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Comrades

Format: 1 x 60

A snapshot of modern South Africa, Comrades is a vibrant character study following the journeys of six diverse South Africans as they train for and run in one of the world's toughest marathons and the country's most celebrated sporting event – the historic 90 kilometre Comrades double-marathon.

Using rarely-seen archive footage from across the twentieth century, the film also tells the extraordinary story of the Comrades marathon itself – a race that has borne witness to the country's most significant social and political changes. Started in the heyday of colonial power, the first starter’s gun was fired on Empire Day in 1921 with a field of 34 runners. Since then, the race has grown from a fringe activity into South Africa’s most popular sporting event and the only one that is truly multi-racial.

But it was not always so; under the nationalist government, Comrades was a white-only event and the race soon emerged as a platform for anti-apartheid campaigning. Public pressure ensured that the race became multi-racial in 1975, 20 years before Mandela was released from prison. Since then, Comrades has emerged as one of the most powerful symbols of unity in the new South Africa.

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