2000 - 2005

2nd screen

2000 Up (75th Race)
Date Friday, 16 June
Weather Warm sunny day.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 9/24
DBN 11/23
Start Venue/Time Durban Post Office, West Street / 5:30
Finish Venue Scottsville Racecourse
Time Limit 12 Hours
Official Distance 87.300 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 16.088 km/hr (3m 44s /km)
Women 13.946 km/hr (4m 18s /km)
Entries 24552
Starters 23961
Finishers – Total 20016
Men 16716
Women 3300
Medals – Gold 20
Silver 695
Bill Rowan 3281
Bronze 16020
% Finishers / Starters 83.5

THE MENS RACE

If bookmakers had their way, there is little doubt that the defending Up Run champion, Dimitri Grishin, would have been installed as the odds-on, pre-race favourite. All the smart money would have been cast his way in view of him having won the previous two Up Runs. Others that would have been highly placed in the betting were Alexei Volgin and Vladimir Kotov. None of the top South African contingent was considered a threat to the East Europeans and, as the massive field left Durban in a trouble-free start, this view prevailed. Once the field crossed the city boundary, the early lead group comprised Volgin, Grishin, Grigoriy Murzin and Kotov and, although they interchanged positions as the race progressed up Cowie’s Hill, through Pinetown and up Field’s Hill, three South Africans, Walter Nkosi, Andrew Kelehe and Butiki Jantjies, had gone out with them.

On the rollercoaster drop from Field’s Hill to Drummond, Murzin broke free and reached the halfway point in 2h 43m 56s.

The chasing quintet, in close order, were clocked through halfway, at Drummond, in 2h 46m. The intimidating Inchanga failed to break any of them but, gradually, the changes commenced on the approach to Cato Ridge where Jantjies withdew. Nkosi fell off the pace shortly thereafter and ultimately out of contention. Going through Camperdown, it was clear that Kelehe was not running as easily as he had been earlier, and Murzin was rapidly being reeled in. Before he reached the highest point, near the water tower at Umlaas Road, he had surrended the lead.

The long descent to the bridge at Mpusheni brought no overall change between the three leaders but, with two big hills, Ashburton and Polly Shortt’s, beckoning, and knowing his ability as a climber, unless something spectacular occurred, it seemed that Grishin was a certain winner.

Then something spectacular, and unexpected, occurred. On the short drop from Ashburton, to the foot of Polly’s, Kotov pounced. Grishin failed to respond and, on the hill itself, Volgin also passed Grishin.

By now, Kotov was truly flying and, while the order over the final six kilometers remained unchanged, he breasted the tape, at the Scotsville Race Course, in a time of 5h 25m 33s; a new Best Time.

RESULT

1st Vladimir Kotov Belarus

5h 25m 33s New Best Time Up

2nd Alexei Volgin Russia 5h 27m 08s
3rd Dmitri Grishin Russia 5h 32m 47s
4th Donovan Wright South Africa 5h 35m 37s
5th Andrew Kalehe South Africa 5h 36m 32s
6th Fusi Nhlapo South Africa 5h 37m 46s
7th Walter Nkosi South Africa 5h 40m 18s
8th Don Wallace Australia 5h 42m 49s
9th Mikhail Kokorev Russia 5h 43m 15s
10th Anatoliy Korepanov Russia 5h 44m 38s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Vladimir Kotov (42) Belarus

5h 25m 33s New Best Time Up

2nd Anatoliy Korepanov (41) Russia 5h 44m 38s
3rd Peter Camenzind (48) Switzerland 5h 57m 49s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Hannes Meyer (54) South Africa

6h 56m 29s

2nd Robert Edouard-Betsy 51) South Africa 7h 13m 53s
3rd Sam Damane (50) South Africa 7h 26m 12s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Danny Shongwe (60) South Africa 7h 40m 37s
2nd Calie Beneke (64) South Africa 7h 55m 53s
3rd Erwin Remmele (63) Germany 7h 58m 02s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

Although it was eleven years since her sensational 5h 54m 43s in the 1989 Down Run, Frith van der Merwe was still the darling, and sole South African hope, of the local supporters. Whether she could overcome the new ‘foreign invasion’ was uncertain.

Maria Bak, winner in 1995, and Birgit Lennartz, winner in 1999, were both in the line-up and neither could be discounted as being up there when the race for line-honours began.

First to emerge on the early climb to Toll Gate, was Comrades novice, Natalia Volgina. She retained the lead through Pinetown, up Field’s Hill and through Hillcrest, increasing the distance between herself and her chasers, but the first signs of fatigue were showing. It was clear that, on the climb up Botha’s Hill, they were slowly reeling her in.

Volgina, however, still led through Drummond but Bak, who passed through in 3h 03m 52s, was within striking distance. Following the two front-runners through the halfway point was Elvira Kolpakova (3h 11m 02s), Lennartz (3h 13m 07s), and a tiring van der Merwe (3h 17m 35s). 

By this stage, Volgina’s race was, clearly, over and she retired from the race soon after Bak powered past her, on the climb up Inchanga. Such was the emphatic manner of Bak’s attack, there was little doubt who would be victorious as she drew effortlessly further away from the rest of her rivals.

As van der Merwe slipped out of contention, to eventually finish in eleventh position, Grace De Oliveira made a brave effort to keep the South African hopes alive. It was, however, a lost cause. Despite running down many of those ahead of her, she could not catch Bak and Lennartz, and she alone prevented a clean sweep by the visiting runners and was the only local competitor in the top six positions.

RESULT

1st Maria Bak Germany 6h 15m 35s
2nd Birgit Lennartz Germany 6h 33m 55s
3rd Grace De Oliveira South Africa 6h 38m 45s
4th Elvira Kolpakova Russia 6h 43m 35s
5th Valentina Shatyayeva Russia 6h 46m 54s
6th Marina Bychkova Russia 6h 47m 29s
7th Carol Mercer South Africa 6h 49m 00s
8th Tanja Schaefer Germany 6h 51m 57s
9th René du Plessis South Africa 6h 53m 51s
10th Madeleen Otto South Africa 6h 57m 42s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Maria Bak (41) Germany

6h 15m 35s

New Best Time Up

2nd Amor van Zyl (43) South Africa 7h 12m 59s
3rd Nancy Will (47) South Africa 7h 17m 07s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Claudia Preston-Thomas (51) South Africa

8h 19m 37s

2nd Lavinia Petrie (55) New Zealand 8h 25m 48s
3rd Fran Pocock (50) South Africa 8h 31m 12s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Annette Aliphon (60) South Africa

11h 19m 12s

2nd Greta Koerber (63) Germany 11h 30m 42s
3rd Judith Cohen (61) South Africa 11h 43m 20s
2001 Down (76th Race)
Date Friday, 16 June
Weather Cool at start. Mild to warm later.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 8/26
DBN 10/26
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Kingsmead Stadium
Time Limit 11 Hours
Official Distance 89.600 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 16.499 km/hr (3m 38s /km)
Women 14.378 km/hr (4m 10s /km)
Entries 15361
Starters 14125
Finishers – Total 11076
Men 9416
Women 1660
Medals – Gold 20
Silver 742
Bill Rowan 2502
Bronze 5250
Vic Clapham 7812
% Finishers / Starters 78.4

THE MENS RACE

Would the Men’s title ever return to South Africa?

That was the question most locals were asking. The last South African winner was Charl Mattheus in 1997. They were hoping that, somewhere, a local hero would emerge to halt the East European stranglehold that had developed. Surely an Arthur Newton, a Hardy Ballington, a Jackie Mekler, Wally Hayward, Alan Robb or a Bruce Fordyce must be lurking in the shadows, waiting for the opportunity, to restore the National pride and expectations.

But was there?

Once the huge field had stampeded out of Pietermaritzburg, and ignoring the no-hopers that that persistently went to the front before evaporating into oblivion within the first hour or two, all the main contenders gathered in a massive group that remained intact until the sharp end of the race arrived after 50 to 55 kilometres.

As the lead group commenced the drop down Inchanga to the midpoint at Drummond, Nick Bester and Charl Mattheus emerged at the front, giving rise to expectations that this might be South Africa’s day. The hopes were short-lived, however, when both retired soon after, on the climb to Alveston. Once more, a European victory loomed.

The inexperienced Fusi Nhlapo went into the lead, for a short while, going into Kloof. Russian, Leonid Shvetsov, had been running in the main group all the way to this point and when he went past Nhlapo, he seemed set for a win. Changes were taking place all through the lead group. Vladimir Kotov, an Up Run specialist, was enjoying his best Down Run and was looking ominous as he wove his way into contention. Also putting in an appearance, near the front, was 1999 runner-up, Andrew Kelehe.

A huge crowd of spectators waited anxiously at the top of the hill at 45th Cutting expecting to see Shvetsov leading the way into Durban. Delirium reigned when the first to appear over top of the testing climb was Andrew Kelehe, with little more than 7 kilometres to run. Next, to the crowd’s dismay, came Kotov, having passed Shvetsov before commencing the climb, running so fast it appeared inevitable that he would run Kelehe down within the next 2 kilometres.

Kelehe, however, had matters well in control. He entered Kingsmead Stadium amid jubilant scenes, a comfortable 37 seconds ahead of Shvetsov. Kotov’s threatening pace at 45th Cutting deserted him on the long downhill to the finish.

RESULT

1st Andrew Kelehe South Africa

5h 25m 52s

2nd Leonid Shvetsov Russia 5h 26m 29s
3rd Vladimir Kotov Belarus 5h 27m 22s
4th Alexei Volgin Russia 5h 27m 41s
5th Fusi Nhlapo South Africa 5h 30m 38s
6th Grigory Murzin Russia 5h 33m 00s
7th Dmitri Grishin Russia 5h 36m 04s
8th Sarel Ackermann South Africa 5h 36m 51s
9th Walter Nkosi South Africa 5h 38m 16s
10th Michael Mpotoane South Africa 5h 38m 43s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Vladimir Kotov (43) Belarus

5h 27m 22s New Best Time Down

2nd Isaac Tshabalala (41) South Africa 5h 59m 54s
3rd Peter Camenzind (49) Switzerland 6h 04m 07s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Zakiel Masha (51) South Africa 6h 31m 16s
2nd Michael Langa (53) South Africa 6h 48m 42s
3rd Lucas Mashianoke (50) South Africa 7h 03m 37s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Calie Beneke (65) South Africa 7h 55m 58s
2nd Manfred Schlimper (61) Germany 7h 56m 28s
3rd Caspar Greeff (66) South Africa 8h 17m 08s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

German, Maria Bak, was, as the defending champion, the short-odds favourite. Local hopes were pinned heavily on the shoulders of South Africa’s favourite Comrades daughter, Frith van der Merwe. It was an onerous burden, considering that she was clearly, long past her best. The only other local woman thought to have a real chance was perennial Grace De Oliviera, who had finished 3rd in 2000 and 2nd in 1999.

The distance separating the leaders over the first half of the race was never more than a few metres with Bak and Elvira Kolpakova in the vanguard as the race entered the critical second half. De Oliviera was trailing by 14 minutes going through the halfway checkpoint at Drummond. It would require a monumental effort to reel in the flying leaders on the run-in. Bak’s mental toughness, and knowledge of the course, led commentators to favour her as the eventual winner. However, as the two women raced for the finish in Durban, Kolpakova proved to be the stronger.

Over the final kilometers, positions were changing. De Oliviera could not sustain her challenge and fell away. Russian, Marina Bychkova, Deborah Mattheus and Carol Mercer were picking up places as those ahead faltered. The first to yield was race-leader, Bak. She faded badly after climbing Cowie’s Hill. First to go past her was Kolpakova who, at this stage, had clearly pressed the accelerator. Next to go past, in quick succession, were Bychkova and Mattheus.

Mattheus moved into 2nd position on the run-in from Tollgate, but the chances of catching the flying leader were beyond her. Kolpakova entered Kingsmead Stadium 9m 11s ahead of Mattheus with Bychkova another 1m 16s further back.

RESULT

1st Elvira Kolpakova Russia 6h 13m 54s
2nd Deborah Mattheus South Africa 6h 23m 04s
3rd Marina Bychkova Russia 6h 24m 21s
4th Maria Bak Germany 6h 25m 48s
5th Maria Venancio Brazil 6h 39m 03s
6th Carol Mercer South Africa 6h 41m 00s
7th Grace De Oliveira South Africa 6h 41m 05s
8th Reneé Scott South Africa 6h 54m 58
9th Valentina Shatyayeva Russia 6h 57m 06s
10th Madeleen Otto South Africa 7h 01m 15s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Maria Bak (42) Germany

6h 25m 48s New Best Time Down

2nd Maria Venancio (41) Brazil 6h 39m 03s
3rd Marietjie Mongomery (41) South Africa 7h 09m 20s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Claudia Preston-Thomas (52) South Africa

8h 09m 16s

2nd Althea Bacchialoni (50) South Africa 8h 26m 02s
3rd Diane Ridgway (52) USA 8h 47m 11s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Mayumi Aihara (60) Japan

9h 02m 42s New Best Time Down

2nd Sarah Hackney (60) South Africa 10h 35m 53
3rd Yvonne Lingenfelder (60) South Africa 10h 40m 43
2002 Up (77th Race)
Date Monday, 17 June
Weather Cool at start. Mild to warm. Never oppressively hot.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 7/26
DBN 10/25
Start Venue/Time Durban City Hall, West Street / 6:00
Finish Venue Scottsville Racecourse
Time Limit 11 Hours
Official Distance 86.550 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 15.689 km/hr (3m 50s /km)
Women 13.871 km/hr (4m 20s /km)
Entries 12167
Starters 11395
Finishers – Total 9029
Men 7844
Women 1185
Medals – Gold 20
Silver 564
Bill Rowan 2205
Bronze 6240
% Finishers / Starters 79.2

THE MENS RACE

It was an unseasonal, balmy morning, that Monday, in mid-June. With winter not too far away, the Indian Spring would, later during the morning, wreak havoc among the fancied performers.

There were questions that required answers when the huge field stood assembled in West Street, a few hundred metres inland from the vast Indian Ocean.

Question… Would Andrew Kelehe, the defending champion set off a new winning streak?

Question… Vladimir Kotov, a few years on the wrong side of 40, had set a new Up Record in 2000 and, reputedly, in top condition; would he be there when it mattered?

Question… Willie Mtolo, back after 13 years since his second place in 1989; the ballerina who didn’t run… but glided along the road. Was he about to make a delayed, but very welcome, return?

When the pistol sent the runners on their way to Pietermatritzburg, the answer to the questions would be furnished in 331 minutes.

First to show – once the melee among the no-hopers, who routinely went to the front from the gun, had been disposed of and dumped by the real contenders – was Joseph Ikaneng and Oleg Kharitonov. Charging up Cowie’s Hill, they led a talented group that included all the big names. Kelehe, Kotov and Mtolo were already within striking distance. So was the Spaniard, Jorge Martinez.

Although the pace up front was reasonable, the Up Record was not in danger, which indicated that the outcome would likely be decided by tactics.

Through Pinetown, Hillcrest, Drummond and Cato Ridge, the lead changed only by routine swapping of positions among the leaders from time to time. On the short, sharp climb out of Camperdown, Mtolo pounced and only Kotov went with him. The explosive injection of pace saw Kelehe, Kharitonov and Ikaneng drift off the back.

The Indian Spring had kicked in; the mercury spiralled into the danger zone, above 30 degrees, as the race hotted up in late morning.

Half way up Little Polly’s, Kotov made the move that would prove to be decisive. Mtolo held on for a while, but running down the hill from Ashburton, cramp, which had bedevilled him in the run-in in 1989, deprived the race of what may have been a thriller.

Kotov increased his lead to three-and-a-half minutes as he ran unchallenged to the finish at the Scotsville Racecourse. Mtolo dug deep and only just hung on to his Silver Medallion. Martinez finished third but suffered the extreme disappointment – despite a desperate sprint in the home straight – of failing by two seconds to catch Mtolo.  

RESULT

1st Vladimir Kotov Belarus

5h 30m 59s

2nd Willie Mtolo South Africa 5h 33m 35s
3rd Jorge Martinez Spain 5h 33m 37s
4th Oleg Kharitonov Russia 5h 34m 43s
5th Sarel Ackermann South Africa 5h 39m 05s
6th Albe Geldenhuys South Africa 5h 39m 45s
7th Joseph Ikaneng South Africa 5h 44m 11s
8th Don Wallace Australia 5h 44m 19s
9th Andrew Kelehe South Africa 5h 46m 32s
10th Fusi Nhlapo South Africa 5h 46m 59s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Vladimir Kotov (44) Belarus 5h 30m 59s
2nd Don Wallace (40) Australia 5h 44m 19s
3rd Mohala Mohloli (41) Lesotho 5h 53m 21s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Peter Camenzind (51) Switzerland

6h 21m 57s New Best Time Up

2nd Freddy Khashiri (55) Zimbabwe 6h 39m 23s
3rd Lucas Mashianoke (51) South Africa 7h 08m 34s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Danny Shongwe (62) South Africa

7h 52m 34s

2nd Calie Beneke (66) South Africa 8h 12m 33s
3rd Moses Kunene (61) South Africa 8h 23m 21s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

The race would be dominated by foreign runners. That was never in doubt. The only unknown was ‘which one?’

Two-time winner, Germany’s Maria Bak, had won the previous Up Run in 2000. Her speed, experience and knowledge of the course and conditions – always a valuable factor – was unquestioned.

Any one of the Russians could be expected to have an impact on the race, at the death, when the major medals were being contested.

Eight-time Gold Medallist, Valentina Shatyayeva, could never be overlooked. Marina Bychkova, with 3 Gold Medals in 3 attempts will always be a danger. Elvira Kolpakova, winner in 2001, is sure to have an eye on a double.

Local hopes were pinned on Grace De Oliveira, Sarah Mahlangu and Madeleen Otto. Whether they had what was needed, to scare the visiting runners, would be known just after midday.

Russian novice, Yelene Razdrogina set a frenetic pace from the gun, as she scorched up Berea Road towards Tollgate and through to 45th Cutting. All the fancied runners were assembling in a compact group behind her, but they were falling further back as the flying leader seemed hell bent on an astonishing new record… or suicide.

Razdrogina went over the top of Cowie’s Hill in 1h 6m 46s. She was so far ahead, that the group consisting of Bak, Natalia Volgina and Kolpakova only passed through in 1h 10m 51s. Mahlangu was only 3 metres behing this trio. Already, the foreign brigade were looking ominous, establishing itself in the vanguard as the race developed.

Field’s Hill presents itself early in the race, but the monstrous climb can, and often does, create changes that have a major effect on the medal issue at the end. This was one of those days.

Razdrogina maintained the lead as she raced over the hills to Drummond, where she passed through in 3h 4m 59s. Bak and Volgina (3h 7m 46s) had gone ahead of Kolpakova (3h 8m 59s). Mahlangu held on to 5th place, going by in 3h 9m 26s. De Oliveira lay in 8th position in 3h 18m 7s.

Razdrogina had, indeed, committed suicide over the first half. Inchanga confirmed it. She still led over the top, but her race was, effectively, over. Over the ensuing miles, the chasing brigade ran her down and, in regular succession, went past as she drifted into oblivion.

The next major hurdle was Polly Shortt’s. When the leading runners crested the hill, the final finishing positions were already finalised. Bak had gone into the lead near the Mpusheni bridge, and at the top of the hill, was nearly 3 minutes clear of Volgina. Bychkova followed another 6 minutes later. Novice, Farwa Mentoor, was having a storming run and had improved her position from 7th at halfway, to 4th at the foot of Polly’s.

The run into the city was a formality as all the leaders retained the places they held at the top of Polly Shortt’s.

Mentoor produced a superb performance for a novice, finishing 4th in 6h 41m 20s.

RESULT

1st Maria Bak Germany 6h 14m 21s
2nd Natalia Volgina Russia 6h 17m 26s
3rd Marina Bychkova Russia 6h 24m 23s
4th Farwa Mentoor South Africa 6h 41m 20s
5th Elvira Kolpakova Russia 6h 41m 56s
6th Grace De Oliveira South Africa 6h 43m 12s
7th Sarah Mahlangu South Africa 6h 53m 41s
8th Yelena Razdrogina Russia 6h 57m 54s
9th Marietjie Montgomery South Africa 6h 59m 24s
10th Valentina Shatyayeva Russia 7h 02m 41s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Maria Bak (43) Germany

6h 14m 21s New Best Time Up

2nd Grace De Oliveira (40) South Africa 6h 43m 12s
3rd Marietjie Montgomery (42) South Africa 6h 59m 24s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Maureen O’Loughlin (50) Australia

8h 50m 43s

2nd Penny Visser (55) South Africa 9h 01m 12s
3rd Thea Kruger (58) South Africa 9h 18m 11s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Mayumi Aihara (61) Japan

9h 37m 12s New Best Time Up

2nd Sarah Hackney (61) South Africa 10h 54m 22
2003 Down (78th Race)
Date Monday, 16 June
Weather Cool at start with mist in the valleys. Fine and warm later.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 9/25
DBN 15/23
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 5:30
Finish Venue Kingsmead Stadium
Time Limit 12 Hours
Official Distance 89.179 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 16.272 km/hr (3m 41s /km)
Women 14.548 km/hr (4m 08s /km)
Entries 13303
Starters Unknown
Finishers – Total 11416
Men 9546
Women 1870
Medals – Gold 20
Silver 672
Bill Rowan 2436
Bronze 5778
Vic Clapham 2510
% Finishers / Starters  -

THE MENS RACE

The excitement at the finish venue in Durban, late in the morning, was diametrically opposite to the conservative wait-and-see mood at the start.

Vladimir Kotov and Oleg Kharitonov, who both performed exceptionally in 2002, were expected to repeat those feats. The South African challenge was perceived as below the standard of the visitors and unlikely to mount a serious threat when the major medals were distributed. Willie Mtolo was back in the line-up. So was Walter Nkosi, a solid performer, as well as former winner, Andrew Kelehe. None of the three were thought to be in the type of form to press for top honours

No one, other than the regular TV brigade, seemed prepared to commit himself in the early stages.  Once the early-morning mist had risen from the valleys, three Russians had emerged and gone ahead of the pack. They were Kharitonov, Eduard Takbhatullin and Denis Zhalybin. Only Nkosi had gone with them as they led through Cato Ridge. As the group approached the halfway point, Nkosi surprised the trio, surging past and leading through Drummond in 2h 45m 30s.

When the chasing pack, eventually, came alive and realised the gravity of their situation, it was Fusi Nhlapo and Joseph Molaba who broke free. Nhlapo, a sensational down-hill runner, waited patiently until he crested the mineshaft, Field’s Hill, then he trod on the gas. Molaba was left for dead as Nhlapo closed the 500-metre gap to the leaders within minutes, overtaking them with ease, but when he was seen struggling up Cowie’s Hill, it was thought that he had committed the Comrades runner’s cardinal sin; racing flat-out down Field’s.

Molaba was having a wonderful run and, over the section from Cowie’s to 45th Cutting, he stormed past those ahead of him; failing by thirteen seconds to thwart second-placed Kharitonov.

The day, however, belonged to Nhlapo. His sustained pace, once he had taken the lead, carried him to victory by almost three minutes.       

RESULT

1st Fusi Nhlapo South Africa

5h 28m 53s

2nd Oleg Kharitonov Russia 5h 31m 42s
3rd Joseph Molaba South Africa 5h 31m 55s
4th Jorge Martinez Spain 5h 32m 32s
5th Andrew Kelehe South Africa 5h 35m 18s
6th Sarel Ackermann South Africa 5h 35m 52s
7th Walter Nkosi South Africa 5h 39m 26s
8th Willie Mtolo South Africa 5h 41m 30s
9th Denis Zhalybin Russia 5h 41m 39s
10th Moses Lebakeng South Africa 5h 42m 31s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Mohala Mohloli (42) Lesotho 5h 46m 48s
2nd Simon Malindi (40) South Africa 5h 54m 48s
3rd Vladimir Kotov (45) Belarus 5h 57m 04s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Peter Camenzind (52) Switzerland

6h 05m 18s New Best Time Down

2nd Cornet Matomane (51) South Africa 6h 29m 27s
3rd Freddy Khashiri (56) Zimbabwe 6h 45m 06s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Calie Beneke (67) South Africa

7h 23m 32s

2nd Howard Ferris (61) USA 7h 51m 50s
3rd Tamsanqa Jusayi (61) South Africa 7h 55m 01s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

Was there a South African capable of halting the foreign onslaught?

The media view was that there was not. During the previous nine years, South Africa’s medallists were Deborah Mattheus (Silver 2001), Grace de Oliviera (Silver 1999 and Bronze 2000), Rae Bisshoff (Gold 1998) and Helene Joubert (Silver 1995).

Twenty-seven major medals on offer… with just five going to local women.

The media was fully justified in predicting another foreign avalanche… and they were correct. Only Farwa Mentoor (8th) and Yolande Maclean (9th) prevented a clean sweep of the ten Gold Medals by the visitors.

With no clear favourite among the Russian group, three-time Bronze Medallion winner, Marina Bychkova, looked a possible victrix. A number of others were of unknown ability. They were novices; Tatyana Zhirkova and the identical Nurgalieva twins, Olesya and Elena.

The early pace was taken up by the Hungarian, Simona Staicu, who led through the halfway at Drummond. She had won the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town a few months back. Her pace through Drummond was such that a new Down Record looked to be in the offing. However, she paid dearly for her early exuberance over the second half, just managing to hang on for the tenth, and last, Gold Medal. Zhirkova passed her in the Alverston area, but when the Nurgalieva twins caught her approaching Hillcrest, she had no reply.

The race was, at this stage, over as a contest. The twins progressed unhindered towards Durban with Elena beating Olesya by five minutes. Zhirkova followed a further five minutes behind.

RESULT

1st Elena Nurgalieva Russia 6h 07m 47s
2nd Olesya Nurgalieva Russia 6h 12m 08s
3rd Tatyana Zhirkova Russia 6h 17m 51s
4th Maria Bak Germany 6h 18m 33s
5th Marina Bychkova Russia 6h 19m 22s
6th Alena Vinitskaya Russia 6h 22m 48s
7th Elvira Kolpakova Russia 6h 24m 30s
8th Farwa Mentoor South Africa 6h 32m 38s
9th Yolande Maclean South Africa 6h 44m 40s
10th Simona Staicu Hungary 6h 54m 49s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Maria Bak (44) Germany

6h 18m 33s New Best Time Down

2nd Grace De Oliveira (41) South Africa 7h 00m 05s
3rd Renee Scott (41) South Africa 7h 00m 15s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Astrid Damerell (50) South Africa

8h 01m 35s New Best Time Down

2nd Huguette Jouault (51) France 8h 02m 52s
3rd Anna van der Merwe (50) South Africa 8h 05m 20s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Pamela Osborn (62) South Africa 9h 03m 30s
2nd Mayumi Aihara (62) Japan 9h 36m 56s
3rd Isabel Hobbs (60) South Africa 10h 18m 46
2004 Up (79th Race)
Date Wednesday, 16 June
Weather Cloudless, fine and warm.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 5/23
DBN 8/25
Start Venue/Time Durban City Hall, West Street / 5:30
Finish Venue Alexandra Park Oval
Time Limit 12 Hours
Official Distance 86.750 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 15.707 km/hr (3m 49s /km)
Women 14.022 km/hr (4m 17s /km)
Entries 12059
Starters 11364
Finishers – Total 10126
Men 8562
Women 1564
Medals – Gold 20
Silver 507
Bill Rowan 1927
Bronze 5041
Vic Clapham 2631
% Finishers / Starters 89.1

THE MENS RACE

No one was confident enough to make a definitive prediction on the outcome.

Vladimir Kotov was aiming at a hat trick of Up Run victories. He had won convincingly in 2000 and 2002 but, it was asked, was his age now becoming a factor, considering that he was in his mid-forties.

Oleg Kharitonov, the runner-up in 2003, was reckoned to have an outside chance.

The local hopes were pinned on 2001 winner, Andrew Kelehe and the ever-popular – but under-achieving – Willie Mtolo.

On the track, it is known that when the field is strung out in single file, the pace is on but, when the field is bunched, the race is slow and tactical.

The 2004 race resembled a slow tactical affair. None of the talented performers showed any inclination to test the water up front. The race record was, already, never under threat. Other than the perennial TV exhibitionists, everyone of the, ultimate, Gold medallists climbed Cowie’s Hill in a group, and seven of them were all given the same time. In the end, it came down to who would hit the thrust button first… and who could hold on the longest.  

Philani Memela led the race through the Cowie’s Hill checkpoint precisely on one hour. Twenty-six seconds later came the quartet of Frans Mathebula, Clement Hlasa, Mabule Raphotle and Andries Moleme.

Right on their heels, only fifteen metres behind, was the massive group that contained all the day’s Gold medallists.

Memela increased his lead to exactly one minute by the time he reached Drummond but following him was the contender group, which had thinned considerably since Pinetown, but, significantly, all the Gold seekers were still on his tail.

On the ascent of Inchanga, Memela drifted into oblivion, and before Harrison Flats, Hlasa had also gone. So it was now down to the big guns; a group of seven playing a very tactical game. Who would be the first, or the bravest, to squeeze the trigger. Through Cato Ridge, the group comprised Kotov, Kharitonov, Mtolo, Joseph Ikaneng, Jaroslaw Janicki, Hlonepho Mphulanyane and Kelehe. They were still handcuffed together as they passed through Camperdown.

“When is it going to happen?” those on the Press truck mused.

Then it did.

Kotov, an acknowledged climber, surged on the nasty little hill out of the village. They all responded but Ikaneng, followed shortly by Mphulanyane, drifted off the back.  The pace up front had quickened considerably and the track theory kicked in. They were now ‘in single file’ but still in close contact. Then Kelehe fell off the pace at the Water Tower, the highest point between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. On the long, fast drop to the Mpusheni Stream – the water jump in the early years – Mtolo succumbed.

Running up Little Polly’s, Kotov surged again… and Kharitonov did not respond. It was now between Kotov and Janicki. With Polly Shortts looming, and Kotov the super hill runner, the race was over.

Cruising, untroubled up the final major climb, Kotov put three minutes between himself and Janicki to clinch a hat trick of ‘Up’ victories. 

RESULT

1st Vladimir Kotov Belarus

5h 31m 22s

2nd Jaroslaw Janicki Poland 5h 34m 17s
3rd Oleg Kharitonov Russia 5h 39m 08s
4th Willie Mtolo South Africa 5h 39m 56s
5th Andrew Kelehe South Africa 5h 42m 34s
6th Joseph Ikaneng South Africa 5h 43m 03s
7th Hlonepha Mphulanyane South Africa 5h 44m 10s
8th Jorge Martinez Spain 5h 45m 34s
9th Johan Oosthuizen South Africa 5h 46m 07s
10th Jacob Madima South Africa 5h 48m 31s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Vladimir Kotov (46) Belarus 5h 31m 22s
2nd Willie Mtolo (40) South Africa 5h 39m 56s
3rd Mohala Mohloli (43) Lesotho 6h 01m 55s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Peter Camenzind (53) Switzerland

6h 11m 12s New Best Time Up

2nd Aubrey Watson (52) South Africa 6h 48m 44s
3rd Stephen Seema (52) South Africa 6h 55m 49s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Moses Kunene (63) South Africa

8h 28m 41s

2nd Tony Spector (62) South Africa 8h 36m 40s
3rd Albert McGee (68) Zimbabwe 8h 48m 04s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

Traditionally, for whatever reason, the leading women do not run in a compact group. One or two often attack from the start and the other contenders follow at regular, lengthy intervals.

The visiting Russians were, as usual, expected to go hard from the start. They did but, surprisingly, a compact group of six, checked through Cowie’s Hill together in 1h 8m. Passing through Pinetown, Tatyana Zhirkova had fallen behind. Farwa Mentoor was the sole South African to go with Marina Bychkova and the Nurgalieva sisters.

Bychkova led the twins by two strides as she passed the halfway mark in 3h 04m 32s; a time indicating that the Up Record was in danger. Mentoor followed 14 seconds later but, despite the exceptional speed of those ahead, she made up that small gap in the run over Inchanga and through Cato Ridge, to pass the Camperdown checkpoint with the lead group.

Then it happened; the same as the men. The hammer went down and Elena Nurgalieva strode into the lead which she defended all the way to the finish. The pace told on Olesya Nurgalieva and she faded in the Dardanelles area. Mentoor could not match the leaders on the punishing climb up Little Polly’s. Bychkova succumbed on Polly Shortts, finishing three minutes adrift of Elena Nurgalieva whose relentless pace over the final quarter of the race gave her a new Best Time.

RESULT

1st Elena Nurgalieva Russia

6h 11m 15s New Best Time Up

2nd Marina Bychkova Russia 6h 14m 13s
3rd Farwa Mentoor South Africa 6h 18m 23s
4th Olesya Nurgalieva Russia 6h 20m 32s
5th Tatyana Zhirkova Russia 6h 28m 02s
6th Maria Bak Germany 6h 30m 44s
7th Yolande Maclean South Africa 6h 45m 40s
8th Grace De Oliveira South Africa 6h 46m 59s
9th Reneé Scott South Africa 6h 56m 28s
10th Riana van Niekerk South Africa 7h 12m 23s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Maria Bak (45) Germany 6h 30m 44s
2nd Grace De Oliveira (42) South Africa 6h 46m 59s
3rd Renee Scott (42) South Africa 6h 56m 28s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Linda Potgieter (51) South Africa

8h 29m 58s

2nd Sandra Fismer (51) South Africa 9h 02m 24s
3rd Wendy Bloom (50) South Africa 9h 15m 59s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Thea Kruger (61) South Africa 9h 43m 32s
2nd Pamela Osborn (62) South Africa 10h 10m 45
3rd Mayumi Aihara (63) Japan 10h 20m 26
2005 Down (80th Race)
Date Thursday, 16 June
Weather Cold at start. Fine and mild later.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 3/23
DBN 9/24
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 5:30
Finish Venue Kingsmead Stadium
Time Limit 12 Hours
Official Distance 89.170 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 16.355 km/hr (3m 40s /km)
Women 14.911 km/hr (4m 01s /km)
Entries 13899
Starters 13043
Finishers – Total 11728
Men 9726
Women 2002
Medals – Gold 20
Silver 637
Bill Rowan 2424
Bronze 5716
Vic Clapham 2931
% Finishers / Starters 89.9

THE MENS RACE

Pre-race predictions are becoming increasingly difficult as the difference in ability of the elite performers fits into a very narrow band. Considering that a matter of seconds may separate an entire group of thirty or forty, as it surges across the checkpoint at halfway, the end result comes down to who is experiencing a good, or not so good, day or who makes the correct judgment call for attacking, or waiting, for the precise moment to strike. 

So it was before the start. Any of the fifteen or sixteen big names could fill the Gold Medal positions. There were also some very talented runners among the next level who could, surprisingly, sneak in and scare the best. 

First past the Water Tower at Umlaas Road, the highest point along the race route, was Andrias Masoeu in 1h 11m 28s. Following him were Herbert Mazagolo (1h 13m 28s) and Samuel Matsoso (1h 14m 24s). Two minutes later, a huge group – which subsequently provided all the Gold Medallists – passed through in 1h 16m 30s. Mazagolo and Matsoso were out of the running before Cato Ridge.

Although he increased his lead to eight minutes by halfway, Masoeu’s pace indicated that he was never going to challenge for top honours when the accelerator was depressed. Next through Drummond was Sipho Ngomane, running only his second Comrades, in 2h 48m 14s. The main bunch, which had thinned considerably, passed the timekeeper in 2h 49m 30s. This group included Oleg Kharitonov, Andrew Kelehe, Vladimir Kotov, Fusi Nhlapo, Johan Oosthuizen and Claude Moshiywa.

Ngomane, only 23 years old, was the big surprise. Unheralded, he strode away from this high-powered, experienced contingent. Shortly after passing though Hillcrest he caught, and passed, Masoeu on the downhill to Winston Park. From that point, he ran a perfectly judged race, maintaining a watchful eye on his pursuers, never allowing them to make any appreciable inroad into his lead.

Ngomane reached the top of Cowie’s Hill in 4h 22m 55s. Claude Moshiywa, after going through halfway in 5th position, and looking ominous, was next over the top in 4h 27m 02s. He was followed by Kharitonov, Kelehe and Kotov, running together, in 4h 27m 30s.

Moshiywa’s great effort from Drummond, in the end, cost him dearly. The chasing pack reeled him in before Westville and he drifted out of the major positions, eventually finishing 8th.

Ngomane passed 45th Cutting – with seven kilometres to the finish – in 4h 59m 44s. The pursuit of Moshiywa broke up the 3 K’s. Kharitonov was next (5h 03m 40s) with Kelehe (5h 04m 13s) and Kotov (5h 07m 07s) following. They were left to dispute the Silver and Bronze Medals.

Kharitonov made a determined effort over the final few kilometres but Ngomane was in total control, crossing the line at Kingsmead Stadium a clear winner by two minutes.  

RESULT

1st Sipho Ngomane South Africa

5h 27m 11s

2nd Oleg Kharitonov Russia 5h 29m 16s
3rd Andrew Kelehe South Africa 5h 31m 45s
4th Vladimir Kotov Belarus 5h 34m 00s
5th Fusi Nhlapo South Africa 5h 39m 02s
6th Mohala Mohloli Lesotho 5h 40m 18s
7th Johan Oosthuizen South Africa 5h 40m 58s
8th Claude Moshiywa South Africa 5h 42m 23s
9th Elias Mabane South Africa 5h 46m 21s
10th Albe Geldenhuys South Africa 5h 46m 38s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Andrew Kalehe (40) South Africa 5h 31m 45s
2nd Vladimir Kotov (47) Belarus 5h 34m 00s
3rd Mohala Mohloli (44) Lesotho 5h 40m 18s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Peter Camenzind (54) Switzerland

5h 59m 40s New Best Time Down

2nd Aubrey Watson (53) South Africa 6h 24m 57s
3rd Nicholas Dlamini (50) South Africa 6h 46m 29s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Paulus Ramathoka (61) South Africa

8h 40m 57s

2nd Katsuyoshi Miyano (61) Japan 8h 42m 37s
3rd Francois Hofmeyr (63) South Africa 8h 49m 25s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

Were any of the local women capable of sinking or, at best, capsizing the Russian flotilla?

South African hopes were pinned on Farwa Mentoor, Yolande Maclean and Grace De Olveira, but the pertinent question was “could they achieve the improbable – or impossible?”

In the end, they couldn’t.

As expected, the three big names in the field, Elena and Olesya Nurgalieva and Tatyana Zhirkova, went straight to the front and led going out of the city.

They went by the Water Tower, at Umlaas Road, together in 1h 23m 24s. Mentoor passed through in 4th place (1h 24m 07s) with Marina Bychkova next (1h 27m 28s).

The leading trio remained intact over the hills to Drummond, going through the halfway checkpoint in 3h 01m 40s, increasing the distance over Mentoor (3h 05m 00s) to 3m 20s. Bychkova came through next in 3h 06m 46s.

Were the three leaders going to stay together and sprint for the tape at Kinsmead? The ensuing 25 kilometres provided the answer. On the exit from Kloof, at the top of Field’s Hill, Zhirkova put in a testing surge. The Nurgalieva twins responded initially but on the steep drop into Pinetown they faded, and when she crested Cowie’s Hill, Zhirkova had a lead of 22 seconds over Elena and 2m 17s over Olesya. The race, at that stage, was effectively over.

Zhirkova went further and further ahead as she approached Durban and put 11m 49s between herself and Olesya, who overtook Elena at Tollgate.

Mentoor gamely held onto 4th place, edging out Bychkova by a mere 9 seconds.

RESULT

1st Tatyana Zhirkova Russia 5h 58m 51s
2nd Olesya Nurgalieva Russia 6h 10m 40s
3rd Elena Nurgalieva Russia 6h 12m 19s
4th Farwa Mentoor South Africa 6h 19m 21s
5th Marina Bychkova Russia 6h 19m 30s
6th Marina Myshlyanova Russia 6h 28m 50s
7th Elvira Kolpakova Russia 6h 34m 45s
8th Yolande Maclean South Africa 6h 37m 36s
9th Tatyana Titova Russia 6h 43m 17s
10th Lindsay van Aswegen South Africa 7h 04m 34s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Grace De Oliveira (43) South Africa 7h 05m 55s
2nd Dagmar Rabensteiner (42) Austria 7h 07m 54s
3rd Renee Scott (43) South Africa 7h 19m 39s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Styntjie Prins (51) South Africa

7h 28m 45s New Best Time Down

2nd Nancy Will (52) South Africa 7h 39m 19s
3rd Linda Potgieter (52) South Africa 8h 14m 09s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Jenny Allebone (61) South Africa

8h 24m 00s New Best Time Down

2nd Thea Kruger (61) South Africa 9h 26m 16s
3rd Pamela Osborn (64) South Africa 9h 41m 23s