic worker and her father – having been injured whilst employed on the local Platinum Mine – is disabled and unemployed.

For coach Dave Adams, Galaletsang’s achievement was no surprise: “I always knew she could do it”, he said congratulating her after the race.

A year later, Comrades 2023 – once again – brought both agony & ecstasy – triumph, despair & bitter disappointment.

In a blaze of glory, both Gerda Steyn & Tete Dijane make history – smashing the women & men’s records respectively.

Consistent as ever, Edward Mothibi – also breaking the long-standing record – finished third behind his good friend Tete.

For Galaletsang – the outcome was bitter-sweet.

Improving her time but nagged by an injury she finished eleventh – missing gold by one position – nudged out by new comer – KZN home-girl Jenet Mbhele.

Completing the picture – as the “marshall” turned his back and raised his pistol – scores of everyday heroes – once again – manifesting the soul of the Comrades marathon – made it across the line to finish within the magic 12 hour cut-off

In the afterglow – once recovered  – picking themselves up – every-one a hero – they all now look ahead to next year’s event.

Determined as ever – our champion Galaletsang – up against the unknown factor of newcomer Jenet Mbhele – sets her sights on once again finishing in the top five & taking gold.

For Jenet – her ambition is to win this race within the next five years – will this be her year?

The stage is set & only 9th June 2024 will tell.

Tracking Galaletsang’s daily life – both as family bread-winner and with her eye firmly on the prize – training with coach Dave Adams for next year’s Comrades to be run on 9th June, 2024 – this central character-driven thread will unfold against a backdrop of the Comrades Marathon – it’s history, development & unique character that today attracts some 17 000 local & international contestants annually to the starting line.

The everyday lives & training routine of other principal characters such as Jenet Mbhele, Tete Dijane, Edward Mothibi & Gerda Steyn will be interwoven with central character Galaletsang’s foreground journey story-line.

In so doing, “Comrades – the Ultimate Human Race” will capture & celebrate for posterity the “soul” of the Comrades Marathon – to put – for all time – the local and international spotlight squarely on KZN, South Africa & the greatest ultra-marathon endurance race in the world – the KZN Comrades Marathon – the ultimate human race.

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