The history of the medals awarded in Comrades is an interesting one. Until 1972, only 6 gold medals were awarded and all other finishers earned a silver medal. When the change came in 1972, organisers increased the number of gold medals to 10. Here is the list of medals awarded on Comrades day.
This medal is awarded to the first 10 men across the finish line at the end of Comrades
WALLY HAYWARD MEDAL (half gold & half silver)
This medal, named after 5 time winner Wally Hayward is awarded to those runners who finish outside the gold medals, but under 6 hours i.e. Position 11 to sub 6 hours. This was introduced in 2007.
With the change to the number of gold medals awarded from 1972, the organisers also decided that there should be a time based incentive to earn a silver medal so the 7 hour 30 cut off to win a silver was introduced.
THE BILL ROWAN MEDAL (half silver & half bronze)
The first Comrades Marathon in 1921 was won by Bill Rowan and it was the first Down Run with the 16 finishers of the 34 starters finishing at the Durban City Hall. Rowan won in a time of 8 hours and 59 minutes so anyone breaking 9 hours in Comrades is awarded this medal.
The Bronze Medal was introduced in 1972 has no specific name and is won by any runner finishing between 10 and 11 hours.
VIC CLAPHAM MEDAL (copper)
When the time limit for the race was extended to 12 hours, a new medal was introduced for runners who finished between 11 and 12 hours. The copper Vic Clapham Medal was introduced in memory of the man who started it all way back in 1921.
BACK 2 BACK MEDAL (nickel & bronze combination)
In 2005 the Back 2 Back medal was introduced and awarded to runners who had completed their second Comrades in the year after their first run. It can’t be won by anyone who doesn’t run their first two Comrades in successive years.
TWO NEW MEDALS
The 2019 race will see the introduction of two new medals.
ISAVEL ROCHE-KELLY MEDAL (half gold & half silver)
The women’s equivalent of the Wally Hayward Medal will now be a part of the race going forward.
This medal will be the Isavel Roche-Kelly Medal and will be earned by those women finishing from position 11, which is outside the gold medals and running sub 7 hours 30 minutes.
ROBERT MTSHALI MEDAL (titanium – pewter colour)
This will be the other new Comrades Medal and to win that runners will have missed the Bill Rowan Medal for breaking 9 but now will earn the new medal if they finish between 9 and 10 hours.
Robert Mtshali was the first unofficial Black runner in Comrades and he finished the 1935 race in 9 hours 30 minutes. Again a symbolic medal of the time Mtshali ran.