1980 - 1985

2nd screen

1980 Down (55th Race)
Date Saturday, 31 May
Weather Cold at start, warming to mild late morning with clouds mid afternoon.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 4/20
DBN 14/20
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Kingsmead Stadium
Time Limit 11 Hours
Official Distance 89.900 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 15.937 km/hr (3m 46s /km)
Women 12.316 km/hr (4m 53s /km)
Entries 4710
Starters 4208
Finishers – Total 3977
Men 3942
Women 35
Medals – Gold 10
Silver 617
Bronze 3350
% Finishers / Starters 94.5

THE MENS RACE

‘Johnny Halberstadt is the one to beat.’

The entire press world was all on the same bandwagon. Every newspaper in the country was echoing each other… and why shouldn’t they? In the past year, he had broken the All-Africa standard marathon record with a 2h 12m 19s on the Durban beachfront and seven weeks before Comrades he won the 56-kilometre Pieter Korkie ultra.

1979 Winner, Piet Vorster, had done nothing since, and Alan Robb had a disappointing run of results that year.   

On a cold, bracing morning, leading the avalanche of runners down Polly Shortt’s, was Aaron Gumbi, Elliot Dlamini, Chris Mkhize and Gordon Kruger. On the long 6-kilometre climb to the water tower at Umlaas Road, the only change in the lead positions was that Lawrence Hlope had moved into 3rd place. The ‘big names’ were nowhere to be seen.    

Going through Camperdown, Hlope had gone to the front. The lead times were Hlope (1h 33m 10s), Gumbi and Dlamini (1h 33m 35s) and Mkhize (1h 34m 20). Some 700 metres off the pace, Robb, Halberstadt, Geoff Bacon and Vorster went past together in 1h 35m 52s.

Hlope still led from Gumbi and Dlamini at Cato Ridge. Running strongly, 800 metres behind the leader, but with only metres between them, were Robb, Halberstadt, Malcolm Ball and Bacon. Behind them, Deon Holzhauzen was moving into the picture.

The big change came at Harrison Flats. Hlope was tiring and the Robb group had caught the fading Gumbi and Dlamini duo. Hlope climbed Inchanga well enough but Holzhauzen, now in 2nd place was catching him.

He went to the front on the run down to the halfway mark at Drummond where the order was Holzhauzen (2h 45m 16s), Hlope (2h 45m 45s), Bacon (2h 46m 00s), Hoseah Tjale (2h 46m 25s), Robb (2h 46m 27s), Ball and Halberstadt (2h 46m 50s) and Vorster (2h 47m 5s). Bruce Fordyce went through in 19th position in 2h 53m.

Going past Kearsney College, Bacon held a narrow lead over Tjale and Holzhauzen with Robb, Halberstadt and Vorster not too far back. With the pace quickening, Holzhauzen was weakening and Robb went past him in the saddle between Botha’s Hill and Hillcrest. Approaching the centre of the village, Tjale went ahead of Bacon. Robb was a minute behind, and Halberstadt a further 30 seconds adrift. Fordyce had climbed up to 5th place at this stage and looked threatening.

The race was now wide open with 30 bone-jarring, downhill kilometres to the finish. Tjale blazed the trail through Gillitts, leading from Bacon, Halberstadt and Robb. Tjale had built a substantial lead by the time he went through Kloof where he was 1m 14s ahead of Bacon. Robb was next, 3 minutes behind the leader, with Ball in 4th place.

Thriving on the long downhill, Tjale was greeted by a massive crowd in Pinetown where the order was Tjale (4h 13m 20s), Robb (4h 15m 50s), Ball (4h 16m 2s), Joe Claase (4h 18m 17s) and Fordyce (4h 18m 41s). Cowie’s Hill was the downfall of Tjale. He laboured up the hill and at the top, his lead over Robb was down to 1m 52s. Tjale held on gamely but at the exit to Westville, Robb was just 20 metres away. Moments later, Tjale stopped, clutching his cramping thighs allowing Robb to hit the front.

Entering Durban, first Ball and then Fordyce went past the struggling Tjale. At 45th Cutting, the order was Robb (5h 5m 49s), Ball (5h 7m 14s) and Fordyce (5h 8m 16s). Robb never slackened on his way down Berea Road, even though Fordyce opened the throttle and overhauled Ball metres before the entrance to Kindsmead Stadium.

But it was Robb’s day and he earned a deserved 4th victory. Fordyce out-sprinted Ball to take second place.

RESULT

1st Alan Robb South Africa 5h 38m 25s
2nd Bruce Foryce South Africa 5h 40m 31s
3rd Malcolm Ball South Africa 5h 40m 45s
4th Tim Briscoe South Africa 5h 46m 20s
5th Tony Abbott South Africa 5h 47m 27s
6th Hoseah Tjale South Africa 5h 50m 12s
7th Dave Ryan South Africa 5h 52m 46s
8th Joe Claase South Africa 5h 53m 33s
9th Tammy Bilibana South Africa 5h 56m 49s
10th Ian Emery South Africa 5h 57m 42s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Dave Ryan (41) South Africa 5h 52m 46s
2nd Calie Beneke (43) South Africa 6h 04m 00s
3rd Henry Spires (40) South Africa 6h 19m 00s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Jarrie van Jaarsveld (54) South Africa

7h 06m 00s

2nd Charlie Chase (52) South Africa 7h 07m 00s
3rd Roy Wise (51) South Africa 7h 08m 00s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Doug Horton (65) South Africa

8h 26m 50s

New Best Time Down

2nd Eddie Pritchard (61) South Africa 8h 30m 00s
3rd Allen Boyce (66) South Africa 8h 50m 00s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

The Old Guard was gone… it was as if they had evaporated… and a new generation descended on the Comrades scene.

A record field of 48 lined up outside the City Hall. Among them was 1979 winner, Jan Mallen. There was also Gail Ingram who broke the Two Oceans record over Easter, and the speedy Cape Town student Isavel Roche-Kelly. One who, also, could not be overlooked was three-time winner, Lettie van Zyl.

The early leader, as the field left the city, was Cheryl Jorgensen. Two novices, Isavel Roche-Kelly and Ralie Smit, were tucked in close behind. Roche-Kelly moved ahead of Smit on the arduous climb up to the highest point at Umlaas Road.  Over the hills through to Drummond, Jorgensen gradually built a slender lead, but Roche-Kelly was never more than a few minutes behind. The two front runners steadily increased the distance between themselves and Smit. Jorgensen led through Hillcrest, Kloof and Pinetown, but on the climb up Cowie’s Hill, Roche-Kelly, slowly, began making inroads into the distance separating her from the leader.

Passing through Westville, Roche-Kelly caught sight of Jorgensen and 2 kilometres further on, 10 kilometres from the finish, she wrested the lead. At that point, it was race over. Jorgensen hung on gamely but the honours went to Roche-Kelly who entered the finish stadium to become the first women earn a Silver Medal with a stunning new Down Record on 7h 18m. Jorgensen followed 4 minutes later, also going under the Silver barrier of 7h 30m.

RESULT

1st Isavel Roche-Kelly * South Africa

7h 18m 00s New Best Time Down

2nd Cheryl Jorgensen South Africa 7h 22m 00s
3rd Ralie Smit South Africa 7h 50m 00s
4th Gail Ingram South Africa 7h 52m 00s
5th Joan Clark South Africa 8h 04m 00s
6th Clara Faure South Africa 8h 10m 00s
7th Marie-Jean Duyvejonck South Africa 8h 39m 00s
8th Yvonne Sumner South Africa 8h 43m 00s
9th Paddy Williams South Africa 8h 48m 00s
10th Laura Hofer South Africa 8h 49m 50s

* First Sub-8:00 and Sub-7:30 Down Run. Isavel Roche-Kelly was killed in a cycling accident in Northern Ireland during July 1984.

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Yvonne Sumner (45) South Africa 8h 43m 00s
2nd Alet Ten Tusscher (45) South Africa 8h 55m 00s
3rd Lettie van Zyl (47) South Africa 9h 20m 00s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Anna Villet (53) South Africa

9h 58m 00s New Best Time Down

1981 Up (56th Race)
Date Monday, 1 June
Weather Crisp clear morning. Mild cloudless day.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 5/20
DBN 13/22
Start Venue/Time Durban City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Jan Smuts Stadium
Time Limit 11 Hours
Official Distance 89.700 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 15.948 km/hr (3m 46s /km)
Women 13.302 km/hr (4m 31s /km)
Entries 4532
Starters 3924
Finishers – Total 3659
Men 3600
Women 59
Medals – Gold 10
Silver 426
Bronze 3223
% Finishers / Starters 93.2

THE MENS RACE

“It will be Robb. He’s a four-time winner… and the defending Champion.”

“No one can match the Fordyce finish.”

Long before race-day, the first two positions were fixed. Although no one knew the exact order. Alan Robb and Bruce Fordyce were the names on everyone’s lips. There was also Johnny Halberstadt on many minds as well. He could not be ruled out. And then… distaster. Robb went down with a bad cold at the last moment.

On a crisp, clear morning, 3294 enthusiastic hopefuls were dispatched on their journey to the capital… 56 miles away.

Aaron Gumbi and Dudley Selby went under the Tollgate Bridge in 18 minutes. Reaching 45th Cutting in 30 minutes, the leading trio was Gumbi, Chris Mkhize and Andy Churchill. They still led at Westville in 46 minutes, but others who were moving closer were Dave Wright, David Motsie and the favoured Tony Abbott.

Churchill was first over Cowie’s Hill. Metres behind him were Gumbi and Mkhize. Then came a formidable group comprising Wright, Abbott, Graeme Fraser, Geoff Bacon, Halberstadt, Malcolm Ball and Robb. Gumbi and Mkhize went past Churchill on the downhill into Pinetown. Along the Pinetown Flats, Wright also passed Churchill and Abbott and Fraser were only 45 metres adrift.

Once over the massive Field’s Hill, the order was changing continuously. The first four at Kloof were Wright, Mkhize, Gumbi and Halberstadt. Reeling off the kilometres, Mkize reached Hillcrest with Wright only 12 seconds behind.  Another 50 seconds back came Bacon, Halberstadt and Joe Claase.

Moving steadily away from his chasers, Mkize was 35 seconds ahead of Wright at Kearsney College. On the drop into the Valley of a Thousand Hills at Drummond, Halberstadt and Claase continued their private battle while, a short way back, Fordyce and Ball were swapping places regularly. The positions at Drummond were Mkhize (2h 50m), Wright (2h 52m), Bacon, Halberstadt and Claase (2h 52m 45s) and Fordyce, Abbott and Fraser (2h 53m 30s).

Early pace is often paid for on Inchanga. By the top, Wright had closed slightly on Mkhize. Bacon, Halberstadt and Claase closed to within 40 seconds of Wright, who was clearly fading, and Fordyce made up 15 seconds on this trio. Mkhize picked up the pace on the circuitous section to Radnor Guest Farm. Fordyce had moved up a gear and, having passed Claase, Wright and Bacon in quick succession, moved into 2nd position. Halberstadt was in striking distance of the Claase trio, and was also looking to threaten Fordyce.

Leading through Cato Ridge, Mkhize was tiring, and his lead was down to 90 seconds from Fordyce and Halberstadt. Soon after, the pair, embroiled in a fierce battle, went past him. On the run to Camperdown, Halberstadt surged and went into a short-lived lead. But Fordyce was soon in front again. On the climb out of the village, Halberstadt fell back, leaving Fordyce out in front, on his own.

There was no stopping Fordyce now. He powered ahead, leading by 2m 15s at the Dardanelles. Polly Shortt’s never worried Fordyce and at the top, he was a full 5 minutes ahead of Halberstadt. On the monster hill, Abbott was making a late challenge and crested the hill in 3rd place.

With the record well within his grasp, Fordyce flew over the final six downhill kilometers to the Jan Smuts Stadium, to establish a new Best Time.

RESULT

1st Bruce Fordyce * South Africa

5h 37m 28s New Best Time Up

2nd Johnny Halberstadt South Africa 5h 46m 00s
3rd Tony Abbott South Africa 5h 52m 41s
4th Chris Mkhize South Africa 5h 53m 29s
5th Danny Biggs South Africa 5h 54m 08s
6th Graeme Fraser South Africa 5h 54m 12s
7th Geoff Bacon South Africa 5h 54m 50s
8th Dave Wright South Africa 5h 56m 02s
9th Dave Anderson South Africa 5h 57m 07s
10th Joe Claase South Africa 6h 03m 02s

* First Sub-5:45 Up Run

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Calie Beneke (44) South Africa

6h 10m 54s

2nd John Dixon (42) South Africa 6h 13m 33s
3rd Pieter de Villiers (40) South Africa 6h 37m 46s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Willie Mavuma (51) South Africa

7h 04m 00s

2nd Clive Crawley (50) South Africa 7h 13m 26s
3rd Lars Nayler (50) South Africa 7h 15m 05s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Eddie Pritchard (62) South Africa

8h 34m 11s

2nd Ross Ashington (61) South Africa 8h 55m 04s
3rd Ken Oglesby (64) South Africa 8h 58m 14s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

The first three from 1980 were all on the start line. Isavel Roche-Kelly was the outright favourite after her new Down Record. Cheryl Jorgensen, with a sub-7h 30m was very much in with a chance, and Ralie Smit, although a fair way back in 3rd place, in 1980, could not be overlooked.

When the field had established itself, Roche-Kelly was the early leader at Westville. Next came Jorgensen, Lise Warren and Smit. Roche-Kelly led through Hillcrest with the chasing order unchanged and, by Drummond, she had established a substantial lead. The positions at halfway were Roche-Kelly in a very fast 3h 17m, Jorgensen (3h 37m), Warren (3h 40) and Smit (3h 42m).

Inchanga posed no threats to the leading women. Roche-Kelly increased her lead as she flew past Ethembeni School, Cato Ridge and Camperdown. Jorgensen consolidated her 2nd position while a torrid battle was being waged behind them for 3rd place.

Gail Ingram was having a storming run as she closed in on Pietermaritzburg. She went past Warren on Polly Shortt’s and drew inexorably closer to Smit. But in the end there were just not enough kilometres left and she failed by 15 seconds to catch Smit in her dash from the top of Polly’s. The battle for the minor places was so intense that at the death, 2m17s separated positions 3, 4 and 5.

But, as in 1980, the star of the day was Roche-Kelly. Her time of 6h 44m 35s meant she, not only, reduced the Up Record by an astonishing 1h 38m, but became the first woman to breach the 7-hour barrier.

RESULT

1st Isavel Roche-Kelly * South Africa

6h 44m 35s

 New Best Time Up

2nd Cheryl Jorgensen South Africa 7h 21m 55s
3rd Ralie Smit South Africa 7h 46m 34s
4th Gail Ingram South Africa 7h 46m 49s
5th Lise Warren South Africa 7h 48m 51s
6th Cheryl Hooke South Africa 8h 29m 44s
7th Clara Faure South Africa 8h 30m 17s
8th Lowell Fourie South Africa 8h 41m 32s
9th Priscilla Carlisle South Africa 8h 46m 26s
10th Helen Lucre South Africa 8h 50m 19s

* First Sub-7:00 and Sub-6:45 Up Run

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Paddy Williams (40) South Africa

8h 57m 11s

2nd Moose Ely (43) South Africa 8h 59m 32s
3rd Yvonne Sumner (46) South Africa 9h 32m 49s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Anna Villet (54) South Africa

9h 22m 22s

New Best Time Up

2nd Elizabeth Cavanagh (50) South Africa 10h 26m 15
1982 Down (57th Race)
Date Monday, 31 May
Weather Overcast with heavy drizzle at start, clearing to warm and sunny mid afternoon.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 12/17
DBN 15/20
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Kingsmead Stadium
Time Limit 11 Hours
Official Distance 91.400 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 16.416 km/hr (3m 39s /km)
Women 12.888 km/hr (4m 39s /km)
Entries 5501
Starters 4887
Finishers – Total 4602
Men 4500
Women 102
Medals – Gold 10
Silver 619
Bronze 3973
% Finishers / Starters 94.2

THE MENS RACE

The only ‘big name’ missing from the line-up was Johnny Halberstadt who had turned professional during the preceding year; thus rendering himself ineligible. With Bruce Fordyce and Alan Robb back, it promised to be a tough, thrilling fight.

And it was.

Also in the field were a string of top performers who could spring a surprise; men like Henry Nyembe, Chris Mkhize, Tony Abbott and Graeme Fraser.

A solid drizzle was falling as the huge, sodden field set off for the coast, more that 91 kilometres away. First to emerge out of the wet and dark, on the ascent of Polly Shortts were Johannes Tsetseng, Israel Kutoana and Derek Mazibuko. At the top of the hill, Mazibuko enjoyed a lead of a minute over the chasing mass. He increased his lead to 2m 30s by Umlaas Road.

Going into Camperdown, the order was Mazibuko (1h 22m), Testseng, Kutoana and Nyembe (all 1h 22m 40s), with Abbott, Fraser, Dave Wright, Mkhize, and Malcolm Ball (all 1h 23m). Robb was in a group 3 minutes back, with Fordyce in another bunch further adrift.

The order of the first four was unchanged at Cato Ridge, but Fordyce had moved to within 3 minutes of the leader. Leaving the village, a tiring Mazibuko was overtaken by Kutoana, Tsetseng and Nyembe. Inchanga was lost in a dense mist and the first to break through it was Nyembe who led into Drummond in 2h 48m 32s. Then came Fordyce, Robb, Wright, Abbott and Fraser.

On the climb to Alveston, the clouds started lifting and a few weak sunbeams made a welcome appearance. At Botha’s Hill, the clouds had almost disappeared and the morning warmed up.

So did the pace up front. Racing past Kearsney College, Robb surged, taking Fordyce and Nyembe with him. Hurtling down the big hill, Nyembe was forced to capitulate. Robb and Fordyce were together going through Hillcrest.

Exiting the village, with 33 kilometres remaining, most of which was downhill, Fordyce surged. It was the start of, probably, the greatest battle in Comrades history. Robb responded immediately.

Behind them, Fraser and Abbott went past Nyembe. 

Through Gillitts and Kloof, the pace was breakneck, almost foolhardy, with neither Fordyce nor Robb surrendering an inch until at the top of Field’s Hill, where Fordyce surged again. Robb did not go with him and trailed the leader by 150 metres at the bottom where the order was Fordyce (4h 8m 45s), Robb (4h 9m 45s), Wright (4h 11m 30s) with Fraser and Abbott (4h 11m 55s).     

In the centre of Pinetown, the flying Fordyce had extended his lead over Robb to 500 metres with Wright, looking weary, and the Fraser/Abbott duo next. By the top of Cowie’s Hill, a dejected-looking Robb was 4 minutes behind Fordyce.

From there on, it was Fordyce all the way, as he went further and further ahead. When he completed the final lap in Kingsmead Stadium he was 7 minutes clear of Robb.

Over the hilly section from Westville, into Durban, Fraser moved ahead of Abbott, and was gradually catching the tiring Robb.

But… it was not to be. At the finish, he was just 29 seconds short of the runner-up position.

RESULT

1st Bruce Fordyce South Africa

5h 34m 22s

2nd Alan Robb South Africa 5h 41m 26s
3rd Graeme Fraser South Africa 5h 41m 55s
4th Tony Abbott South Africa 5h 42m 32s
5th Dave Wright South Africa 5h 46m 49s
6th Piet Vorster South Africa 5h 50m 20s
7th Deon Holtzhausen South Africa 5h 52m 44s
8th Henry Nyembe South Africa 5h 53m 29s
9th Derrick Tivers South Africa 5h 55m 10s
10th Dave Anderson South Africa 5h 55m 25s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st John Dixon (42) South Africa

6h 08m 57s

2nd Riel Hugo (40) South Africa 6h 20m 15s
3rd Koos Sutherland (41) South Africa 6h 22m 25s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Corrie van Groeningen (50) South Africa

7h 01m 05s

2nd Lars Nayler (51) South Africa 7h 12m 00s
3rd Nic Collier (50) South Africa 7h 14m 19s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Ross Ashington (61) South Africa

7h 58m 50s 

New Best Time Down

2nd Allan Ferguson (60) South Africa 8h 19m 35s
3rd Dutchie De Boer (61) South Africa 8h 20m 01s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

With 1980 and 81 winner, Isavel Roche-Kelly a non-entrant, the runner-up from those two years, Cheryl Jorgensen, was the firm favourite.

Jorgensen wasted no time in setting the pace. She was first over Polly Shortt’s and reaching Camperdown in 1h 44m 52s, had a lead of 2 minutes over Lise Warren. Then followed Helen Lucre and Lynn Cresswell in quick succession.

Jorgensen was building an unassailable lead going through Drummond, Hillcrest and down to the bottom of Field’s Hill, which she reached in 5h 9m 40s. Next through was a tiring Warren (5h 38m 13s) and, coming along strongly, Ralie Smit (5h 44m 48s).

Going down Field’s Hill, Jorgensen appeared to be struggling. “It was a bad patch,” she said later. She ran through it, however, and by Pinetown her rhythm had returned and she ran untroubled over Cowie’s Hill and through Westville to the finish, earning her 3rd successive Silver Medal.

Warren recovered somewhat after Pinetown but had fallen a long way behind Jorgensen, but held on to 2nd position. Smit claimed 3rd place for the third successive year.

RESULT

1st Cheryl Jorgensen South Africa 7h 04m 59s
2nd Lise Warren South Africa 7h 52m 26s
3rd Ralie Smit South Africa 8h 01m 16s
4th Priscilla Carlisle South Africa 8h 03m 05s
5th Jennifer Saunders South Africa 8h 04m 14s
6th Lynne Spence South Africa 8h 11m 25s
7th Sandy Stevens South Africa 8h 12m 48s
8th Estie van Wyk South Africa 8h 14m 48s
9th Jean Cadman South Africa 8h 17m 33s
10th Hazel Hairs South Africa 8h 22m 13s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Paddy Williams (41) South Africa

8h 22m 40s

New Best Time Down

2nd Yvonne Sumner (47) South Africa 8h 23m 39s
3rd Hilda Weiland (43) South Africa 8h 48m 51s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Anna Villet (55) South Africa

9h 18m 38s

New Best Time Down

2nd Nell du Plessis (58) South Africa 10h 18m 45
3rd Elizabeth Cavanagh (51) South Africa 10h 48m 37
1983 Up (58th Race)
Date Tuesday, 31 May
Weather Mild to warm cloudless day.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 5/23
DBN 13/25
Start Venue/Time Durban City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Jan Smuts Stadium
Time Limit 11 Hours
Official Distance 87.700 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 15.937 km/hr (3m 46s /km)
Women 12.154 km/hr (4m 56s /km)
Entries 6636
Starters 5862
Finishers – Total 5365
Men 5205
Women 160
Medals – Gold 11
Silver 585
Bronze 4769
% Finishers / Starters 91.5

THE MENS RACE

The only question that needed answering was ‘Who will come second?’

It was a given that Bruce Fordyce would win again… and score a hat trick.

First to crest the 2-kilometre slog to Tollgate were Bernard Posholi, Johannes Makgotsi and Johannes Tsetseng. The trio were still leading at 45th Cutting but, on their heels was a group of recognised performers; Graeme Fraser, Piet Vorster and Alan Robb.

By Westville, the trio had surrendered first place to Gordon Shaw and 20 metres behind them came Robb. A group containing Fraser, Tony Abbott, Fordyce and Vorster were handily placed just 200 metres to their rear.

Changes in the lead positions occurred on the pull up Cowie’s Hill. Rakabaela Selkonyela reached the top first with Vorster and Shaw at his shoulder. These three were joined by Colin Goosen along the Pinetown Flats as they headed towards Field’s Hill. Going through Kloof, Vorster, Goosen and Fraser held a small lead. At Gillitts, Vorster had gone ahead on his own. Fordyce, Robb and Danny Biggs were running comfortably, not too far behind.

Running four abreast, on the incline into Hillcrest, were Goosen, Shaw, Fraser and Vorster, with Fordyce keeping them in sight. Botha’s Hill saw Vorster and Shaw leading with Goosen shadowing them. As the pair passed Kearsney College, Fordyce, who had been caught by Hoseah Tjale, was 300 metres behind.

As the leaders wound their way down to Drummond, the lead was rotating continuously. The first five past the halfway checkpoint were Goosen, Vorster, Fraser and Shaw together, with Biggs 45 metres back. Tjale and Fordyce trailed a further 300 metres behind.

As always, Inchanga brought changes in the order. Although the leading four held their positions, Fordyce and Tjale were on the move and both overtook Biggs before the crest. Once over the top Shaw surged, taking Fraser with him. Fordyce reached the top in 3rd place, 200 metres off the pace and well placed to mount a charge for the lead. His finishing kick was greatly feared.

Passing the Ethembeni School, Shaw led Fraser by 50 metres, who, in turn, had the Tjale/Foryce threat another 50 metres away.

A riveting battle was developing.

The pair passed Fraser at Radnor and were now only 20 metres adrift of Shaw. They caught him a few moments later at the Nagle Dam turn-off. Running at a shade under 16 kilometres per hour into Cato Ridge, the pace was beginning to show on Shaw.

Shaw, however, did not give in easily and, swapping surges with Fordyce, they ran 50 metres ahead of Tjale, with Fraser a further 300 metres back. Fordyce stamped his authority on the race and went ahead of Shaw just before Camperdown. Then disaster struck for Shaw. He crumpled to the ground with cramp and while receiving a massage from his attendants, both Tjale and Fraser went past.

At the Lion Park turn-off, Fordyce held a 6-minute lead over Tjale, 7 minutes over Fraser and 8m 30s over Vorster and Goosen. Shaw was back on the road, and though moving slowly, he appeared to be recovering from his mishap. Polly Shortt’s held no terrors for Fordyce. He sailed up, reaching the top 11 minutes before, a very tired, Fraser.

With Fordyce running to victory, drama of the highest degree was being played out on Polly’s. Fraser, clawing the air in agony, walking stiff-legged from severe cramps, stopped for a massage before hobbling on. Shaw had recovered and was coming along in fine fashion after his earlier setback. Tjale was struggling and Vorster was reduced to walking.

With the Up Record now a certainty, Fordyce was on track to breach the 5h 30m barrier for the Up Run. It would be close however. Running faster than 17 kilometres per hour along Washington, Oribi and Jesmond Roads, he missed the barrier by a mere 12 seconds but, in the process, reduced his own previous best time by 7m 16s.

Back down the road, the drama was unbearable. Fraser was battling, against debilitating cramp, to hold off Shaw, who was running cautiously to prevent a recurrence of the cramp that struck him down earlier. One hundred metres separated Fraser from Shaw as he turned into Jesmond Road, 2 kilometres from home. Shortly before turning into Jan Smuts Stadium, Shaw went into 2nd position. He beat Fraser by 32 seconds.

RESULT

1st Bruce Fordyce South Africa

5h 30m 12s

New Best Time Up

2nd Gordon Shaw South Africa 5h 45m 48s
3rd Graeme Fraser South Africa 5h 46m 20s
4th Tony Abbott South Africa 5h 54m 26s
5th Errol Ackerman South Africa 5h 55m 27s
6th Hoseah Tjale South Africa 5h 59m 25s
7th Piet Vorster South Africa 5h 59m 34s
8th John Dixon South Africa 6h 00m 17s
9th Tony Dearling South Africa 6h 00m 25s
10th Colin Goosen South Africa 6h 02m 14s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st John Dixon (43) South Africa

6h 00m 17s

New Best Time Up

2nd Pieter de Villiers (42) South Africa 6h 19m 59s
3rd Koos Sutherland (42) South Africa 6h 23m 41s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Corrie van Groeningen (51) South Africa

7h 02m 12s

2nd Lars Nayler (52) South Africa 7h 06m 17s
3rd Derek Kay (50) South Africa 7h 23m 57s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Allan Ferguson (61) South Africa

8h 19m 22s

2nd Arthur Wright (60) South Africa 8h 26m 14s
3rd Torgny Oehgren (61) South Africa 8h 26m 54s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

Cheryl Jorgensen, on the basis of her 1982 victory, was a clear favourite, although novice, Lindsay Weight, on the strength of recent performances over ultra distances, was considered a realistic threat.

Jorgensen went into an immediate lead but after 6 kilometres, was overhauled by Weight who was thought to have committed the novice’s cardinal sin; getting caught up in the hype and excitement and going out too fast, too soon. She soon settled into a comfortable running pace and led the field up Cowie’s Hill, through Pinetown and up Field’s Hill. Following her were Jorgensen and Lise Warren.

In mild, cloudless weather, Weight was the first woman over Botha’s Hill where the chasers were Warren, Jenny Wilson, Jorgensen and Gail Ingram. Over the downhill rollercoaster section to Drummond, Weight was holding her own and went through the midpoint ahead of Wilson, Warren and Jorgensen. Silver Medals were well within reach of the leaders, but there was little margin for error if anything went awry.

Weight was slowly building a substantial lead. By the Lion Park turn-off she held a 10-minute advantage over Wilson who had, a short distance back, gone ahead of Warren. Weight had promised herself a walk on Polly Shortt’s, but, in full glare of television cameras, was ‘obliged’ to keep running.

From the top of the monster hill, it was plain sailing for Weight. Wilson was running easily but was never in a position to challenge.

Weight and Wilson were both novices and although their times were slightly behind the existing record, they were in the forefront of the improving standard of women’s distance-running; brought about upon the realisation that the first 5 women came home in under 7h 30m.

RESULT

1st Lindsay Weight South Africa 7h 12m 56s
2nd Jenny Wilson South Africa 7h 23m 45s
3rd Gail Ingram South Africa 7h 27m 00s
4th Cheryl Jorgensen South Africa 7h 29m 41s
5th Moira Hornby South Africa 7h 29m 59s
6th Lise Warren South Africa 7h 32m 42s
7th Ralie Smit South Africa 7h 35m 36s
8th Hazel Hairs South Africa 7h 44m 36s
9th Audrey Steyn South Africa 7h 53m 37s
10th Priscilla Carlisle South Africa 7h 54m 14s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Paddy Williams (42) South Africa

8h 15m 33s

New Best Time Up

2nd Hilda Weiland (44) South Africa 8h 54m 33s
3rd Twinkle Toes Goodwin (47) South Africa 9h 22m 16s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Nell du Plessis (59) South Africa

10h 05m 10

2nd Anna Villet (56) South Africa 10h 37m 20
3rd Daphne Ledlie (50) South Africa 10h 42m 53
1984 Down (59th Race)
Date Friday, 1 June
Weather Very cold at start, warm and cloudless by mid morning.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB -2/21
DBN 10/22
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Kingsmead Stadium
Time Limit 11 Hours
Official Distance 89.750 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 16.452 km/hr (3m 39s /km)
Women 13.244 km/hr (4m 32s /km)
Entries 8513
Starters 7435
Finishers – Total 7105
Men 6842
Women 263
Medals – Gold 11
Silver 937
Bronze 6157
% Finishers / Starters 95.6

THE MENS RACE

Bruce Fordyce was the hottest pre-race favourite since Wally Hayward in the 50s and Arthur Newton in the 20s.

There were other very capable performers, all of whom could make things uncomfortable for the champion if he faltered at any stage. There were around 30 runners with real chances of earning one of the 10 Gold Medals on offer. Among them were Kevin Shaw, Willie Farrell, Mike Symonds and Bernard Rose, all of whom possessed tons of speed. Hoseah Tjale, Graeme Fraser and Bob de la Motte were proven stayers. Then there was Alan Robb, Geoff Bacon and Chris Reyneke lingering on the periphery.

An epic battle was anticipated, even though it would be a major upset if Fordyce did not win.

Velemseni Nyandeni was the early leader. He was 300 metres ahead of a massed group at the top of Polly Shortt’s. After 16 kolimetres, at the Lion Park turn-off, he was holding on to his lead, but among an assorted group, a minute behind, were Shaw and Reyneke. Four minutes later came the group with all the big guns.

At Cato Ridge, Symonds (1h 53m 29s) had gone to the front with Reyneke and Shaw on his heels. Hidden in the amorphous group that followed, were all the runners that would contest the showdown, 4 hours later. Going up Inchanga, Reyneke went ahead of Shaw, while de la Motte broke clear of his group.

Reaching Drummond in 2h 44m 20s, Reyneke was followed by Shaw in 2h 45m 37s. de la Motte was through in 2h 48m 14s, while Fordyce, in a loose group, was clocked at 2h 50m 2s.

Pounding ahead, through the haze in the Valley of a Thousand Hills and over the hilly section to Botha’s Hill, Reyneke maintained his lead. de la Motte caught Shaw at Kearsney College. The order at Hillcrest was Reyneke (3h 23m 30s), de la Motte (3h 25m 15s), Shaw (3h 26m 45s) and Fordyce (3h 27m 10s). Over the gentle downhill to Kloof, de la Motte caught a quick glance of Reyneke, 100 metres ahead and then inherited’ the lead as Reyneke dashed into the bushes at the side of the road. Entering the village, Fordyce passed Shaw to move into 3rd position.

de la Motte led the charge through Pinetown in 4h 10m 54s, with Reyneke and Fordyce, 2m 10s behind the leader, in pursuit. Reyneke tired quickly on Cowie’s Hill. Fordyce, making his move, was lying 2nd as he commenced the descent to Westville and set out after the flying leader. However, the pace was telling on de la Motte and Fordyce was closing the gap inexorably. Coming out of the village, de la Motte’s lead was down to 55 seconds and, with Fordyce charging, the distance between the two was diminishing with every stride.

At 45th Cutting, Fordyce trailed by 30 seconds and, shortly thereafter, sailed into the lead. Picking up the pace even more, it became apparent that, as he dashed over Tollgate, a new record was a possibility. Never faltering over the run-in after an epic fight-back, he entered Kingsmead Stadium with a new Best Time behind his name.

RESULT

1st Bruce Fordyce South Africa

5h 27m 18s

New Best Time Down

2nd Bob de la Motte South Africa 5h 30m 59s
3rd Chris Reyneke South Africa 5h 34m 39s
4th Hoseah Tjale South Africa 5h 37m 24s
5th Danny Biggs South Africa 5h 47m 11s
6th Deon Holtzhausen South Africa 5h 48m 14s
7th Graeme Fraser South Africa 5h 48m 22s
8th Arthur Lemos South Africa 5h 48m 58s
9th Eric Bateman South Africa 5h 50m 37s
10th Kevin Shaw South Africa 5h 51m 56s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st John Dixon (44)) South Africa

6h 04m 00s

2nd Calie Beneke (47) South Africa 6h 07m 27s
3rd Trevor Metcalfe (40) South Africa 6h 08m 57s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Casper Steyn (50) South Africa

7h 01m 35s

2nd Lars Nayler (53) South Africa 7h 04m 12s
3rd Tony Sukel (51) South Africa 7h 13m 00s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Uys Fick (60) South Africa

7h 59m 33s

2nd Allan Ferguson (62) South Africa 8h 24m 50s
3rd Torgny Oehgren (62) South Africa 8h 39m 32s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

There was no outright favourite, although Lindsay Weight, in view of her win in 1983, had more support than the rest of the main contenders. The ever-dangerous Ralie Smit was back, while tri-athlete, Moira Hornby, was reported to be super-fit after a hard season campaigning overseas.

Weight and Smit were the first to emerge from the dark of the city, running alongside each other as they dropped down the hill after cresting Polly Shortt’s and remained in close proximity for the next few kilometres. On the long 6-kilometre climb to Umlaas Road, Smit moved ahead of Weight, and at Bayat’s Store she held a lead of 200 metres, but Weight overhauled the leader on Inchanga and led into Drummond in 3h 18m.

Following the two leaders into halfway were Cheryl Jorgensen, Gail Ingram, Anneline Pieterse and Priscilla Carlisle. The order remained unchanged across the hills to Kloof, where the early pace was beginning to manifest itself on the leaders. Weight, although losing a toenail, took the jarring Field’s Hill in her stride. Carlisle was cramping badly.

After Field’s Hill, Weight unearthed a new lease of life, so much so that the Down Record was in jeopardy. Running away from the rest of the main contenders and, with the many interposing hills being taken with ease, Weight entered Kingsmead Stadium with the previous best time in tatters, removing a massive 18 minutes off the previous best and, in the process, became the first woman to dip under 7 hours on the Down Run.

Carlisle hung on tenaciously and, despite repeated episodes of cramp, went past Ingram. Her gallant effort had, however, drained her of her final ounces of strength. Entering the home straight, she was reduced to walking. Then less than 50 metres from the line, amid agonising gasps from the crowd, her legs gave way. Try as she did to regain her footing, they would not respond.

“Crawl,” was on everyone’s lips.

She did and held off Ingram by 19 seconds to capture 2nd place.

RESULT

1st Lindsay Weight * South Africa

6h 46m 35s

New Best Time Down

2nd Priscilla Carlisle South Africa 7h 15m 32s
3rd Gail Ingram South Africa 7h 15m 51s
4th Sandy Stevens South Africa 7h 18m 04s
5th Cheryl Jorgensen South Africa 7h 20m 35s
6th Hazel Hairs South Africa 7h 24m 20s
7th Gail Buhrmann South Africa 7h 29m 08s
8th Lise Warren South Africa 7h 31m 43s
9th Glynnis Rawson South Africa 7h 34m 11s
10th Cynthia Bauer South Africa 7h 42m 35s

* First Sub-7:00 Down Run

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Gail Buhrmann (40) South Africa

7h 29m 08s

New Best Time Down

2nd Paddy Williams (43) South Africa 8h 00m 58s
3rd Hilda Weiland (45) South Africa 8h 23m 03s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Thelma Fouche (50) South Africa

9h 10m 32s

New Best Time Down

2nd Anna Villet (57) South Africa 9h 14m 35s
3rd Cathy Linger (51) South Africa 9h 59m 05s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Nell du Plessis (60) South Africa

10h 10m 55

New Best Time Down

1985 Up (60th Race) Diamond Jubilee Year
Date Friday, 31 May
Weather Mild and pleasant at start. Warming late morning with wind late afternoon.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 4/23
DBN 13/23
Start Venue/Time Durban City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Jan Smuts Stadium
Time Limit 11 Hours
Official Distance 88.626 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 15.779 km/hr (3m 48s /km)
Women 12.863 km/hr (4m 40s /km)
Entries 10109
Starters 9058
Finishers – Total 8190
Men 7890
Women 300
Medals – Gold 11
Silver 645
Bronze 7534
% Finishers / Starters 90.4

THE MENS RACE

Having equalled Arthur’s Newton’s 4 successive victories (1922 – 1925), the pressure was on Bruce Fordyce to attempt, and achieve, an unheard-of 5th. It would not be easy with all the main contenders from the previous year in the line-up.

The dash of unknowns and no-hopers into the early morning gloom had now become an accepted aspect of the start, while the real contenders played their usual waiting game.

The first of the recognised performers to reach Cowie’s Hill were Bruce Matthews, Aaron Jama and Chris Reyneke. Not too far back came Villiers Oberholzer, Gordon Shaw and Hoseah Tjale, with Fordyce just behind them.

Matthews and Jama remained together through Pinetown and up Field’s Hill, while Tjale Oberholzer and Shaw held their positions. The two leaders went through Winston Park in 2h 5m. Third through was Oberholzer (2h 5m 45s), with Tjale, 4th in 2h 6m 10s. The Fordyce group went by, 100 metres back.

On the climb up Botha’s Hill, the pace told on Jama, leaving Matthews with a clear lead at the top. Matthews maintained the lead and went through the Drummond checkpoint in 2h 50m with Tjale 50 metres adrift. Oberholzer was a further 50 metres behind in 3rd place. The Fordyce group trailed the leader by 800 metres.

Inchanga was the undoing of Matthews. He tired badly on the hill and, with 47 kilometres to go, Tjale went into the lead. Oberholzer was closing in on Matthews, while Danny Biggs, Fordyce and Derek Tivers were, in turn, all moving up on Oberholzer. With only 200 metres separating him from the pursuing group, Tjale led past the Inchanga Mission School but for the chasing group, consisting of Fordyce, Biggs, Tivers and Oberholzer, the race had reached a difficult stage. The positions within the group were changing rapidly and, during this tough period, they were driving each other on and, soon, all four had gone past Tjale. It was a case of who was going to crack first.

Vying for supremacy, Fordyce and Tjale broke from the pack, surging to the front. Running at 3m 36s to the kilometre, the pair built a substantial lead. Fordyce was the stronger runner on the hills and kept testing Tjale with regular surges. On the hill just before Camperdown, Tjale could not respond, allowing Fordyce to draw away into a lead that he would never relinquish. The race was clearly over once Fordyce had established his supremacy.

In the run in over the remaining hills, Fordyce steadily increased his lead over both Tjale and Tivers who filled the minor places.

RESULT

1st Bruce Fordyce South Africa

5h 37m 01s

2nd Hoseah Tjale South Africa 5h 42m 40s
3rd Derrick Tivers South Africa 5h 53m 53s
4th Ian Emery South Africa 5h 54m 53s
5th Dave Anderson South Africa 5h 55m 11s
6th Danny Biggs South Africa 5h 57m 55s
7th Boysie van Staden South Africa 5h 59m 14s
8th De Villiers Oberholzer South Africa 5h 59m 22s
9th Alan Robb South Africa 5h 59m 26s
10th Graeme Fraser South Africa 6h 00m 04s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Trevor Metcalfe (41) South Africa

6h 10m 35s

2nd Koos Sutherland (44) South Africa 6h 19m 41s
3rd John Dixon (45) South Africa 6h 27m 10s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Casper Steyn (51) South Africa

7h 17m 05s

2nd Lars Nayler (54) South Africa 7h 18m 31s
3rd Ernie Verrall (50) South Africa 7h 22m 40s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Allan Ferguson (63) South Africa

8h 26m 06s

2nd Ross Ashington (64) South Africa 9h 06m 38s
3rd Torgny Oehgren (63) South Africa 9h 15m 26s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

Lindsay Weight was seeking to be the second woman to achieve a hat trick of successive wins, but her task was not a forgone conclusion with the tough Helen Lucre in the field. Lucre had set new records in both the Two Oceans and the Pieter Korkie in the build-up to Comrades, so an intriguing battle was expected.

Lost in a mass of male runners, Lucre, Weight and Ralie Smit had worked their way into the lead as they climbed Field’s Hill. Lucre and Weight were running very easily and by the top of Botha’s Hill, Lucre held a slender 12-metre lead over Weight. Smit had fallen back on the descent after Field’s.

Lucre continued to forge ahead and went through Drummond in 3h 22m. Weight followed a minute later, with Priscilla Carlisle (3h 30m) having worked her way into the top three. Weight ran into problems after Inchanga and lost contact with Lucre who appeared to be heading for certain victory.

Lucre held her lead as she ran into Pietermaritzburg. Her aim, it appeared, was victory rather than the Up Record. Weight, however, was not to be denied a top finish. She crossed the line 8 minutes behind the winner, and held a 22-minute advantage over third-placed Carlisle.

RESULT

1st Helen Lucre South Africa 6h 53m 24s
2nd Lindsay Weight South Africa 7h 01m 23s
3rd Priscilla Carlisle South Africa 7h 24m 07s
4th Ralie Smit South Africa 7h 24m 56s
5th Hazel Hairs South Africa 7h 26m 07s
6th Marietta Sassenberg South Africa 7h 38m 39s
7th Anna Clemson South Africa 7h 52m 26s
8th Cheryl Torr South Africa 7h 56m 10s
9th Maureen Baird South Africa 8h 00m 04s
10th Ann Margolin South Africa 8h 03m 08s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Ralie Smit (40) South Africa

7h 24m 56s

New Best Time Up

2nd Paddy Williams (44) South Africa 8h 07m 25s
3rd Flora Cameron (40) South Africa 8h 29m 39s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Yvonne Sumner (50) South Africa

9h 06m 56s

New Best Time Up

2nd Anna Villet (58) South Africa 9h 38m 45s
3rd Thelma Fouche (51) South Africa 10h 14m 47

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Nell du Plessis (61) South Africa

10h 38m 44

New Best Time Up