Tana Manser was a familiar sight in the Comrades Medical Facility for twenty years, diligently assisting Dr Jeremy Boulter as his second in command with all things medical.
She helped plan and implement medical protocols, organising the stretcher bearers – which numbered around 100, as well taking responsibility for about 15 nurses, in addition to carrying out a host of administrative functions required in the medical portfolio.
Most importantly, she was committed to serving every athlete who ended up in the Medical Tent on race day, which averaged around 600.
Manser has been described as one of those true unsung heroes, someone who was unflappable, enthusiastic, responsive and all-round positive, hence it is with a heavy heart that the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) notes the passing of a volunteering great, especially at a terrible time in global history with so much of suffering and loss all around us. She was 51 years old.
Those who had the pleasure of having worked with Manser and got to know her speak of her willingness, cheerfulness, calm disposition, compassion and general compatibility. She gave generously of her time, her smiles and her efforts.
She worked as a paramedic by profession, employed in the provincial ambulance service and in later years, joined the Howick Association for the Aged (HADCA).
Joining The Ultimate Human Race in 1999
She came on board as a volunteer at The Ultimate Human Race in 1999 where she initially assisted the Medical Rescue International (MRI) which managed the ambulance facility at the Comrades Marathon at the time.
After two years at the Comrades Medical Facility, specifically in charge of the ambulance control centre at the JOC, she became an all-rounder and co-convenor, under the supervision of Dr Boulter.
Manser served as the second in command in the Medical portfolio for the ensuing 18 years, having been involved in all aspects of it, and often being the go-to person due to her approachability and friendliness.
Her two decades of volunteerism ended in 2019 after she became ill.
Comrades Medical Convenor, Dr Boulter says, “Tana was super-efficient, unflappable, always smiling, always quick to respond and nothing was too much trouble for her.”
“I will always remember her as cheerful, optimistic, caring and helpful. We will miss her. Our thoughts are with her son, Michael.” – Comrades Medical Convenor, Dr Jeremy Boulter
CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn says, “Tana maintained a constant, humble and reliable presence over her 20 years of Comrades volunteerism. She was of a quiet but diligent nature who epitomised the spirit of the Comrades Marathon in her selfless and steadfast ways.
“Her contribution to the Comrades Marathon will long be remembered and her absence on race day will be greatly felt. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and everyone who knew her.”
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Tana,” said CMA General Manager, Keletso Totlhanyo. “She showcased the true Comrades spirit with her two decades of volunteerism in the Medical Tent. She no doubt inspired many others with her selflessness and determination to help others. May her soul rest in peace.
“Tana was the quiet, unassuming one on the Race Organising Committee, yet she always got the job done with minimal fuss in her support towards the Race Doctor and Medical Portfolio.
“I always knew that whatever she had committed to undertaking or getting done regarding the race and her portfolio would be delivered on. She will be missed,” CMA Race Director, Rowyn James revealed.
SABC Head of Sport, Gary Rathbone concluded, “We are so sorry to hear about Tana’s passing. I’m sure I speak for all at SABC Sport in offering our sincere condolences to her family and to the Comrades Team where she will be sorely missed.”
Photo 1 Caption: Tana Manser was a familiar sight in the Comrades Medical Facility for twenty years, diligently assisting Dr Jeremy Boulter as his second in command with all things medical. She passed on at the age of 51. Photo: CMA
With editing by gsport