An amateur author writes the history of the centenary of the comrades

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When he’s not fundraising for the university, UKZN Foundation Acting Executive Director Steve Camp relaxes by writing books.

The amateur author, who already has some 22 titles to his credit, ranging from children’s books to military history, recently penned the definitive official history of the Comrades Marathon with his co-author, Brad Morgan.

“In Your Stride: 100 Years of the Comrades Marathon” concluded at the end of 2021 in time for the centenary of this iconic sporting event.

“The oldest and largest ultra-marathon in the world, the Comrades Marathon is a South African institution recognized internationally for the physical challenge it poses and the camaraderie it fosters among its thousands of participants around the world,” Camp said.

Researching its history was fascinating, he noted. The race was born from an idea dreamed up by WWI veteran Vic Clapham, who wanted a living memorial for South African soldiers killed in the Great War.

READ ALSO : Comrades Marathon veteran launches her first book

Clapham, who had endured a 2,700 kilometer march through sweltering German East Africa, wanted the memorial to be a unique test of physical endurance. The breed’s constitution states that one of its main purposes is to “celebrate the spirit of mankind above adversity.”

“First run in 1921, the Comrades Marathon has been held every year since, except from 1941 to 1945 when it was stopped during World War II, and from 2020 to 2021, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

Camp went on to say that 34 runners participated in the first race, and it peaked at over 20,000 athletes. On Sunday August 28, 2022, the 89 km course was run again from Pietermaritzburg to Durban with a capped field of 15,000 participants, all eager to test their endurance in this “Ultimate Human Race”.

Among them, 20 UKZN staff will run in the university colours.

In Your Stride captures the history and images of this remarkable event, spanning 100 years, and speaks not just to runners but also to those captivated by the triumph of the human spirit.

“Writing books has always been my hobby, as far back as I can remember. Even at school, I spent hours in the library and in bookstores, browsing the shelves and dreaming of one day writing my own book. After a day at the office, I find it relaxing to spend time researching a topic that interests me, rummaging through archives, leafing through old newspapers, talking to experts, and researching relevant images and illustrations. You never know what you’re going to find,” he said.

Camp has written a number of children’s books – mostly on environmental subjects – as well as one on the architecture of Pietermaritzburg (Historic Pietermaritzburg), the history of South African-made landmine protected military vehicles (Surviving the Ride), and one to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Dusi Canoe Marathon (African River Adventures), also with Morgan.

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