1960 - 1965

2nd screen

1960 Up (35th Race)
Date Tuesday, 31 May
Weather Fine and mild.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 7/20
DBN 11/21
Start Venue/Time Durban City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Collegians’ Club Oval
Time Limit 11 Hours
Approx. Distance 54 M
Entries 106
Starters 104
Finishers – Total 80
Men 80
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 74
% Finishers / Starters 76.9

THE MENS RACE

Seven years earlier, Wally Hayward ran down to Durban in less than 6 hours.

Was it possible that someone could emulate that feat running up to Pietermaritzburg?

The Best Time of 6h 12m 55s, for the Up Run, was set by the great Hayward, himself, when he was victorious in 1954. Was anyone capable of removing 13 minutes from that mark?

When the record field of 104 runners set off along the dark streets of Durban, the next 6 hours would provide the answer.

Unsure of his fitness, Gerald Walsh adopted his standard tactic. He went to the front and led the procession over Tollgate with Jackie Mekler, Lucas Nel and Nick Raubenheimer on his heels.

Brilliant sunshine welcomed the runners in Westville, by which time Mekler had overtaken Walsh. Mekler took Cowie’s Hill without any trouble and led the race through Pinetown in 1h 25m 17s. (At this stage, he was 3m 25s ahead of Hayward’s time in 1954.) Walsh lay 300 yards adrift of the leader, in 1h 27m 6s, with Nel 3rd through in 1h 29m 10s.

Walsh never let Mekler get away up Field’s Hill; hanging on grimly. Behind them, George Claassen passed the fading Nel to move into 3rd position. Never allowing the pace to drop, Mekler reached Hillcrest in 2h 20m 45s (4m 55s faster than Hayward in 1954). He surely had his eye on reducing the Best Time and, possibly, going under 6 hours. Following him through Hillcrest was Walsh (2h 25m 35s), Claassen (2h 26m 39s) and Allen and Bill Rufus together (2h 28m 2s).  

When the flying Mekler passed through Drummond in 3h 4m 1s, he was he was 7m 40s faster than when Hayward established the fastest Up Run time in 1954. Ten minutes passed before Walsh arrived in 3h 13m 24s. Then came Claassen (3h 14m 15s), Allen and Rufus (3h 17m 1s) and Raubenheimer (3h 17m 3s).

There were changes in the position as the lead runners approached Cato Ridge. Rufus, suffering repeated attacks of cramp, fell back and out of contention, while Claassen went ahead of Walsh. Mekler was away on his apparent record-breaking run, clocking in at Camperdown in 4h 25m 30s, but his advantage over Hayward’s record run had dropped to 6m 34s. Walsh had regained 2nd place and went through Camperdown in 4h 42m 59s wth Claassen next in 4h 44m 21s.

While Mekler continually increased the distance between himself and the rest of the field, Classen was tiring rapidly, enabling Walsh to open a considerable gap over him.

Mekler took Polly Shortt’s without faltering and, as he set off down the hill into Pietermaritzburg, it was evident that what was once thought impossible – a sub 6-hour Up Run – was about to become a reality. He entered the Collegians’ Club grounds to a thunderous ovation.

His time… an unbelievable… 5h 56m 32s.

RESULT

1st Jackie Mekler * South Africa

5h 51m 27s

New Best Time Up

2nd Gerald Walsh South Africa 5h 58m 07s
3rd George Claassen South Africa 6h 10m 11s
4th

Trevor Allen **

South Africa 6h 42m 30s
4th Nick Raubenheimer ** South Africa 6h 42m 30s
6th Roland Davey South Africa 6h 50m 12s
7th Rob Gardner South Africa 7h 01m 42s
8th Dave Levick South Africa 7h 07m 44s
9th Piet van der Leeuw South Africa 7h 09m 55s
10th Dewald Steyn South Africa 7h 13m 05s

* First Sub-6:00 Up Run

** Finished together

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Gerald Walsh (43) South Africa 6h 31m 07s
2nd George Claassen (43) South Africa 6h 37m 07s
3rd Trig Wang (42) South Africa 8m 10m 47s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Liege Boulle (51) South Africa

8h 05m 35s

New Best Time Up

1961 Down (36th Race)
Date Wednesday, 31 May
Weather Warm and humid.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 8/26
DBN 13/25
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Beach Pavilion
Time Limit 11 Hours
Approx. Distance 56 M
Entries 164
Starters 148
Finishers – Total 98
Men 98
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 92
% Finishers / Starters 66.2

THE MENS RACE

After his magnificent sub 6-hour Up Run in 1960, Jackie Mekler was the overwhelming favourite. The withdrawal of Gerald Walsh, through illness, the night before, robbed the race of the only runner who had a reasonable chance of competing against Mekler.

First to show in the dash down Commercial Road was Fritz Madel. In close order came Frikkie Steyn, Mekler, George Claassen and Keith Pearce. By Umlaas Road, Mekler had gone to the front and led Pearce by 150 yards. Reaching Cato Ridge in 1h 54m, Mekler was just 125 yards ahead of Pearce. Trailing through, 4 minutes later were Claassen, Steyn and Madel in a bunch.  

Pearce gradually closed in on Mekler, passing him on Inchanga, and led through Drummond, by a solitary yard, in 2h 47m. Next through, in a group in 2h 52m, was Claassen, Steyn and Madel. Trevor Allen passed by in 6th place in 2h 55m.

On the climb out of Drummond, it became apparent that Mekler was showing signs of discomfort and just beyond Botha’s Hill, he withdrew. It was a recurrence of an Achilles problem from the London to Brighton a few months before. The inexperienced Pearce found himself in the lead going through Hillcrest 3m 37s inside Hayward’s 1953 time, when he became the first man to break 6 hours on the Down Run. The trio of Claassen, Steyn and Allen were next to arrive in the village. Reaching Pinetown in 4h 26m, Pearce was still a minute inside Hayward’s time. Running together, Claassen and Steyn passed by in 4h 35m, with Allen, next, in 4h 42m.

The furious record-breaking pace that Pearce maintained started to tell on him. That, together with the heavy coastal atmosphere, ultimately caught up with him. He collapsed from exhaustion and cramp near the Durban boundary. The race now developed into a thrilling battle between Claassen and Steyn. They went past 45th Cutting side by side in 5h 32m. Allen, now effectively out of it, passed by in 5h 44m.

Classen made the decisive move at the Westridge Park Tennis Stadium. A nail-biting dash ensued down Berea Road but Steyn just could not find the extra bit of speed to reel in the leader who ran to the finish at the Beach Pavilion with lead of 1m 58s.

RESULT

1st George Claassen South Africa

6h 07m 07s

2nd Frikkie Steyn South Africa 6h 09m 05s
3rd Trevor Allen South Africa 6h 22m 49s
4th Fritz Madel South Africa 6h 36m 10s
5th Nick Raubenheimer South Africa 6h 36m 12s
6th Charlie Chase South Africa 6h 40m 14s
7th Clive Crawley South Africa 6h 48m 40s
8th Basil Harrison South Africa 6h 50m 02s
9th Manie Kuhn South Africa 6h 55m 20s
10th Dennis McInerney South Africa 7h 08m 42s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st George Claassen (44) South Africa 6h 07m 07s
2nd Basil Harrison (40) South Africa 6h 50m 02s
2nd Eddie Gore (41) South Africa 7h 31m 37s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Liege Boulle (52) South Africa

7h 45m 41s

New Best Time Down

1962 Up (37th Race)
Date Wednesday, 30 May
Weather Cool and mild.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 6/24
DBN 10/23
Start Venue/Time Durban City Hall / 6:03
Finish Venue Collegians’ Club Oval
Time Limit 11 Hours
Approx. Distance 54 M
Entries 165
Starters 156
Finishers – Total 109
Men 109
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 103
% Finishers / Starters 69.9

THE MENS RACE

New ground was broken when a team of four, representing the Road Runners Club of England arrived. John Smith, Tom Buckingham, Don Turner and Ron Linstead were regarded as the four best ultra men in England. They would be competing against a team comprising Jackie Mekler, George Claassen, Peter Clough, Frikkie Steyn and Fritz Madel representing the Marathon Runners Club of South Africa.

Mekler, Steyn and Madel were bunched together with Buckingham as they went through Westville. Mekler broke away as they left the village and, reaching Pinetown in 1h 20m 35s, he had opened a lead of 2 minutes over Madel. Less than a minute in arrears came Steyn and Buckingham. Smith (1h 24m) was next to appear, followed by Linstead, and then a group that included Nick Raubenheimer, Clough and Turner.

A relaxed-looking Mekler clocked in at Hillcrest in 2h 12m 31s, a full 6 minutes ahead of Buckingham who led Smith by 7 seconds. Steyn was next through, 46 seconds further back. Still full of running, Mekler reached the halfway mark at Drummond in a new Best Time (2h 56m 57s) to that point. Buckingham and Smith came through together (3h 3m) with Steyn (3h 7m), Madel (3h 9m) and Linstead (3h 9m 10s) following.

Mekler pushed hard up Inchanga but, once over the top, on the long stretch to Camperdown, it became apparent that he had set too punishing a pace and he began to tire. Smith left Buckingham in this vicinity and began eating into Mekler’s lead. In earlier days, the leader was deemed to be doing well if Camperdown was reached in 5 hours. It was understandable that Mekler should be tiring. He passed the checkpoint in 4h 12m; 13 minutes faster than his time of 2 years earlier when he became the first man to beat 6 hours on the Up Run. Smith was closing in, however, going past 2 minutes later in 4h 14m. All four English runners had made remarkable progress on the run from the top of Inhanga. Following Smith, came the rest of the English team, Buckingham (4h 19m), Linstead (4h 21m) and Turner (4h 26m). Steyn (4h 28m) and Madel (4h 31m) were the next South Africans.

By the approaches to Umlaas Road, Smith had reduced the deficit to 200 yards. A mile after Umlaas Road, the most dramatic moment of the race occurred. After leading for 42 miles, Mekler was passed by the flying Smith.

Smith quickly stretched the gap back to Mekler and the question being asked was, how would he cope with Polly’s? With a lead of 5 minutes when he arrived at the foot, Smith negotiated the monstrous hill with ease.

Would he beat 6 hours? That was the question now being asked.

From the top of Polly Shortt’s, it was plain sailing and Smith entered the Collegians’ Club to finish in 5h 57m 5s; failing by 33 seconds to establish a new Best Time. Mekler arrived in 6h 4m 4s to be followed by the rest of the visitors. Don Turner finished 3rd (6h 7m 8s), Buckingam, 4th (6h 8m 26s) and Linstead 5th (6h 10m 39s).

RESULT

1st John Smith England

5h 57m 05s

2nd Jackie Mekler South Africa 6h 04m 04s
3rd Don Turner England 6h 07m 08s
4th Tom Buckingham England 6h 08m 26s
5th Ron Linstead England 6h 10m 39s
6th Charlie Chase South Africa 6h 30m 42s
7th Fritz Madel South Africa 6h 33m 13s
8th Frikkie Steyn South Africa 6h 43m 44s
9th Mercer Davies South Africa 6h 47m 19s
10th Geoff Watt South Africa 6h 49m 02s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Eddie Gore (42) South Africa

7h 29m 55s

2nd Basil Harrison (41) South Africa 7h 48m 10s
3rd Allan Gillespie (41) South Africa 7h 57m 17s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Liege Boulle (53) South Africa

8h 30m 04s

1963 Down (38th Race)
Date Friday, 31 May
Weather Mild at start to hot at midday.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 3/27
DBN 5/25
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Royal Durban Light Infantry Drill Hall, Greyville Racecourse
Time Limit 11 Hours
Approx. Distance 56 M
Entries 228
Starters 224
Finishers – Total 149
Men 149
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 143
% Finishers / Starters 66.5

THE MENS RACE

Jackie Mekler was regarded as the one to watch but, with a group of proven performers up against him, he would have to run well to win. Men like Frikkie Steyn, Manie Kuhn, Mercer Davies and Fritz Madel were all potential winners.

Steyn immediately took the early initiative and stormed into the lead, reaching the  Tumble Inn Tea Room in 50 minutes. Following him was Mekler, some 50 seconds behind. Then, in close order, were Pieter de Villiers, Davies, Kuhn and Madel. All the big names were already in the key positions. On the long grind up to Umlaas Road, both Mekler and the strongly running de Villiers, went past the tiring Steyn.

Mekler came through Camperdown in 1h 29m 47s with de Villers (1h 32m 7s), Steyn (1h 32m 42s) and Davies (1h 33m 10s) next. Davies passed Steyn on the outskirts of Cato Ridge to move into 3rd position. Going through the village, Mekler held a 2-minute lead over de Villiers, who was a further minute ahead of Davies. Then came Kuhn and Madel.

Untroubled on the steep pull up Inchanga, Mekler entered Drummond in a wonderful 2h 45m 25s; a new Best Time for the first half of the race. Davies passed de Villiers on Inchanga and was the next arrival at the halfway stage in 2h 49m 10s, with de Villiers (2h 49m 58s), Madel and Kuhn (2h 54m 25s) and a fading Steyn (2h 55m 21s) following.

With Drummond behind him, de Villiers, the surprise man in the field, turned on the pace and passed Davies on the hilly stretch to Hillcrest. He was also gaining on Mekler, who was showing signs of going through a bad patch. At Kloof, he trailed Mekler by 50 seconds and, on the big descent of Field’s Hill, he closed in dramatically and, as the pair ran onto the undulating Pinetown flats, de Villiers was only 30 yards behind. Mekler, realising the danger, drew away slightly, passing the checkpoint in 4h 28m 50s, with de Villiers following in 4h 29m 10s. Davies (4h 35m 18s), Madel (4h 39m 57s) and Kuhn (4h 43m) completed the minor positions.

Despite his sensational time over the fist half of the race to Drummond, Mekler had now fallen 1m 15s behind Wally Hayward’s time in the record-breaking 1953 race. After Pinetown, Mekler found new sources of energy and gradually drew away from a, now tiring, de Villiers and started regaining vital seconds on the record. At Tollgate, it still hung in the balance, but by forcing tired muscles to respond down Berea and Old Dutch Roads, Mekler ran across the finish line at the RDLI Drill Hall on the Greyville Racecourse in a new Best Time time of 5h 51m 20s. He now held the Best Times for both the Up and Down Runs, to share a feat with Hayward in 1954 and Arthur Newton in 1925.  

RESULT

1st Jackie Mekler South Africa

5h 51m 20s

New Best Time Down

2nd Pieter de Villiers South Africa 5h 58m 45s
3rd Fritz Madel South Africa 6h 08m 05s
4th Manie Kuhn South Africa 6h 18m 26s
5th Tim Blankley South Africa 6h 23m 17s
6th Mercer Davies South Africa 6h 23m 59s
7th Charlie Chase South Africa 6h 26m 32s
8th Henry Greyling South Africa 6h 39m 15s
9th Eddie Craig South Africa 6h 43m 29s
10th Marty Heunis South Africa 6h 55m 04s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Eddie Gore (43) South Africa

7h 03m 56s

2nd Allan Gillespie (42) South Africa 7h 26m 26s
3rd Eddie Pritchard (44) South Africa 7h 42m 36s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Liege Boulle (54) South Africa

7h 58m 15s

2nd Shanley (51) South Africa 9h 10m 23s
3rd Mickey Doo (54) South Africa 9h 51m 32s
1964 Up (39th Race)
Date Monday, 1 June
Weather Cool to warm with scattered cloud.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 4/21
DBN 10/23
Start Venue/Time Durban City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Collegians’ Club Oval
Time Limit 11 Hours
Approx. Distance 54 M
Entries 288
Starters 272
Finishers – Total 205
Men 205
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 199
% Finishers / Starters 75.4

THE MENS RACE

As would be expected, with three wins, and both the Up and Down Best Times in 1960 and 1963, Jackie Mekler was the firm favourite. The Old Guard, however, were all there to spring a surprise if he faltered. Mercer Davies, Charlie Chase, Frikkie Steyn, Fritz Madel, Manie Kuhn, Andy Greening and Nick Raubenheimer…

On a chilly morning, unknown Marty Heunis, led the field up Berea Road to Tollgate with Mekler, Greening, Kuhn and Madel close behind. Mekler took the lead at 45th Cutting and led the lengthening field over Cowie’s Hill and into Pinetown in 1h 30m, from Kuhn (1h 31m), Frank Pearce (1h 33m), Madel (1h 34m), Greening (1h 35m) and Chase (1h 36m).

On the long climb up Field’s Hill to Kloof, Mekler extended his lead over Kuhn to 3 minutes. Mekler maintained his steady pace and still led a compact field at Emberton, passing the village in 2h 10 m, with Kuhn (2h 13m), Pearce (2h 14m), Madel (2h 16m), Chase and Greening (2h 17m) and Davies (2h 18) in close attendance.

On the hard slog up Botha’s Hill, Kuhn closed the gap slightly, but Mekler was still out in front as he ran through the midpoint at Drummond where the order was Mekler (3h 8m 40s), Kuhn (3h 10m 27s), Davies (3h 16m 35s), Pearce and Madel together (3h 18m), Chase (3h 19m) and Raubenheimer (3h 22m).

Mekler appeared to be full of running over Inchanga, through Harrison, Cato Ridge and Camperdown which he reached in 4h 24m. Kuhn was running a fine race and was timed at 4h 27m. Chase arrived a further 13 minutes later. There was no stopping Mekler, however, and at the foot of Polly Shortt’s, he had increased the gap between himself and Kuhn to 6 minutes.

He strode strongly up the tortuous hill and ran unhindered to the Collegians’ Club. He missed the Best Time by 13m 22s, but his performance rewarded him with a 4th victory.

Kuhn had remained in 2nd position since the outskirts of Durban while Chase worked his way through the field for a well deserved Bronze Medal.

RESULT

1st Jackie Mekler South Africa

6h 09m 54s

2nd Manie Kuhn South Africa 6h 19m 37s
3rd Charlie Chase South Africa 6h 36m 19s
4th Fritz Madel Switzerland 6h 46m 22s
5th Frank Pearce South Africa 6h 49m 31s
6th Nick Raubenheimer South Africa 6h 50m 57s
7th Andy Greening South Africa 6h 55m 17s
8th P.T. Shrimpton South Africa 7h 06m 25s
9th Henry Greyling South Africa 7h 07m 40s
10th J.A. Dean South Africa 7h 11m 30s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Nick Raubenheimer (41) South Africa

6h 50m 57s

2nd Eddie Pritchard (45) South Africa 7h 34m 34s
3rd Allan Gillespie (43) South Africa 7h 50m 50s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Liege Boulle (55) South Africa

8h 47m 31s

2nd Errol Shanley (52) South Africa 8h 49m 25s
3rd Mickey Doo (55) South Africa 10h 13m 25s
1965 Down (40th Race)
Date Monday, 31 May
Weather Very cold with heavy, continuous rain all day.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 8/10
DBN 12/14
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Royal Durban Light Infantry Drill Hall, Greyville Racecourse
Time Limit 11 Hours
Approx. Distance 56 M
Entries 433
Starters 387
Finishers – Total 284
Men 284
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 278
% Finishers / Starters 73.4

THE MENS RACE

The worst nightmare imaginable greeted the organisers and runners when they woke from their slumbers on Monday, 31 May.

The heavens had opened and it was bucketing down in torrents… and it remained so for the entire day… until the last straggler had dragged his saturated body across the finish line in Durban. In addition, a bitterly cold wind blew over the exposed hilltops between Inchanga and Kloof, making conditions on the road highly unpleasant for the runners.

One runner, perhaps, may not have felt too uncomfortable in the conditions. He was Bernard Gomersall, who was flown out by the Road Runners Club of England to attempt emulating the winning feat of John Smith in 1962.

Manie Kuhn set a cracking pace from the gun and led Tim Blankley and Ted Craig by 2 minutes as he went over the top of Polly Shortt’s. Kuhn was moving effortlessly and after the long pull up to Umlaas Road, which he reached in 1h 20m, he had extended his lead over Blankley and Craig who were still lying 2nd and 3rd respectively. Davies had moved closer, with Gomersall and Mekler on his heels.

Running conditions, with a cold wind, and rain falling incessantly, were far from ideal. Kuhn still led the pack at Camperdown where he checked in with 1h 41m on the clock. Next through in 1h 42m were Blankley and Craig. They were followed by the quartet, Mekler, Madel, Davies and Gomersall in 1h 43m.

At Cato Ridge, Kuhn was still looking extremely relaxed with a 3-minute lead over the group of Mekler, Gomersall and Davies. Craig, Blankley and Madel had dropped back as the leaders maintained a cracking pace.

There was no let-up as Kuhn and his pursuers disappeared into the rain and mist enshrouded Inchanga Bank.

Kuhn was the first to reappear on the Drummond side passing though halfway in 2h 48m 15s. Davies had made great strides through the mist and arrived in 2h 50m 47s with Gomersall just 5 seconds behind. Mekler, experiencing a bad time from Inchanga all the way to Botha’s Hill, had drifted back, coming past in 4th place in 2h 52m 4s.

The race was now on. Davies, with Gomersall at his shoulder, began inching away at Kuhn’s lead. They finally passed him just before Gillitts. Gomersall surged and went to the front as the entered Kloof. He moved further away on the drop down Field’s Hill and was clocked at Pinetown in 4h 23m 15s. Davies was next (4h 26m 57s) with Kuhn, 3rd in 4h 27m 25s. A grim, drawn Mekler passed by in 4h 32m 20s.

Gomersall, revelling in the ‘English’ conditions, was looking so good, that it appeared unlikely that anyone would catch him and from this point, he was the only man in the race. Changes were, however, taking place in the pouring rain behind him. Kuhn went past a tiring Davies on Cowie’s Hill. From the top of the hill, Mekler looked across the valleys towards Durban. He summoned new reserves and set off after the leader. He soon overtook Davies and, after a tough, much longer haul, reeled in Kuhn, but is was evident that Gomersall was away and would never be threatened.

The only unanswered question now, was would Gomersall lower Mekler’s Best Time  for the Down Run? All the way in from Tollgate, the record was always on, but only marginally so, and when Gomersall ran into the RDLI Ground, there were as many eyes on stopwatches as there were on him.

After a wonderful performance, in atrocious conditions, he made it by just 11 seconds.

Mekler, once again, came in under 6 hours.

RESULT

1st Bernard Gomersall England

5h 51m 09s

New Best Time Down

2nd Jackie Mekler South Africa 5h 56m 19s
3rd Manie Kuhn South Africa 6h 04m 24s
4th Mercer Davies South Africa 6h 08m 44s
5th Clive Crawley South Africa 6h 16m 16s
6th Eddie Craig South Africa 6h 18m 31s
7th Charlie Chase South Africa 6h 19m 24s
8th Fritz Madel South Africa 6h 33m 35s
9th Henry Greyling * South Africa 6h 40m 43s
9th Ray Molver * South Africa 6h 40m 43s

* Finished together

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Eddie Pritchard (46) South Africa

6h 44m 08s

2nd Eddie Gore (45) South Africa 7h 01m 03s
3rd Ernest Venter (43) South Africa 7h 01m 23s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Liege Boulle (56) South Africa

7h 47m 20s

2nd Mickey Doo (56) South Africa 8h 39m 11s
3rd Errol Shanley (53) South Africa 8h 48m 22s