1990 - 1995

2nd screen

1990 Up (65th Race)
Date Thursday, 31 May
Weather Cloudless and very hot.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 6/24
DBN 15/25
Start Venue/Time Old Durban Railway Station, Pine Street / 6:00
Finish Venue Jan Smuts Stadium
Time Limit 11 Hours
Official Distance 87.400 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 15.404 km/hr (3m 54s /km)
Women 12.485 km/hr (4m 48s /km)
Entries 12796
Starters 11779
Finishers – Total 10266
Men 9616
Women 650
Medals – Gold 13
Silver 847
Bronze 9406
% Finishers / Starters 87.2


At 34 years of age, Bruce Fordyce acknowledged that his best years were behind him.

He had, however, committed himself to another Comrades, knowing that an attempt at the Up Record was not possible.

Once the massive field had left Durban, the race took on much the same shape as the previous Up Run in 1988. Boysie van Staden and Jetman Msuthu were, again, the first to emerge after the annual TV no-hopers had drifted into oblivion. The pair led through Pinetown, by which stage, Mark Page was running easily in 3rd place.

On the gentle downhill from Botha’s Hill to Drummond, Page caught the two leaders and the trio went past the halfway mark 5 minutes ahead of Fordyce who was experiencing uncomfortable episodes of nausea. He kept going, however, but the discomfort was palpable.

By Camperdown, Page and Msuthu had dopped van Staden and appeared confident, with Fordyce 4 minutes adrift. Meshack Radebe, from nowhere at halfway, had been working his way through those ahead of him, had drawn level with Fordyce. He looked a potential winner. Hoseah Tjale was also making positive moves and was about to enter the fray among the leaders.

Page, more than any of the leaders, was aware of Fordyce’s finishing power over his favourite stretch of road, so he pushed harder on the tantalizing downhill to Mpusheni, increasing his advantage to four-and-a-half minutes. As he commenced the ascent of Little Polly’s, Page was in absolute control and only needed to maintain his pace to win.

If Page had been aware of Fordyce’s bout of nausea, he might have put in a stronger, more decisive, surge. Running in joint 3rd position, with Radebe rubbing shoulders with him, Fordyce realised that his persisting nausea led him to believe that Radebe would out-run him on the hills before Pietermaritzburg.  

On Little Polly’s, for no apparent reason, Msuthu retired and Radebe fell off the pace. Up front, Page was starting to feel the first signs of fatigue, but his lead should still carry him through. Then, on Polly Shortt’s, cramp set in. Page turned and looked back in anguish. Fordyce was coming and there was nothing he could do about it. Try as he may, he was a beaten man. Fordyce surged to the front and ran unchallenged to the finish for a 9th victory.

He was not aware of Tjale’s sustained effort over the final few kilometres. Both Tjale and Radebe went past a devastated Page, in the final dash, to claim the minor places.


1st Bruce Fordyce South Africa 5h 40m 25s
2nd Hoseah Tjale South Africa 5h 45m 19s
3rd Meshack Radebe South Africa 5h 45m 40s
4th Mark Page South Africa 5h 46m 42s
5th Jean-Marc Bellocq France 5h 47m 32s
6th Ephraim Sekotlong South Africa 5h 48m 01s
7th Boysie van Staden South Africa 5h 48m 37s
8th Shaun Meiklejohn South Africa 5h 48m 58s
9th Gary Turner South Africa 5h 49m 11s
10th Nick Bester South Africa 5h 52m 43s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Johnny Halberstadt (40) South Africa 5h 59m 30s
2nd Peter McNamara (41) South Africa 6h 09m 53s
3rd Johan Schoeman (40) South Africa 6h 13m 33s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st John Dixon (50) South Africa

6h 43m 14s New Best Time Up

2nd Caspar Greeff (55) South Africa 6h 56m 19s
3rd Kenne de Kock (55) South Africa 7h 00m 37s


1st Mike Gierke (60) South Africa

8h 22m 24s

2nd Willie Loedolff (62) South Africa 8h 48m 21s
3rd John Coulthard (60) South Africa 8h 53m 47s


The best news in the lead-up to race day was that Lindsay Weight had submitted her entry. However, the sad news was that both Helen Lucre and Frith van der Merwe had elected to give the race a miss. This was a great disappointment as there were no other top contenders entered.

Having been away from Comrades for a few years, Weight’s state of fitness, and preparedness, was unknown. Based on her previous performances, however, she was expected to be near the front, when the race for top honours began.

Without any clear indicators to go on, anyone could emerge from the throng. From early on, it became clear that it was certain to develop into a tactical race rather than an attempt at a record, which appeared to be out of reach of any runner in the field.

The strategy looked like developing into a wait-and-see game. The lead changed regularly with Annette Schoeman, Nadine Harrison, Di Terreblanche, Tilda Tearle and Denise Lorenzen all enjoying, albeit brief, spells in the lead.

Going through Drummond, no more than 11 minutes separated the first five at the checkpoint. As the field assembled, in reasonably close order, on the outskirts of Durban, it was Naidene Harrison who led by 4 minutes, passing 45th Cutting. Following in her wake was Terreblanche, Tearle and Schoeman.

Harrison seemed very comfortable and, bearing a catastrophe, was unlikely to be reeled in. The uncertainty was, of the chasers, who had the reserves left to determine the final order. Over the final six kilometers the answer was revealed. Harrison held on, slightly increasing her margin of victory. Schoeman had that little extra, with Terreblanche and Tearle following her home at roughly two-minute intervals.


1st Naidene Harrison South Africa

7h 02m 00s

2nd Annette Schoeman South Africa 7h 07m 35s
3rd Diana Terreblanche South Africa 7h 09m 42s
4th Tilda Tearle South Africa 7h 11m 16s
5th Jean Cooper South Africa 7h 17m 37s
6th Denise Lorenzen South Africa 7h 20m 57s
7th Carol Crosley South Africa 7h 27m 12s
8th Lindsay Weight South Africa 7h 27m 26s
9th Hazel Hairs South Africa 7h 29m 02s
10th Shirley Middlemost South Africa 7h 29m 31s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Hazel Hairs (40) South Africa 7h 29m 02s
2nd Marietta Sassenberg (40) South Africa 7h 37m 52s
3rd Priscilla Carlisle (41) South Africa 7h 54m 43s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Hazel Colborne (54) South Africa

9h 53m 54s

2nd Thelma Fouche (56) South Africa 10h 24m 45
3rd Judy van Niekerk (50) South Africa 10h 37m 45


1st Anna Villet (64) South Africa

10h 58m 19

1991 Down (66th Race)
Date Friday, 31 May
Weather Mild pleasant day.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 2/23
DBN 10/25
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Kingsmead Stadium
Time Limit 11 Hours
Official Distance 89.200 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 15.700 km/hr (3m 49s /km)
Women 14.530 km/hr (4m 08s /km)
Entries 15019
Starters 13988
Finishers – Total 12078
Men 11149
Women 929
Medals – Gold 13
Silver 1122
Bronze 10943
% Finishers / Starters 86.3


“Will he get number ten?”

That was the question on everyone’s lips. The question should really have been “is his heart still in it?”

Despite the new generation emerging; usurpers to the king’s crown, Bruce Fordyce was still the nations overwhelming favourite to annex a tenth victory.

The problem was that the view of the one person who realised that the national dream may not be achievable, was not taken into consideration when pre-race predictions were made.

Fordyce, himself, was not convinced that he was capable of another win.

The champion, however, was the focus of the television cameras as the runners took their places on the start line. Fordyce was a cautious starter who possessed a lethal closing kick that had been so tellingly demonstrated, during the course of an entire decade. The strategy had never failed him.

What was strange for him this morning was that after twelve or thirteen kilometres, he caught up to a woman competitor. It was Frith van der Merwe. He had never started so cautiously that a woman was ahead of him at any stage of the race during his entire career. Yet he caught her and then moved ahead to eventually reel in his long-time adversary, and friend, Hoseah Tjale.

The first half of the race panned out precisely as it had done, nearly every year, since the early 80s. The spectators at Drummond knew that another victory was assured when Fordyce passed by, three-and-a-half minutes after the lead group comprising Nick Bester, Shaun Meikljohn, Israel Morake, Charl Mattheus and Colin Thomas. They were certain that Fordyce had only to maintain his pace and the rest would be swept away, as Durban approached.

Going through Hillcrest, the leaders, Bester, Meiklejohn and Morake, were watching each other. They weren’t worried about the nine-time winner. Information from their seconds was that Fordyce was fading… and no longer a danger.

Suddenly it was all over. Fordyce stopped and walked off the road. He had had enough. An epoch had ended. He admitted to the media in attendance, “if this was any race other than Comrades, I would bail. But because it is Comrades, I’m going on to the end”. He did. He finished, to massive applause, in 6h 57m 02s.

Ahead of the drama at Hillcrest, the lead changed hands frequently, but as the end game developed on the approaches to Durban, Bester showed the necessary resolve and held on to take a narrow victory from Meiklejohn and Thomas, who edged out Morake in a desperate sprint for the line.


1st Nick Bester South Africa

5h 40m 53s

2nd Shaun Meiklejohn South Africa 5h 43m 55s
3rd Colin Thomas South Africa 5h 45m 13s
4th Israel Morake South Africa 5h 45m 43s
5th Gary Turner South Africa 5h 46m 28s
6th Charl Mattheus South Africa 5h 47m 31s
7th Lucas Matlala South Africa 5h 48m 33s
8th Alan Robb South Africa 5h 51m 49s
9th Simon Tshabalala South Africa 5h 53m 17s
10th Madumetja Mogashane South Africa 5h 54m 15s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Arthur Lemos (45) South Africa

5h 54m 46s

2nd Johnny Halberstadt (41) South Africa 6h 08m 40s
3rd Louis Harmse (40) South Africa 6h 16m 34s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st John Dixon (51) South Africa

6h 38m 04s New Best Time Down

2nd Caspar Greeff (56) South Africa 6h 52m 26s
3rd Malcolm Don–Wauchope (51) South Africa 6h 59m 36s


1st Willie Loedolff (63) South Africa

7h 51m 58s New Best Time Down

2nd Clive Crawley (60) South Africa 8h 17m 01s
3rd Lars Nayler (60) South Africa 8h 23m 05s


Frith van der Merwe was back after another series of sensational results in the build-up to Comrades. It also indicated that the result had been settled long before race-day. The real race, it was assumed, would be to decide the Silver and Bronze Medallions.

That is how it played out.

van der Merwe went to the front, from the gun, and simply ran away from every woman in the race. So fast was her initial pace that Bruce Fordyce only caught her 12 or 13 kilometres after the start. She crossed the line in 6h 8m 19s, (the 2nd fastest Down time after her 5h 54m 43s in 1989), 46 minutes ahead of the runner-up.

Even though the Gold Medal had been awarded more than three-quarters of an hour earlier, as predicted, the battle for the minor places was a close affair with Heleen Reece beating Tilda Tearle by 44 seconds.

Despite the prediction of years before, that a woman will never complete the Comrades Marathon in under 7h 30m to earn Silver Medal, was justifiably refuted by the results of the day. That the standard of women’s ultra distance running was improving at such a rapid rate was confirmed when 17 women romped home inside the 7h 30m barrier. 


1st Frith van der Merwe South Africa 6h 08m 19s
2nd Heleen Reece South Africa 6h 54m 17s
3rd Tilda Tearle South Africa 6h 55m 01s
4th Diana Terreblanche South Africa 7h 00m 13s
5th Frances van Blerk South Africa 7h 04m 49s
6th Gail Claase South Africa 7h 10m 09s
7th Naidene Harrison South Africa 7h 11m 47s
8th Rae Bisschoff South Africa 7h 12m 05s
9th Valerie Bleazard South Africa 7h 21m 06s
10th Berna Daly South Africa 7h 23m 57s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Gail Buhrmann (47) South Africa

7h 27m 26s

2nd Rosemarie Lugwig (40) South Africa 7h 39m 39s
3rd Suzanne De Villiers (46) South Africa 7h 55m 21s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Sarah Hackney (50) South Africa

8h 16m 19s New Best Time Down

2nd Janet Skinner (51) South Africa 8h 35m 13s
3rd Willemien Smuts (50) South Africa 8h 42m 58s
1992 Up (67th Race)
Date Sunday, 31 May
Weather Cool at start. Mild to warm later.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 1/27
DBN 9/29
Start Venue/Time Durban Post Office, West Street / 6:00
Finish Venue Jan Smuts Stadium
Time Limit 11 Hours
Official Distance 86.700 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 15.026 km/hr (4m 00s /km)
Women 12.654 km/hr (4m 45s /km)
Entries 13237
Starters 12508
Finishers – Total 10692
Men 9817
Women 875
Medals – Gold 13
Silver 847
Bronze 9832
% Finishers / Starters 85.5


The Fordyce era was over and consigned to a glorious period in history.

Who would, or could, fill the void left by the great champion?

Nick Bester would be defending the crown he won the previous year. Mark Page was Fordyce’s foil the two previous Up Runs, but only over two-thirds of the race distance, before cramp in the hamstrings ruined his chances, on both occasions, on the run-in.

These two appeared to have the most impressive past records to install them as pre-race favourites. Not to be overlooked, however, were top performers like Shaun Meiklejohn, Boysie van Staden, Thompson Magawana, Charl Mattheus, Jetman Msuthu and Gary Turner. All were capable of winning performances.

When the field reached Drummond, the halfway point in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, many of the TV runners were still there but, significantly, so were all those among whom the major positions would be contested in just under three hours. In that amorphous group were Page, van Staden, Mattheus, Msuthu, Bester, and Meiklejohn.

Page knew that his tactic of going hard from Cato Ridge, in the two previous Up Runs, would have secured two wins, had it not been for Fordyce’s deadly final kick on the big hills outside Pietermaritzburg. He opted for the same strategy again and surged, building a substantial lead. Nobody responded. Bester dropped out of contention and Mattheus was battling through a bad patch.

Page seemed to have everything under control with victory in his grasp. And then it happened again… as it had in the two previous Up Runs; cramp in the hamstrings as he ascended Polly Shortts. He stopped, clutched his leg, started jogging painfully… stopped again and… walked further.

He looked back and saw Mattheus, having recovered from his earlier problems, climbing the monster hill, seemingly, without any effort at all. Moments later Mattheus strode past Page, followed by Msuthu a short while later.

Mattheus ran untroubled to the finish at Jan Smuts Stadium where he stopped the clock in 5h 42m 34s. Msuthu maintained his 2nd position. A distraught Page dug deep holding off a fast-finishing Meiklejohn by a mere 39 seconds.

Weeks later, the news broke that Mattheus had failed a drug test when his urine sample showed traces of a substance banned by the IAAF. Having innocently taken an over-the-counter remedy for a throat infection, that had no performance-enhancing benefits whatsoever, Athletics South Africa disqualified him.

All finishers were, as a result, promoted by one position.


1st Jetman Msuthu South Africa

5h 46m 11s

2nd Mark Page South Africa 5h 48m 58s
3rd Shaun Meiklejohn South Africa 5h 49m 37s
4th Koos Morwane South Africa 5h 51m 21s
5th Nick Bester South Africa 5h 52m 25s
6th Boysie van Staden South Africa 5h 52m 28s
7th Theo Rafiri South Africa 5h 52m 39s
8th Lucas Matlala South Africa 5h 53m 51s
9th Zephania Ndaba South Africa 5h 54m 08s
10th Joseph Mokoena South Africa 5h 57m 27s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st David Mponye (42) South Africa

6h 07m 28s

2nd Des Rowntree (46) South Africa 6h 16m 28s
3rd Louis Harmse (41) South Africa 6h 17m 19s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Julius Nkosi (50) South Africa

6h 56m 08s

2nd David Jele (50) South Africa 6h 59m 28s
3rd Moses Kunene (50) South Africa 7h 10m 50s


1st Willie Loedolff (64) South Africa

8h 08m 35s

2nd Richard Kgoete (60) South Africa 8h 20m 00s
3rd Lars Nayler (61) South Africa 8h 33m 46s


An injury to Frith van der Merwe robbed the race of another record, or close to record, performance. Perhaps she had over-raced during the past few years but, as in the case of Bruce Fordyce, her best years were, effectively, behind her. Never again would the local ultra distance scene be mesmerised by the scintillating performances she treated them to over a short career of five years. At her peak, she was, unquestionably, the best ultra runner in the world. Sadly, another golden epoch had passed into history.

Again, there was no outright favourite. If the results of the past year were an accurate measure of ability – 17 women earned Silver Medals in 1991 – there were a number of high-class performers who were certain to ensure an exciting race.

Heleen Reece, Tilda Tearle and Diana Terreblanche; 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in 1991 could all be counted upon to produce something special. There were also a number of others, lingering on the periphery of that group, who could perform above themselves at any time.

Two surprise names appeared with the early leaders once the field started sorting itself out. Pat Lithgow and Susan Robertson were only a short distance off the main contenders who were running in a somewhat loose group at the head of the race. Sanet Beukes was showing signs of prominence, early on, but soon dropped behind the main group.

Frances van Blerk was the leader through Drummond and had, by that stage, established a three-minute lead over Tearle and Robertson who were separated by 50 metres. Running steadily, van Blerk, gradually, but consistently, built a comfortable lead and put a quarter-of-an-hour between herself and Tearle at the finish. Robertson staved off a determined late dash by Petro Pankhurst, to take third position.


1st Frances van Blerk South Africa 6h 51m 05s
2nd Tilda Tearle South Africa 7h 07m 44s
3rd Susan Robertson South Africa 7h 11m 25s
4th Petro Pankhurst South Africa 7h 12m 08s
5th Pat Lithgow South Africa 7h 13m 04s
6th Denise Lorenzen South Africa 7h 13m 33s
7th Sanet Beukes South Africa 7h 19m 15s
8th Dalene Vermeulen South Africa 7h 24m 09s
9th Astrid Damerell South Africa 7h 26m 41s
10th Desiree Botha South Africa 7h 30m 01s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Ralie Smit (47) South Africa

7h 57m 24s

2nd Audrey Steyn (43) South Africa 8h 02m 05s
3rd Betsie Haarhoff (46) South Africa 8h 14m 27s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Debbie Goosen (50) Namibia

8h 39m 43s New Best Time Up

2nd Jean Cammidge (51) South Africa 9h 16m 52s
3rd Paddy Williams (51) South Africa 9h 25m 34s
1993 Down (68th Race)
Date Monday, 31 May
Weather Clear day. Mild to warm.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 3/23
DBN 14/22
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Kingsmead Stadium
Time Limit 11 Hours
Official Distance 89.900 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 15.880 km/hr (3m 47s /km)
Women 12.992 km/hr (4m 37s /km)
Entries 13595
Starters 13032
Finishers – Total 11319
Men 10217
Women 1102
Medals – Gold 13
Silver 990
Bronze 10316
% Finishers / Starters 86.9


Gradually the new generation were making their presence felt and staking a claim in the race. There was a galaxy of new and exciting stars coming through but… who would be the one to shine brightest at the right time.

Shaun Meiklejohn and evergreen Deon Holtzhausen had established themselves as potential winners. Then there was Theo Rafiri and Mohala Mohloli who were impressive in build-up events, as well as standard marathon specialist and Two Oceans record holder, Thompson Magawana. On top of that galaxy, was a German, Charly Doll, who had a sub-6h 30m best, for 100 kilometres.

A sumptuous feast of ultra distance delights was on the menu.

No prisoners were taken as the field settled down after exiting the Capital city. Those who were reckoned to be the main contenders, when Durban appeared on the horizon, remained in close order. Allowing any one, or more, to break free, and dictate the race, was not permitted.

Shortly after passing Drummond, Doll did just that, and went to the front. Local commentators knew that such a strategy was foolish and were convinced that he would capitulate further down the road. The South Africans, they maintained, working together, would later run him down with ease.

It didn’t happen… until Botha’s Hill arrived.

On the big drop, Rafiri put his nose in front of the chasing group. Doll was still running steadily… but Rafiri was clearly going faster. At Hillcrest, the gap had closed. Doll was aware that an attack was imminent and he did not appear as comfortable as he did, when he assumed the lead, after the midpoint.

On the gentle descent to Kloof, Rafiri struck. He had been inexorably drawing closer to the leader and at the entrance to the village; he strode past Doll and into the lead. It appeared to onlookers that Rafiri had the race in his grasp; appearing to be in total control. The race was clearly his. All he had to do was maintain his momentum.

Then… he committed a cardinal sin. He opened up to full throttle down Field’s Hill.

Such was his enthusiasm, he opened a gap of 4 minutes on Doll, but was clearly in trouble along the Pinetown Flats. This was confirmed as he took his first strides up Cowie’s Hill. He was finished. Doll sensed this and closed in on the exhausted leader. In the meantime, Mohloli had broken clear of the chasing group, went into 3rd position and set off in pursuit of Doll.

With Rafiri losing ground all the time, both Doll and Mohloli closed in. Doll waited patiently and once over Tollgate, opened up. As Doll went past, Rafiri realised he was beaten and his main concern was to hold on to his second place. It was a desperate struggle, but he managed to do so and held Mohloli off by a mere 25 seconds.


1st Charly Doll Germany

5h 39m 41s

2nd Theo Rafiri South Africa 5h 42m 16s
3rd Mohala Mohloli Lesotho 5h 42m 41s
4th Shaun Meiklejohn South Africa 5h 46m 24s
5th Thompson Magawana South Africa 5h 49m 29s
6th Rudi du Plessis South Africa 5h 50m 44s
7th Zephania Ndaba South Africa 5h 52m 21s
8th Deon Holtzhausen South Africa 5h 52m 29s
9th Eloi De Oliveira South Africa 5h 53m 27s
10th Simon Williamson South Africa 5h 54m 18s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Deon Holtzhausen (40) South Africa

5h 52m 29s New Best Time Down

2nd Roland Vuillemenot (47) France 5h 57m 24s
3rd Siphiwe Gqele (42) South Africa 6h 01m 03s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Danny Shongwe (53) South Africa

6h 24m 04s New Best Time Down

2nd David Jele (51)) South Africa 6h 27m 43s
3rd Carel van Wyk (57) South Africa 6h 52m 40s


1st Richard Kgoete (61) South Africa

7h 30m 16s New Best Time Down

2nd Piet Botha (60) South Africa 7h 53m 43s
3rd Denis Scott (60) South Africa 8h 15m 02s


The race, for the second successive year lacked an out-and-out favourite. None of the leading contenders possessed the ability of Frith van der Merwe. Consequently, any one, of many, stood an equal chance of success.

Tilda Tearle had finished third and second, in the previous two races. She also was a serial top ten performer, having collected numerous Silver Medals along the way. She seemed ripe for victory, but with women like Rae Bischoff, Sanet Beukes, Diana Terreblanche and Berna Daly among the starters, the ultimate winner, whoever she may be, would have to run well to achieve that victory.

As is so often the case, the first women to feature, do so after a fair distance has been covered. Going through Cato Ridge, spread over short, irregular intervals, were Daly, Terreblanche, Tearle and Beukes. This quartet dominated the first half of the race, swapping positions from time to time. At Pinetown, with 70 kilometres behind her, Tearle struck out for the lead when she broke free from the lead group. Once Cowie’s Hill had been disposed of, Bischoff moved into second place, but she made no impression on the lead that Tearle had established. Daly also started to improve her position, moving into third place at Westville. The top three were firmly entrenched at this stage and the situation never changed as the race drew to a close.

Tearle consolidated her lead and finished a full 5 minutes ahead of Bischoff, who was a further 3 minutes in front of Daly.


1st Tilda Tearle South Africa 6h 55m 07s
2nd Rae Bischoff South Africa 7h 00m 30s
3rd Berna Daly South Africa 7h 03m 32s
4th Sanet Beukes South Africa 7h 06m 28s
5th Diana Terreblanche South Africa 7h 07m 24s
6th Debbie Menton South Africa 7h 11m 49s
7th Desiree Botha South Africa 7h 12m 21s
8th Marie-France Janse van Vuuren South Africa 7h 19m 36s
9th Nokuthula Hlengwa South Africa 7h 21m 22s
10th Denise Dippenaar South Africa 7h 22m 48s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Karin Schaaf (41) South Africa

7h 35m 56s

2nd Celia Barbosa (43) South Africa 7h 51m 21s
3rd Ann Margolin (41) South Africa 8h 09m 53s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Sarah Hackney (52) South Africa

8h 04m 32s New Best Time Down

2nd Debbie Goosen (51) Namibia 8h 24m 24s
3rd Joyce Storm (50) South Africa 9h 13m 24s


1st Daphne Ledlie (60) South Africa

9h 43m 23s New Best Time Down

2nd Marza Cupido (63) South Africa  10h 46m26
1994 Up (69th Race)
Date Tuesday, 31 May
Weather Clear windless day. Fine and mild. 

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 5/23
DBN 11/25
Start Venue/Time Durban Post Office, West Street / 6:00
Finish Venue Jan Smuts Stadium
Time Limit 11 Hours
Official Distance 86.700 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 15.361 km/hr (3m 54s /km)
Women 12.960 km/hr (4m 38s /km)
Entries 12706
Starters 12130
Finishers – Total 10269
Men 9189
Women 1080
Medals – Gold 13
Silver 762
Bronze 9494
% Finishers / Starters 84.7


It is a foolhardy strategy to try and win from start to finish.

Wally Hayward did in the 1930 Up Run… so did Jackie Mekler in 1964 (Up)… but they were something special. Mick Orton tried it in 1973, on the Down Run, and came disastrously short. It was a proven strategy for failure.

Great excitement was generated when a surprise entry was received from the USA. Alberto Salazar was coming to run the Comrades Marathon.

Salazar was the undisputed king of the standard marathon, for a short spell, during the early years of the 80s. He had won New York 3 years in succession (1980, 81 and 82) as well as Boston in 1982. All were sub-2h 10m.

When he stood at the start in Durban, he had never run beyond 42 kilometres. Also at the start was defending champion, Charly Doll and a host of local talent that was well prepared to lead the field home. None of Theo Rafiri, Thompson Magawana, Charl Mattheus, Mohala Mohholi and former winners, Jetman Msuthu and Nick Bester, could be ignored in pre-race selections.

Salazar was never far from the leaders, even in the mad dash up Berea Road by the TV specialists. He tracked them out of Durban, through Westville, and up Cowie’s Hill where mountain specialist, Dirkie Moolman, moved into prominence. With Field’s Hill looming on the distant horison, the pair headed the massive field along the Pinetown Flats, just 21 kilometres into the race. Moolman revealed his climbing ability on the hill and moved ahead of Salazar and passing through Kloof, at the crest, he led by a minute.

From that point, Salazar gradually cut into the deficit and, passing through Hillcrest, got within striking distance. At the foot of Botha’s Hill, he surged to the front… and stayed there.

Such was the pace he was running, he went through Drummond in 24h 44m, a new record for the first half of Comrades. Following him through the midpoint were Moolman (2h 45m), Magawana, Rafiri and Livingstone Jabanga (all 2h 48m), Mattheus (2h 49m), Doll and Mohloli (both 2h 50m) and Bester and Msuthu (both 2h 55m).

Salazar had already run 2 kilometres further than he had ever run before, and he still had the same again, over the second half. The pundits were certain he would fall apart before long.

Rafiri, Mohloli, Magawana and Bester showed signs of challenging for the lead at times without positioning themselves for a really serious attempt to strike. It was Bester and Mohloli who, in the end, provided the only meaningful assaults on the leader. Over the final 10 kilometres, they were, both, clearly faster than Salazar, but the attempt came too late.

Salazar, although losing ground on the run-in, had plenty in reserve to hang in and win by 4m 13s from Bester with Mohloli only 23 seconds further adrift.


1st Alberto Salazar USA

5h 38m 39s

2nd Nick Bester South Africa 5h 42m 52s
3rd Mohala Mohloli Lesotho 5h 43m 15s
4th Peter Camenzind Switzerland 5h 43m 37s
5th Theo Refiri South Africa 5h 44m 52s
6th Charly Doll Germany 5h 52m 51s
7th Jacob Tlhapi South Africa 5h 53m 46s
8th Jetman Msuthu South Africa 5h 54m 27s
9th Denis Gack France 5h 54m 30s
10th Livingstone Jabanga South Africa 5h 54m 53s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Peter Camenzind (42) Switzerland

5h 43m 37s New Best Time Up

2nd Charly Doll (40) Germany 5h 52m 51s
3rd David Mponye (44) South Africa 5h 59m 43s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Danny Shongwe (54) South Africa

6h 50m 51s

2nd John Dixon (54) South Africa 6h 54m 42s
3rd Julius Nkosi (52) South Africa 7h 02m 29s


1st Benjamin Mamabolo (60) South Africa

7h 44m 33s

2nd Vossie Vosloo (60) South Africa 8h 26m 17s
3rd Phillippus Maartens (63) South Africa 8h 55m 43s


South African domination of the race was shortly to end. A new dawn was about to break, which would strangle the race for a decade and a half. Two Russians, Valentina Shatyayeva, Valentina Liakhova and a Hungarian, Martha Vass represented a challenge that local women could not match.

Local hopes were pinned on defending champion, Tilda Tearle, and Frith van der Merwe, staging a comeback to the Comrades Marathon. Tearle was not at the peak of her form and the fitness of van der Merwe was unknown.

van der Merwe went to the front from the start and although she led through Westville, over Cowie’s Hill and long the Pinetown Flats, her smooth, flowing stride was missing. It was clear that she was in trouble. This became apparent when Liakhova went past her on Field’s Hill. She eventually withdrew from the race shortly after passing through Kloof and with it the local challenge was effectively over. The two flying Russians, with Vass not too far behind, were running at a speed that, if maintained, projected a finishing time that was beyond the reach of any of the South Africans.

Tearle was experiencing an unhappy run and, although she finished in the top ten, effectively dropped out of contention. It was Helene Joubert who rose to the challenge. Working her way past those ahead of her, she wrested the lead from Liakhova over the hilly section between Gillitts and Winston Park and headed the Russian through the halfway mark at Drummond. Next through Drummond were Shatyayeva, Vass and Sanet Beukes.

After cresting Inchanga, Joubert struggled valiantly. Her earlier effort was clearly taking its toll. She was losing ground to the chasing Liakhova who went past her on the approach to Cato Ridge. Still, Joubert dug deep, clinging to her 3rd place. It was only on the pull up Polly Shortt’s that she surrendered that position when Shatyayeva and Vass powered past.

With the three visiting women out in front and seemingly out of reach, the sole local woman to mount an effective attack was Sanet Beukes, but the two Russians, with Liakhova dictating matters ahead of Shatyayeva, were never in danger of losing their grip on proceedings. Beukes, however, launched a gallant effort to overhaul a tiring Vass on the dash from the top of Polly Shortt’s. She failed by a minute and 17 seconds


1st Valentina Liakhova Russia 6h 41m 23s
2nd Valentina Shatyayeva Russia 6h 45m 49s
3rd Martha Vass Hungary 6h 51m 04s
4th Sanet Beukes South Africa 6h 51m 43s
5th Helene Joubert South Africa 6h 58m 53s
6th Jowaine Parrott South Africa 7h 09m 14s
7th Debbie Menton South Africa 7h 10m 27s
8th Ina Sanders South Africa 7h 11m 34s
9th Tilda Tearle South Africa 7h 14m 25s
10th Naidene Harrison South Africa 7h 14m 41s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Hilary Walker (40) England

7h 38m 31s

2nd Trudie Radloff (40) South Africa 7h 42m 52s
3rd Cynthia Bauer (43) South Africa 7h 52m 55s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Thea Kruger (51) South Africa

8h 54m 40s

2nd Joyce Storm (51) South Africa 8h 54m 52s
3rd Paddy Williams (53) South Africa 9h 20m 30s
1995 Down (70th Race)
Date Wednesday, 20 May
Weather Cloudless day. Warm to hot.

Temperature – Min/ Max:

PMB 7/29
DBN 14/29
Start Venue/Time Pietermaritzburg City Hall / 6:00
Finish Venue Kingsmead Stadium
Time Limit 11 Hours
Official Distance 90.700 km

Winner’s Average Speed:

Men 16.290 km/hr (3m 41s /km)
Women 14.216 km/hr (4m 13s /km)
Entries 13528
Starters 13128
Finishers – Total 10538
Men 9353
Women 1185
Medals – Gold 15
Silver 740
Bronze 9783
% Finishers / Starters 80.3


The late withdrawal of the entries of defending champion, Alberto Salazar, and 1993 winner, Charly Doll, was a big disappointment. It was, however, somewhat countered by the entries of two formidable Russians, the current world 100-kilometre champion, Alexei Volgin, and former holder of the same title, Konstantin Santalov.

South African hopes rested with the improving Shaun Meiklejohn and the ever-consistent Charl Mattheus. 

The early pace was provided by Aaron Nzimande and Elias Mabane. Both were talented athletes, not in the run-for-your-life-and-then-fade brigade. They paced themselves sensibly and Nzimande led at halfway in 2h 44m with Mabane on his shoulder. Three minutes later, came Mattheus, Meiklejohn and Livingstone Jabanga.

The section to Botha’s Hill saw no change in the lead, but on the stretch between Hillcrest and Kloof, those who would, ultimately, duel for top honours, had positioned themselves for the final shootout. At Winston Park, just beyond Hillcrest, Mabane faltered leaving Nzimande alone in pole position. Behind him, Jabanga’s challenge ran out of steam. He was dropped by Meiklejohn and Mattheus, who soon passed Mabane, and proceeded to close the distance between themselves and Nzimande. Nzimande had no answer when the pair overtook him near the top of Field’s Hill, from where it became apparent that the winner would come from this duo.

A high-speed duel ensued as they, perhaps unwisely, raced each other down the big hill. As they ran onto the Pinetown flats, Meikljohn opened a short gap, but on Cowie’s Hill, Mattheus came back at him and then went into the lead on the descent to Westville. Mattheus was first past 45th Cutting and seemingly had the race under control but Meiklejohn came back strongly as he raced down to Sherwood, and went into the lead on the climb to Tollgate. This time there was no return for Mattheus.

Meiklejohn held on to beat Mattheus by 59 seconds.


1st Shaun Meiklejohn South Africa

5h 34m 02s

2nd Charl Mattheus South Africa 5h 35m 01s
3rd Alexei Volgin Russia 5h 40m 38s
4th Mohala Mohloli Lesotho 5h 41m 30s
5th Gary Turner South Africa 5h 42m 33s
6th Sipho Masango Swaziland 5h 47m 09s
7th Colin Lindeque South Africa 5h 48m 11s
8th Lucas Matlala South Africa 5h 49m 13s
9th Nick Bester South Africa 5h 49m 54s
10th Theo Rafiri South Africa 5h 50m 33s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Cornet Matomane (42) South Africa

6h 02m 28s

2nd Russell Dyer (40) South Africa 6h 11m 43s
3rd Thomas Sigg (40) Switzerland 6h 12m 31s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Danny Shongwe (55) South Africa

6h 58m 42s

2nd Moses Kunene (53) South Africa 7h 07m 59s
3rd Mokwena Morifi (50) South Africa 7h 09m 10s


1st Geoffrey Oliver (62) England

7h 22m 49s New Best Time Down

2nd Caspar Greeff (60) South Africa 7h 26m 11s
3rd Benjamin Mamabolo (61) South Africa 7h 48m 07s


If ever a truly world-class field was assembled for a race, the 1995 Comrades Marathon had it.

The star performer, and surprise entry, was American, Ann Trason, the world 100-kilometre record holder. The only question mark against her was that she had been suffering form a mysterious stomach bug during the week before she arrived in South Africa. Despite that, she was regarded as far superior to any local runner, and any of the talented Russians who were returning for another attempt at the race.

The Russian pair, Valentina Liakhova and Valentina Shatyayeva, as well as Martha Vass of Hungary, the first three from 1994, were back.

What of the local challenge? Sanet Beukes, Helene Joubert and Jowaine Parrot, 4th, 5th and 6th respectively in 1994, were all in top condition and confidant of making the pace, up front, uncomfortable. Also in the mix was Tilda Tearle, the reigning Down champion, as well as former three-times winner, Helen Lucre,.

An unknown factor in the equation was the German, Maria Bak, an experienced ultra campaigner, but untested over the renowned Comrades Hills. She was, realistically, in with only an outside chance.

From the start in a chilly Pietermaritzburg, Trason made her intentions abundantly clear. No respect was shown for the hilly course; a dangerous tactic for a Comrades novice, although, in terms of reputation, she was a class act. Comrades, however, can be a cruel adversary if provoked. She had been troubled by a stomach bug in the days leading up to race day, but by the way she attacked from the start, it seemed that the problem had cleared up.

At Drummond, she was 8 minutes ahead of 2nd placed Bak, and running at such speed that knowledgeable spectators opined that Frith van der Merwe’s sensational 1989 Down Record was in jeopardy. It was not, however, to be her day. The stomach bug returned and struck her down. She struggled on for another kilometre, before Bak overtook her on the climb to the top of Botha’s Hill, before retiring.

Bak was, now, far ahead of Helene Joubert, who was followed a fair distance behind by Shatyayeva. The positions remained changed as the top three approached Kingsmead Stadium in Durban.


1st Maria Bak Germany 6h 22m 45s
2nd Helene Joubert South Africa 6h 34m 04s
3rd Valentina Shatyayeva Russia 6h 42m 21s
4th Sanet Beukes South Africa 6h 57m 28s
5th Valentina Liakhova Russia 6h 57m 57s
6th Denise Dippenaar South Africa 7h 00m 28s
7th Jean Rayner South Africa 7h 03m 22s
8th Tilda Tearle South Africa 7h 04m 21s
9th Lettie Greeff South Africa 7h 12m 35s
10th Rae Bisschoff South Africa 7h 13m 23s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Rae Bisschoff (41) South Africa

7h 13m 23s

2nd Diana Terreblanche (41) South Africa 7h 24m 19s
3rd Astrid Dammerell (42) South Africa 7h 46m 23s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Debbie Goosen (53) Namibia

8h 24m 37s

2nd Marianne Dahl (51) Germany 8h 40m 28s
3rd Hazel Quilliam (50) South Africa 9h 02m 50s