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Two Dead and At Least 74 Runners Hospitalized Following the Comrades Marathon 2022 in South Africa

At least seventy-four runners were taken to various hospitals in Durban, South Africa after experiencing medical emergencies at the 2022 Comrades Marathon, according to the race director.

Comrades Marathon is the world’s largest and oldest ultramarathon race.

The Comrades Marathon takes place once a year between the towns of Durban and Pietermaritzburg in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. The race covers roughly 89 kilometers (55 miles).

This year’s race was held last weekend (Aug. 27-28).

The marathon events have raised concerns over unusual deaths and medical emergencies among these fit athletes.

Nine of the 74 Comrades Marathon participants who were hospitalized on Sunday are still being treated there, according to the Comrades Marathon Association.

Tragically, two runners, Mzamo Mthembu (31) and Phakamile Ntshiza (37)  lost their lives.

One of two other athletes who were initially admitted to the ICU is no longer on life support but is still closely monitored by medical staff.

“The association says in a statement that Mthembu had a heart attack while running in Pinetown. He was taken to the Westville Hospital, where he later died,” Sabcnews reported.

According to reports, Phakamile Ntshiza died after collapsing.

“The race doctor, Jeremy Boulter, says details of the second incident are unknown. The association says Ntshiza got into difficulty close to the halfway mark at Drummond and died before he could be transported to hospital,” the outlet added.

According to the event’s organizers, participants are required to not only have completed a qualifying marathon but also to fill out a comprehensive medical questionnaire upon registration.

“An organizational point of view we’ve taken all necessary steps that we can to mitigate any potential hazards. And then in terms of the medical screening process, it’s quite an involved process but what it basically does is it flags the athletes either red, yellow, or green, depending on the answers they’ve given. If anybody falls into the red category, then the medical team starts speaking with an athlete before they start the race,” race director Rowyn James said.

“Is it normal? No, from a death point of view. Absolutely the last time that Comrades actually had a death in the actual race itself on race day was in 2012. And in total, in the last 40 years, there’s been eight deaths on race day itself over previous years,” James said.

“At this difficult time, we share our sympathy and condolences with the family, friends and running mates of these two athletes. We will continue to have them in our thoughts and offer them our support as they deal with their loss. We would also like to thank the medical staff and volunteers who assisted in quickly providing whatever assistance they could to these athletes,” Chairperson of the Comrades Marathon Association Mqondisi Ngcobo.

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