1950 - 1955

2nd screen

1950 Up (25th Race) Silver Jubilee Year
Date Wednesday, 24 May
Weather Cool at start. Strong headwind at Drummond and Inchanga.
Start Venue/Time Durban Post Office, West Street / 6:00
Finish Venue Alexandra Park Athletic and Cycle Track (The Duck Pond)
Time Limit 11 Hours
Approx. Distance 54 M
Entries 33
Starters 29
Finishers – Total 20
Men 20
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 14
% Finishers / Starters 69.0


The first three, of the four, races after the War were won by pre-War winners so, when 1930 winner, Wally Hayward submitted his entry, eyebrows were, naturally, raised in anticipation. He was a distinct threat to Reg Allison, but Allison’s near-record win in 1949, and Hayward’s absence from long-distance running for 20 years, made Allison a slight favourite.

As first light was breaking over the Indian Ocean, a disappointingly small field of 29 were sent away from the Durban Post Office. Allison and Len Wootton went to the front and led the string of runners up to Tollgate. The pair led through Mayville in 24 minutes with Hayward a minute behind. Then came Bill Rufus, John Ballington, Liege Boulle, Morris Alexander and Trevor Allen bunched close behind.

Allison and Wootton reached 45th Cutting, 5 miles into the race, in 32m 52s, with Hayward next in 34m 18s. He was followed by Rufus (35m 32s) and Boulle (35m 42s). Then came Alexander, Allen and Ballington, separated by a few seconds.

Allison and Wootton pressed on over Cowie’s Hill and into Pinetown, passing the Town Hall in 1h 28m 37s. Hayward had closed the gap to 300 yards, reaching the checkpoint in 1h 29m 51s. Ballington was 4th in 1h 36m 4s. The long pull up Field’ Hill told on Wootton, and near the top he was caught by Hayward who had also reduced Allison’s lead to 50 yards.

Hayward was running splendidly and caught Allison at the 20-mile mark and, passing through Hillcrest in 2h 29m 6s, held a lead of 300 yards. Running strongly, Hayward led by just under a mile at the Drummond checkpoint, clocking 3h 17m 8s, with Allison next in 3h 23m 15s. Following him, came Wootton (3h 36m 45s), Allen (3h 43m 40s) and Ballington (3h 44m 4s).

Over the next section to Camperdown, where he was timed at 4h 49m 16s, Hayward built a substantial lead over Allison, who reached there in 5h 10m 16s. Allen passed Wootton a mile before the village.

There was much excitement when the timekeepers realised that Hayward was 34 seconds ahead of Ballington’s time in 1938 when he set a new Best Time, but the euphoria soon wore off when it was noticed that the extreme heat and strong headwind caused Hayward to lose the fluidity in his stride. He dropped to a walk on sections of Polly Shortt’s, but was in no danger of being overtaken. He worked his way wearily to the finish in Alexandra Park to record his second victory; 20 years after his first in 1930.

Allison had dropped a long way behind Hayward, finishing 13 minutes adrift. After a great battle with Wootton, on the run-in from the top of Polly Shortts, Allen finished in 3rd position.


1st Wally Hayward South Africa

6h 46m 25s

2nd Reg Allison South Africa 6h 59m 35s
3rd Trevor Allen South Africa 7h 32m 37s

Len Wootton

South Africa 7h 38m 47s
5th Morris Alexander South Africa 7h 44m 36s
6th John Ballington South Africa 7h 47m 48s
7th Liege Boulle South Africa 7h 59m 14s
8th Brian Dankwerts South Africa 8h 20m 40s
9th W.K. Vorster South Africa 8h 21m 00s
10th Don Spencer South Africa 8h 27m 53s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Wally Hayward (40) South Africa

6h 46m 25s

New Best Time Up

2nd Liege Boulle (41) South Africa 7h 59m 14s
3rd W. K. Vorster (43) South Africa 8h 21m 00s
1951 Down (26th Race)
Date Thursday, 24 May
Weather Chilly at start with mist in valleys, warming to mild later.
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Track Ground
Time Limit 11 Hours
Approx. Distance 56 M
Entries 40
Starters 38
Finishers – Total 25
Men 25
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 19
% Finishers / Starters 65.8


The moment Wally Hayward’s entry arrived, the existing Best Time for the Down Run was in jeopardy.

Under a star-lit pre-dawn sky, the field was sent away. Former double-winner, Bill Savage immediately strode to the front. At the top of Polly Shortt’s, he had a lead of 300 yards over Reg Allison, Hayward and Len Wootton running together. In the short run to the Tumble Inn, Allison had gone to the front and, running strongly, he built a lead of more than half a mile by the time he reached Umlaas Road in 1h 20m. Following the leader was Hayward (1h 23m), Savage (1h 25m), Wootton (1h 27m) Trevor Allen and Morris Alexander (1h 29m), John Ballington (1h 30m) and Liege Boulle (1h 31m).

Allison maintained his lead through Camperdown and Cato Ridge (1h 54m). Hayward, going through a bad patch trailed him by 5 minutes with Savage, Alexander and Allen a further 7 minutes adrift. A few yards further on, Savage retired and slumped on the rear seat oh his attendant’s car.

A new Best Time of 2h 49m 23s for the Pietermaritzburg to Drummond leg, led observers to believe that that Johnny Coleman’s Best Time for the Down Run was under serious threat as Allison stormed through the halfway point. Hayward had recovered from the bad patch and was running strongly. Either of these two could better it. Allen was in 3rd place, passing Drummond.

Climbing up towards Alveston, Alison began to falter, ostensibly for his earlier scorching pace. He finally succumbed on the railway bridge at Botha’s Hill and from this moment, the race was over, as Hayward ran further and further away from his pursuers. On the short run to Hillcrest, his lead was 4m 6s and by Pinetown, which he passed in 4h 34m 53s, it had grown to more than 26 minutes. Roadside opinion agreed that a Best Time was definitely on, provided Hayward maintained his amazing speed.

Never letting up on his drive over Cowie’s Hill, through Westville and into Durban, Hayward crossed the finish line at the Track Ground in 6h 14m 8s; shaving 7m 57s off the previous mark. Many unbelieving eyebrows were raised when Hayward said, afterwards, that he believed it would not be long before the race was run in under 6 hours.

Allison recovered as he neared Durban but, such was the superb effort of the winner, he trailed in 24 minutes later. When Allen arrived a further 31 minutes back, the finishing order of the top three was exactly the same as in 1951.


1st Wally Hayward * South Africa

6h 14m 08

New Best Time Down

2nd Reg Allison South Africa 6h 38m 40s
3rd Trevor Allen South Africa 7h 00m 15s
4th John Ballington South Africa 7h 16m 53s
5th Arthur Hampton South Africa 7h 20m 13s
6th Liege Boulle South Africa 7h 33m 39s
7th Fred Morrison South Africa 7h 38m 44s
8th Morris Alexander South Africa 7h 52m 06s
9th Allan Ferguson South Africa 8h 01m 24s
10th J.H.P. Ayres South Africa 8h 20m 57s

* First Sub-6:15 Down Run

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Wally Hayward (41) South Africa

6h 14m 08s

New Best Time Down

2nd Liege Boulle (42) South Africa 7h 33m 39s
1952 Up (27th Race)
Date Monday, 14 July
Weather Very cold at start. Cold localised drizzle at Drummond.
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 34
Starters 32
Finishers – Total 23
Men 23
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 17
% Finishers / Starters 71.9


With Hayward concentrating on the Helsinki Olympic marathon and Allison in retirement, there was no clear-cut favourite.

The date of the race was changed to 14 July, the Queen’s Birthday. The mid-winter date would, subsequently, prove to be unpopular.

First light saw the leaders, Don Spencer, Ed Luckin and Bill Rufus passing through Mayville, 25 minutes into the race. The consistent Trevor Allen went by in 9th position. At 45th Cutting, Rufus had gone ahead, but only 50 yards separated the first 6 runners.

As the leaders approached Cowie’s Hill, Spencer had a 500-yard gap over a large chasing pack. He was still setting the pace at Pinetown (1h 36m) with Martin, Luckin and Hampton passing by in 1h 39m. On the comparatively level stretch from Kloof to Hillcrest, where he went through the checkpoint in 2h 39m, Spencer had increased his lead over Martin (2h 44m) to 5 minutes. About 100 yards adrift, came Allen followed by Gerald Walsh and Hampton (2h 44m 30s) and Allan Ferguson (2h 46m).

Spencer arrived at Drummond in 3h 30m 42s with Walsh (3h 33m 58s) and Hampton (3h 34m 20s) next through.

Spencer climbed Inchanga with ease. Allen moved up and went over the top in company with Walsh and Hampton, but then he pulled away and set off in pursuit of the leader. Spencer was stricken with cramp in the vicinity of Harrison Flats, and Allen reduced the distance between them at an alarming rate. At Cato Ridge, Spencer was a mere 300 yards in front. Spencer hung on grimly and going into Camperdown his lead was down to 32 seconds. Finally, on the sharp hill before Umlaas Road, Allen went to the front. Still, Spencer refused to quit. He remained close to Allen as they approached Pietermaritzburg. Walsh, in the meantime, was crowding on the pace.

As he crossed the bridge near the Tumble Inn, Allen held a narrow 100-yard advantage over Spencer, but Allen was noted for his ability on the hills.

Over the final 4 miles, Allen went further ahead, while the tiring Spencer just managed to hold off a determined late challenge by Walsh.


1st Trevor Allen South Africa

7h 00m 02s

2nd Don Spencer South Africa 7h 06m 17s
3rd Gerald Walsh South Africa 7h 07m 23s
4th Allan Ferguson South Africa 7h 13m 15s
5th John Woods South Africa 7h 35m 38s
6th Allen Boyce South Africa 7h 37m 18s
7th Jackie Mekler South Africa 7h 45m 03s
8th Fred Morrison South Africa 8h 07m 32s
9th Allan Gillespie South Africa 8h 13m 13s
10th Major Farrant South Africa 8h 38m 41s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Fred Morrison (40) South Africa

8h 07m 32s

1953 Down (28th Race)
Date Monday, 13 July
Weather Very cold at start warming to mild later.
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg / 6:30
Finish Venue Hoy Park
Time Limit 11 Hours
Approx. Distance 56 M
Entries 40
Starters 34
Finishers – Total 26
Men 26
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 20
% Finishers / Starters 76.5


As far back as 1925, Arthur Newton predicted that the 6-hour barrier could be beaten on the Down Run.

After he won the 1951 Down Run, Wally Hayward said he believed that the Down Run could be run in under 6 hours.

The 1953 field comprised a galaxy of super stars. Hayward was at his peak. South African Marathon Champion, Syd Luyt, who finished 6th in the 1948 London Olympic Marathon, was among the starters. Former winners, Trevor Allen and Allen Boyce could be relied upon to make things uncomfortable for anyone aiming at top honours. Much was expected as the field set out into the early morning gloom.

Hayward had gone to the front, setting a blistering pace, by the time the field had left the city. He reached the crest of Polly Shortts in 34m with Boyce just 30 yards back. Allen was a further 100 yards behind. Luyt went over the top in 37 minutes and Jackie Mekler followed in 39 minutes.

Hayward crossed the Mpusheni River in 54m 25s, followed by Boyce and Allen (55m 35s). Mekler went by in 1h 1m 25s. Hayward was pulling away from his pursuers and at the first official checkpoint, at Camperdown, he was clocked at 1h 36m 55s. Behind him, a thrilling duel for second position was developing. Boyce was second through the checkpoint in 1h 40 25s, closely followed by Allen 1h 40m 35s, Mercer Davies (1h 40m 54s), Luyt (1h 41m 25s). Mekler came past in 1h 46m.

Cato Ridge witnessed a shuffling of the leading positions with Luyt moving into 2nd with Allen going past Boyce to take 3rd place.  

A big crowd welcomed Hayward at Drummond in 2h 53m 2s. The next arrivals at the halfway mark were Luyt (2h 57m 40s), Allen (3h 1m 7s) and Boyce (3h 4m 13s). Interest was now focused on Luyt’s chances of hauling in Hayward, but Hayward soon destroyed that thought by increasing the distance between himself and Luyt to 5 minutes, by the time he arrived in Hillcrest.

The race now belonged to Hayward. He charged through the Pinetown crossroads in 4h 27m 35s; a full 7 minutes faster than his time in 1951. Luyt came through 7m 3s later, with Allen checking in at 4h 49m 49s.

When Hayward went past the Westville Post Office in 5h 2m, a new Best Time was no longer a distinct possibility; it was, in the absence of a major disaster, almost certain. Never before had a runner been on the Durban boundary so early. Hayward strode triumphantly into the city and ran across the finish line at Hoy Park to continuing rounds of tumultuous applause when his time was announced as 5h 52m 30s.

Luyt produced a stunning performance for a novice, claiming 2nd place in 6h 5m 8s, while Allen, ever consistent, came in 3rd for the third year in succession.


1st Wally Hayward *   ** South Africa

5h 52m 30s

New Best Time Down

2nd Syd Luyt * South Africa 6h 05m 08s
3rd Trevor Allen South Africa 6h 28m 15s
4th Allen Boyce South Africa 6h 45m 11s
5th Jackie Mekler South Africa 6h 52m 59s
6th Frans Mare South Africa 7h 04m 57s
7th Liege Boulle South Africa 7h 25m 37s
8th Mercer Davies South Africa 7h 36m 25s
9th Major Farrant South Africa 7h 53m 55s
10th Laurie Barnes South Africa 7h 55m 24s

* Syd Luyt had represented South Africa in the Marathon at the 1948 Summer   Olympics in London. He finished in 6th position in 2h 38m 11s.

* Wally Hayward and Luyt went on to represent South Africa in the Marathon at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. Hayward finished in 10th position (2h 31m 50) and Luyt finished in 11th position (2h 32m 41s).  

** First Sub-6:00 Down Run

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Wally Hayward (43) South Africa

5h 52m 30s

New Best Time Down

2nd Liege Boulle (44) South Africa 7h 25m 37s
1954 Up (29th Race)
Date Saturday, 12 June
Weather Cloudless and cool at start, warming to very hot early afternoon.
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 51
Starters 48
Finishers – Total 34
Men 34
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 28
% Finishers / Starters 70.8


Would Wally Hayward score a 5th victory and so equal the feats of Arthur Newton and Hardy Ballington? That was the question on everybody’s lips. Ballington intimated that Hayward would finish in a time between 6h 10m and 6h 15m. When the field of 34 was sent on its way, the answer would be revealed within the next six-and-a-half hours.

When the first rays of sunlight appeared over the eastern horison, Gerald Walsh, Mercer Davies, Hayward, Len Wootton and Trevor Allen were together in a compact group that ran under the illuminated Tollgate Bridge. Davies went to the front soon after Tollgate and, reaching 45th Cutting in 33m 28s, he had established a lead of 150 yards over the rest.

He continued running strongly and increased his lead to 300 yards at Westville, but was complaining of a sore foot. He struggled on painfully until, finally, at the foot of Cowie’s Hill, Wootton went past him, as did Walsh, Allen and Hayward running in a group, just 30 yards behind Wootton.

Dropping down Cowie’s into Pinetown, Walsh went past the checkpoint in 1h 28m 38s, 15 yards ahead of Hayward and Allen. On the long slog up Field’s Hill, Walsh surrendered his slender lead as both Hayward and Allen went past. Allen refused to allow Hayward to get too far ahead and when they reached Gillitts, he was only 50 yards behind the leader, with Walsh another 250 yards further adrift.

Over the relatively level section to Hillcrest, Hayward began to assert himself, passing through the village in 2h 25m 40s. Allen (2h 26m 2s) was 2nd and Walsh 3rd in 2h 27m 43s. The 7-mile stretch to the midpoint at Drummond included the punishing Botha’s Hill, and over this testing piece of road, the gaps between the leaders opened. Hayward enjoyed a lead of 600 yards at Drummond, passing the checkpoint in 3h 11m 41s with Allen following him in 3h 13m 37s and Walsh in 3h 18m 25s.

The tortuous Inchanga held no terrors for Hayward and from the crest onwards, he simply ran away from his opponents. At Harrison Flats, he was 7 minutes ahead of Allen, who was a further 8 minutes in front of the labouring Walsh. Devouring the miles through Cato Ridge, Hayward sped past the checkpoint at Camperdown in 4h 32m 4s; nearly 18 minutes inside Hardy Ballington’s time to that point in 1938 when he set the existing Best Time for the Up Run. Allen went by in 4h 47m 18s, followed by a very weary Walsh in 4h 58m 32s.

Despite the rising temperature, Hayward sailed, untroubled, over the hilly stretch to Polly Shortt’s. When he reached the summit, he was 20 minutes ahead of Ballington’s time. An ecstatically enthusiastic crowd welcomed him on his arrival in Alexandra Park. Ballington’s Best Time of 6h 32m 26s, established 16 years earlier, was obliterated.

Allen and Walsh could not match the winner’s pace over the final quarter of the race. They finished a long way behind, but still finished in under 7 hours; the first occasion on which the first three home had beaten that barrier on an Up Run.


1st Wally Hayward * South Africa

6h 12m 55s

New Best Time Up

2nd Trevor Allen South Africa 6h 45m 14s
3rd Gerald Walsh South Africa 6h 58m 38s
4th Frans Mare South Africa 7h 05m 21s
5th J.J. Smit South Africa 7h 46m 12s
6th Harold Strachan South Africa 7h 48m 44s
7th Liege Boulle South Africa 8h 02m 32s
8th Jackie Goldie South Africa 8h 06m 14s
9th Charlie Chase South Africa 8h 07m 00s
10th Gerald Davis South Africa 8h 15m 50s

* First Sub-6:30 and Sub 6:15 Up Run

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Wally Hayward (44) South Africa

6h 12m 55s

New Best Time Up

2nd Liege Boulle (45) South Africa 8h 02m 32s
1955 Down (30th Race)
Date Tuesday, 31 May
Weather Cold early morning warming to mild later.
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Track Ground
Time Limit 11 Hours
Approx. Distance 56 M
Entries 98
Starters 92
Finishers – Total 64
Men 64
Medals – Gold 6
Silver 58
% Finishers / Starters 69.6


With Hayward not running, the perennially consistent, Trevor Allen, was installed as the short-priced favourite in bookmakers terms. Since 1950, he had never finished lower than 3rd position. It was his big chance to repeat his 1952 victory, although tough opposition could be expected from seasoned campaigners like Gerald Walsh, Frans Mare and Mercer Davies. A surprise entry was the 1932 and 1948 winner, Bill Savage, making a comeback.

When the field crossed the city boundary, a trio of Walsh, Savage and Davies held a 300-yard advantage over a big group led by Allen. Savage surged as they ran to the foot of Polly Shortt’s and by the top of the hill, he was 100 yards ahead of Walsh, Davies and Allen who were running in a small group with other unfancied performers.

Through the valleys to Camperdown, Savage set a steady pace and was timed at 1h 39m 16s. Just past Cato Ridge, Walsh went into the lead as Savage began to weaken. Allen moved into 3rd position with Davies on his shoulder. Mare was also making a move as he left Cato Ridge, but was still a considerable distance adrift of the frontrunners.

Walsh drifted down Inchanga, into Drummond, where the order was Walsh (2h 59m 25s), Allen (3h 2m 50s), Davies (3h 2m 55s). Then followed Savage, David Dodds and Mare. Walsh showed no signs of weakness on the roller coaster section to Hillcrest where he was timed at 3h 46m 3s, with Allen next in 3h 49m 56s. Davies was hanging on to 3rd place, with Dodds and Mare close behind him.

Walsh had lengthened his lead by Pinetown and, although appearing weary, held a 7-minute advantage over Allen. When he reached Westville, it was clear that Walsh had the race firmly under control, but behind him, major changes were taking place. Davies lost his 3rd place to Dodds, who closed to within a quarter-of-a-mile of Allen. Behind them, Mare, with his long, loping stride was gaining on all ahead of him. Just before 45th Cutting, Dodds overtook a very, weary Allen who appeared to have nothing left as Mare also went past at 45th Cutting.

The scurrying Mare caught Dodds 400 yards further down the hill to claim 2nd place, right on the doorway to Durban, but there was no possibility of hauling in Walsh. Whose time of 6h 6m 32s was the 3rd fastest ever.  Allen, however, was not to be out done. From appearing completely distraught, less than a mile back, he recovered to overtake Dodds and retain his wonderful record of finishing in the top three once again; for the past 6 years in succession.


1st Gerald Walsh South Africa

6h 06m 32s

2nd Frans Mare South Africa 6h 18m 34s
3rd Trevor Allen South Africa 6h 24m 13s
4th David Dodds Rhodesia 6h 25m 15s
5th Dave Sansom South Africa 6h 55m 30s
6th Mercer Davies South Africa 7h 04m 28s
7th J.J. Smit South Africa 7h 06m 05s
8th Mannie McMaster South Africa 7h 08m 52s
9th Len Bernon South Africa 7h 15m 29s
9th Allan Gillespie South Africa 7h 20m 14s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Liege Boulle (46) South Africa

7h 26m 47s

2nd Fred Morrison (43) South Africa 7h 43m 02s
3rd Herman Delvin (42) South Africa 9h 22m 28s