Alen Hattingh Comrades Marathon

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) expressed its gratitude to its outgoing Board Member and CSI Committee Convener this past weekend.

At a special getaway, CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn, touched on Alen Hattingh’s deep loyalty and support of The Ultimate Human Race, saying, “Alen’s love affair with athletics and the Comrades Marathon began 45 years ago as a teenager with Ladysmith Athletics Club.”

She said, “On the 17th March 1973 tragedy struck when on his way to participate in the Bluff Marathon in preparation for what would have been his first Comrades Marathon, the car he was travelling in was struck in a hit & run accident on the notorious Fields Hill, in which Alen’s brother-in-law was killed instantly and Alen was thrown out of the vehicle severing his spine, thus changing his life forever. He was not yet 21 years old. Imagine the despair.

“After spending many months in hospital, some 6-7 months later he was back at the Ladysmith Athletics Club weekly time trial, where within a relatively short period through the strength of his own indomitable spirit and the friendship, love and support of his clubmates he became a permanent fixture as official timekeeper of the time trials, later club secretary and eventually life member and honorary Vice President of Ladysmith AC.

“In about 1980, Alen moved to Pinetown where he met Charlene a nurse who has been steadfastly by his side ever since. By a twist of fate Charlene had actually nursed Alen at Addington Hospital after his accident. One of the first things he did on arriving in Pinetown was to become instrumental in the launch of a new athletics club – Queensburgh Harriers, where he then spent another 10 years in various capacities, in recognition of which he was later also rewarded life membership.”

Cheryl tells us that in 1990 he moved to Westville Athletics Club where most of his friends were, to which he is still an active member to this day, having served as road captain, cross-country captain and Vice Chairman.

In the meantime, Alen also became involved in provincial athletics serving on the old Natal Marathon Runners Association for 10 years from 1985 – 1995 before it was dis-banded, then becoming involved with KZNA as Chairman of its Cross-Country Commission, as well as qualifying as a technical official, initially reaching what used to be called a national road running referee, now a Level 2 Technical Official.

Alen has been time-keeping and officiating at road-running and cross-country events week-in, week-out for decades in KwaZulu-Natal, with his friendly face and his wheelchair a familiar sight on the finish line of hundreds of KZN events over the years.

Regarding the Comrades Marathon, Alen has served on the CMA Board in two separate periods for a total of 6 years, the first being 2005 – 2006. In 2007 in joined the CMA Race Organising Committee to take on the all-important Refreshment Station portfolio which he single-handedly managed until 2010. He re-joined the CMA Board from 2014 – 2017 during which time he also chaired the CMA CSI Committee and briefly the Official Charities Committee.

In his capacity as CSI Convener, he has been actively involved in the staging of the Greater Edendale 10km Race, the two CMA Outdoor Gym Projects (one to Msunduzi, one to eThekwini), the handover of wheelchairs to the Msunduzi Disabled Club, and various other athletics development projects in conjunction with KZN Athletics. He was awarded Life Membership of CMA in 2015.

In recently handing over a small token of appreciation to Alen on his retirement from the CMA Board, Cheryl stated, “Alen has been a source of inspiration, motivation and great humility to us all at Comrades – through the courage, indomitable spirit, unstinting loyalty, cheerfulness, resilience and generosity of spirit with which he has set a shining example to us all.

“Charlene too is a cherished member of the Comrades family, with her ever-present care and support to Alen. We admire and thank them both for all they have given, and continue to give to Comrades and athletics in KZN. It is both humbling and uplifting to behold.”