1946 - 1949

2nd screen

1946 Up (21st Race)
Date Friday, 24 May
Weather Chilly at the start, warming to mild with a hot headwind in the vicinity of Umlaas Road.
Start Venue/Time Durban City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Alexandra Park Athletic and Cycle Track (The Duck Pond)
Time Limit 11 Hours
Approx. Distance 54 M
Entries 22
Starters 8
Finishers – Total 8
Men 6
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 2
% Finishers / Starters 36.4


When the guns finally fell silent in 1945, two former winners had made the supreme sacrifice. Phil Masterton-Smith fell in the Western Desert in 1941 and Frank Sutton drowned when his troopship was torpedoed off the coast, near Durban, in 1944.

Two previous winners, however, entered. A clash of giants was expected with Hardy Ballington and Bill Savage set to tee-off for another Titanic struggle. However, it was not to be. Ballington injured an ankle a week before race day when he was forced off the road by a car while out training. Among the entrants were a number off pre-war stalwarts. Dymock Parr (2nd in 1940), Keith Dubber, Bill Rufus and Liege Boulle all decided to give the race another try.

Rufus led the field up Berea Road with Cochrane and Parr not too far behind. He was clocked at Westville in 52m 50s, exactly 5 minutes ahead of Parr. Cochrane was another minute back. Over the hilly section to Pinetown, Rufus increased his lead, going through in 1h 31m 33s. Parr and Cochrane, running together, arrived in 1h 38m 50s, with Boulle clocking 1h 44m. Although Field’s Hill slowed Rufus slightly, he was still in the lead at Gillitts in 2h 14m 20s. Cochrane (2h 19m 52s) had gone ahead of Parr (2h 21m 10s) into 3rd position.

On the testing stretch between Hillcrest and Drummond, Rufus began to feel the effects of his early efforts and was overtaken by Cochrane as they ran into the halfway point, where the position was Cochane (3h 30m 28s), Rufus (3h 30m 35s) and Parr (3h 33m 44s). When both Rufus and Parr stopped for a massage at Drummond, Cochrane ran into a substantial lead as he climbed the tough Inchanga bank with comparative ease.

Cochrane reached Cato Ridge in 4h 40m. Parr was next in 5h 8m. Rufus was tiring and had dropped back into 4th position. Cochrane struck a bad patch after Cato Ridge and struggled as he strode towards Umlaas Road, allowing Parr to gain a few minutes. Nevertheless, he recovered and pulled away again over the hills to the top of Polly Shortt’s where he was a sure winner. A huge ovation greeted him as he entered Alexandra Park, crossing the line in 7h 2m 40s.

For Parr, it as a replay of 1940. He once again finished 2nd, a long way behind the winner. In 1940, it was 1h 50m. On this occasion, it was 58m. Rufus recovered on the run in from Umlaas Road to finish 3rd.


1st Bill Cochrane South Africa

7h 02m 40s

2nd Dymock Parr South Africa 8h 00m 27s
3rd Bill Rufus South Africa 8h 27m 06s
4th P.L. Christie South Africa 8h 54m 35s
5th Reg Allison South Africa 8h 55m 33s
6th Morris Alexander South Africa 9h 01m 30s
7th Liege Boulle South Africa 10h 04m 04s
8th Edgar Marie South Africa 10h 59m 58s
1947 Down (22nd Race)
Date Saturday, 24 May
Weather Chilly at the start. Warming later, but never oppressive.
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Track Ground
Time Limit 11 Hours
Approx. Distance 56 M
Entries Unknown
Starters 47
Finishers – Total 23
Men 23
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 17
% Finishers / Starters 48.9


Having recovered from the ankle injury that caused him to withdraw from the 1946 race, and with no one in his class, Hardy Ballington was the outright favourite. There were, however, a few improving runners entered, such as Reg Allison and Eddie Hofmeyr, but they were not expected to prevent Ballington from achieving a fifth victory.

In perfect running weather – chilly morning air with bright, mild sunshine – Liege Boulle lead the field out of Pietermaritzburg with Ballington striding along, not too far behind, in 2nd place.

At Umlaas Road, Ballington had gone to the front, leading a group in which Boulle, Allison, Bill Rufus, and Dymock Parr featured prominently. When the leaders passed through Cato Ridge, Allison had moved into 2nd position about 700 yards behind Ballington. On the pull up Inchanga, Ballington increased his lead over Allison and dropped down into Drummond in 3h 4m 7s, almost three-quarters of a mile ahead. Allison was next through 3h 9m. Then came a group containing Rufus, Parr and Hofmeyr.

This was Ballington’s best time to Drummond and, as he always picked up the pace over the second half, the pundits predicted that a new Best Time was possible. Soon after, it was noticed that he was not running as easily as earlier but, nevertheless, his lead over Allison, at Kloof, was more than 2 miles and by the time he entered Pinetown he had extended the gap to 20 minutes. The bad patch, however, had eliminated any chance of a new Best Time. After cresting Tollgate, his progression to the Track Ground was uneventful and, after achieving his fifth win, his announced his retirement from long-distance running.


1st Hardy Ballington South Africa

6h 41m 05s

2nd Reg Allison South Africa 7h 23m 30s
3rd Eddie Hofmeyr South Africa 7h 42m 17s
4th Lucas Nel South Africa 7h 57m 52s
4th Gerald Moloney South Africa 7h 59m 07s
6th Carl Pace South Africa 8h 02m 41s
7th Dymock Parr South Africa 8h 06m 04s
8th Fred Morrison South Africa 8h 17m 52s
9th C.C.J. Joubert South Africa 8h 46m 40s
10th Morris Alexander South Africa 8h 56m 02s
1948 Up (23rd Race)
Date Monday, 24 May
Weather Mild at start to hot at midday with very little cooling breeze.
Start Venue/Time Durban City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Alexandra Park Athletic and Cycle Track (The Duck Pond)
Time Limit 11 Hours
Approx. Distance 54 M
Entries Unknown
Starters 45
Finishers – Total 24
Men 24
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 18
% Finishers / Starters 53.3


An open race was predicted with any one of the major contenders in with a reasonable chance of leading the field into Pietermaritzburg at around 12:30 that afternoon. Reg Allison, whose 2nd place finish in 1947 gave him the edge, although Transvaal runners, George Burdett, Alan Ferguson and Gerry Moloney could spring a surprise.

A cloudless sky greeted the runners as they lined up outside the Durban City Hall.

Setting a sprightly pace, Len Wootton led the way up Berea Road to Tollgate as they strung out. He commenced the climb up Cowie’s Hill with a 2-minute lead over Bill Savage, who won the 1932 Up Race. Another 4 minutes later, Allison and Bill Rufus, running together, passed by. The steep gradient of the hill caused the field to spread even more thinly.

Setting a cracking pace, Wootton checked in at Pinetown in 1h 29m 5s. Next to pass the checkpoint was Savage and Allison separated by a few strides. Wootton increased his lead on Field’s Hill but on the rollercoaster section to Hillcrest, he paid the penalty for his early pace. Savage passed him shortly before entering the village.

Savage reached the top of Botha’s Hill in 2h 50m. Allison, having passed Wootton on the big hill, was 2nd over the top in 2h 57m. While walking up the hill, Wootton was also overtaken by Morris Alexander. Burdett, Moloney and Ferguson were within striking distance, should any of those ahead stumble.

Drawing further away, Savage lead through Drummond in 3h 29m 6s. Allison was next through in 3h 39m 35s, but he was going through a bad spell at the time. Moloney and Burdett arrived together, followed by Alexander, Wootton, Ferguson, Bill Rufus and Dymock Parr.

The gruelling Inchanga Hill executed its usual grim toll. Allison lost 2nd position to Moloney and Burdett. In blistering heat, Allison was on the verge of retiring and lay down in the shade for nearly 30 minutes when Allen Boyce cajoled him into rejoining the fray.

On the long stretch to Camperdown, the searing heat, with no cooling breeze, did not affect Savage who built up a commanding lead. He arrived in the village after 5h 7m on the road, with Burdett and Moloney passing through together in 5h 25m. Allison, back in the race, was making a miraculous recovery, going by in 4th position.

Ahead lay the testing run-in to the Capital city, with the notorious Polly Shortt’s looming. Savage took the hill in his stride and ran into Pietermaritzburg a surprise winner after an absence of 16 years from the Comrades Marathon.

The final dash into the city, for the silver medal, was a thrilling affair. Allison recovered splendidly over the final 15 miles. Lying 32 minutes behind Savage, and 14 minutes behind Burdett and Moloney, at Camperdown, Allison tore over the testing stretch. He overtook Moloney on Polly Shortt’s and Burdett in the city, less than a mile from the finish. Burdett was in such a dire situation that he lost 5 minutes to Allison in the last mile. Totally exhausted, he staggered and swayed alarmingly in the final straight, he was almost caught by his teammate, Moloney; holding on to 3rd position by a mere 39 seconds.        


1st Bill Savage South Africa

7h 13m 52s

2nd Reg Allison South Africa 7h 35m 55s
3rd George Burdett South Africa 7h 42m 06s
4th Gerald Moloney South Africa 7h 42m 45s
5th Dymock Parr South Africa 8h 18m 05s
6th Allan Ferguson South Africa 8h 20m 37s
7th Len Wootton South Africa 8h 27m 47s
8th Lucas Nel South Africa 8h 42m 12s
9th Bill Rufus South Africa 8h 52m 40s
10th P.L. Christie South Africa 8h 59m 30s
1949 Down (24th Race)
Date Wednesday, 24 May
Weather Fine and mild with scattered clouds.
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Track Ground
Time Limit 11 Hours
Approx. Distance 56 M
Entries Unknown
Starters 54
Finishers – Total 32
Men 32
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 26
% Finishers / Starters 59.3


As it was in 1948, the 1949 race also promised to be fairly open, although Reg Allison, the runner-up in 1947 and 1948, had the scales tipped slightly in his favour. There was also defending champion, Bill Savage and John Ballington, making a comeback after an absence of 10 years. Also down to short odds were the consistent Allan Ferguson and Gerry Moloney.

Leading the field out of Pietermaritzburg was Alan Bodill with Savage on his heels, but going over the top of Polly Shortt’s, just 4 miles into the race, Allison and Ballington had assumed the lead with a pace that promised a fast time.

Ballington was first through Thornybush, followed by Allison, Savage, Len Wootton and Bodill. Ballington and Allison went through Camperdown together in 1h 39m 57s with Savage and Ferguson following in quick succession. Over the rolling hills to Inchanga, Allison drew ahead and ran into Drummond where the order was Allison (3h 0m 28s), Ballington (3h 5m 21s), Savage (3h 13h) and Ferguson (3h 15m).

The pace proved to hot for the veteran, Savage, and he soon retired. Over the hilly stretch to Hillcrest, Allison increased his lead to 10 minutes over Ballington. Ferguson was third. Near the bottom of Field’s Hill, Ferguson went past Ballington into 2nd position, but he trailed the flying Allison by 3 miles. Averaging 9 miles an hour, a new Best Time was well within Allison’s reach.

Then disaster struck. Blisters were slowing him down and he lost valuable minutes when he stopped to have them dressed. With a substantial lead, however, he was soon on his way as he ran unchallenged to the Track ground. Those few critical minutes having the blisters treated certainly hampered his attempt at a new Best Time. He failed by a mere 76 seconds.

The courageous Ballington recovered after Pinetown, overtaking Ferguson on Cowie’s Hill and put 10 minutes between them over the final 10 miles.


1st Reg Allison South Africa

6h 23m 21s

2nd John Ballington South Africa 6h 52m 54s
3rd Allan Ferguson South Africa 7h 02m 52s
4th Morris Alexander South Africa 7h 18m 06s
5th Gerald Moloney South Africa 7h 22m 19s
6th Fritz von Hell South Africa 7h 31m 12s
7th Dymock Parr South Africa 7h 56m 34s
8th W. Cunliffe South Africa 7h 57m 01s
9th Liege Boulle South Africa 8h 03m 54s
10th Eddie Hofmeyr South Africa 8h 14m 26s