Three remarkable individuals were proudly acknowledged at this year’s prize giving ceremony at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on race day, Sunday, 10 June with their very own Winners Jackets. They are Alan Robb, Bruce Fordyce and Helen Lucre, each of whom in their own right, has made their mark on The Ultimate Human Race.
Four time Comrades Marathon winner, Alan Robb also holds an unbelievable 12 gold medals and was the first runner to ever break the five and a half hour barrier in his historic run of 1978. His time of 5hr29min14sec was a full 19 and a half minutes ahead of second place. He has also managed to complete the great race a phenomenal 42 times, making him one of only 16 people to have their Quadruple Green Number title.
A true gentleman of the race, Robb always has time for questions and spends a fair amount of time at the Comrades Expo, putting the novice runners’ minds at ease. He also assists at the Comrades Finish where he hands out the prestigious Green Numbers, post-race. Aside from being a legendary winner of the race, Robb also personifies the camaraderie, courage, commitment and selflessness that make the Comrades Marathon so special.
The most iconic runner in the history of the Comrades Marathon, Fordyce holds the title of the runner with the most wins; nine in total; with 5 of those being record-setting runs at the time. He has managed to accumulate 30 medals overall.
Fordyce’s slow start and speedy finish running style, and finishing off with his signature ‘the sting’ handshake when passing into the lead, made for enthralling television viewing. He was one of the biggest influencers in the growth of long distance running and made his mark on the Comrades Marathon.
Bruce has always been an advocate of human rights and no-one can forget the amount of dialogue his black armband protest of 1981 raised. He still supports many athletics projects that help runners from disadvantaged backgrounds reach their potential. Bruce is a highly successful author and motivational speaker.
Helen Lucre was born in New Zealand and came to South Africa on holiday, fell in love with the country and has stayed ever since. It was in her early years of arriving in South Africa that she took up running to keep fit and found she had a natural aptitude for it.
Helen ran two Comrades Marathons before taking a 3 year break to focus on her endurance and speed. Between 1985 and 1987, Helen performed a hat trick of wins, becoming one of only three woman to win the Comrades three years in a row. Through those 3 wins, she won the honour of joining the green number club and holding the Permanent Green Number 6511.
Since the initial retrospective awarding of Comrades Marathon Winners Jackets in 2016, the following former winners have been awarded:
- Piet Vorster – Winner: 1979
- Jan Mallen – Winner: 1979
- Derek Preiss – Winner: 1975
- Jackie Mekler – Winner: 1958, 1960, 1963, 1964 and 1968
- Tommy Malone – Winner: 1966
- Elizabeth Cavanagh – Winner: 1975