14 JUNE 2020

90KM DOWN RUN

History 1996-1999

RACE RESULTS

1996 Up (71st Race)
 Date Monday, 17 June
 Weather Cool at start with thin cloud layer. A few drops of rain shortly after the start. Chilly breeze for most of the morning. Otherwise cool to mild all day.

 Temperature – Min/ Max:

 
 PMB 2/20
 DBN 9/22
 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 15.786 km/hr (3m 48s /km)
 Women 13.932 km/hr (4m 18s /km)
 Entries 13552
 Starters 13041
 Finishers – Total 11262
 Men 10030
 Women 1232
 Medals – Gold 15
 Silver 903
 Bronze 10344
 % Finishers / Starters 86.4


THE MENS RACE

Entries from a host of foreign-based runners, all ultra distance specialists, indicated that the local stars were going to have to be at the top of their game if they were to fight off the foreign threat.

Russians, Alexei Volgin and Konstantin Santalov were back. The international contingent included another Russian, Mikhail Kokorev, Valmir Nunes, the Brazilian holder of the world 100-kilometre championship, Dmitri Grishin from the Ukraine, Tom Johnson of the USA, Australian Don Wallace, and Chris Parkes from England.

Parkes went off like a startled hare and was joint leader, with Stemmer Lekoto, as they went over the top of Cowie’s Hill and through Pinetown. On the assault of the mighty Field’s Hill, Parkes accelerated as if he were participating in a 1500 metre track race: not a 90-kilometre ultra marathon. He held a big lead and passed the halfway mark in 2h 38m 35s; a time that projected to around 5h 15m for the full distance. The pundits merely shook their heads and waited for his demise.

They were correct.

Following Parkes through Drummond were Lekoto (2h 44m 31s) and Walter Nkosi (2h 45m 23s), but both fell away rapidly soon after. Then followed the group consisting of Volgin, Bester, Mattheus and the novice, Grishin.

Parkes was the first to crest Inchanga, but it was already clear that his race was over. Within 3 kilometres, he was no longer the leader. He had nothing left as the Bester quartet flew past. Grishin appeared to be the most comfortable in this group, looking very strong on the hills and, with Ashburton and Polly Shortt’s looming, it seemed that he might pose severe problems for those around him. On the long downhill to Mpusheni, Volgin fell back and apparently out of contention. Bester and Mattheus, working together, were successful in shaking Grishin off and opened a small gap.

Then Grishin demonstrated his strength as a climber. On Little Polly’s, the pull up to Ashburton, he went past both.

How would he handle the big one; Polly Shortt’s itself? The answer was emphatic; it never bothered him at all and, once over the top, he cruised into the city, breaking the 5h 30m barrier in the process.

It was, nevertheless, a thrilling battle. Bester came back strongly to finish just over a minute behind the winner. With Volgin also putting in a determined surge for the line, less than 3 minutes separated the first three at the finish.

Will there ever be another race comparable to the 1996 Comrades? Thirty-two men dipped below 6 hours… and another 4 clocked in within a further 60 seconds.

RESULT

1st Dmitri Grishin Russia 5h 29m 33s
2nd Nick Bester South Africa 5h 30m 48s
3rd Alexei Volgin Russia 5h 32m 21s
4th Charl Mattheus South Africa 5h 34m 56s
5th Shaun Meiklejohn South Africa 5h 39m 20s
6th Gary Turner South Africa 5h 40m 52s
7th Tom Johnson USA 5h 41m 57s
8th Mikhail Kokorev Russia 5h 42m 10s
9th Moses Lebakeng South Africa 5h 43m 27s
10th Donovan Wright South Africa 5h 45m 55s

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Markus Engeler (41) Switzerland 5h 59m 01s
2nd Boysie van Staden (41) South Africa 6h 03m 02s
3rd Johan Ebersohn (44) South Africa 6h 09m 20s


MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Moses Kunene (54) South Africa

7h 00m 12s

2nd Jacinto De Faria (51) South Africa 7h 06m 59s
3rd Arthur Brindley (50) South Africa 7h 16m 54s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Carel van Wyk (60) South Africa

7h 06m 41s New Best Time Up

2nd Benjamin Mamabolo (62) South Africa 7h 57m 33s
3rd Caspar Greeff (61) South Africa 8h 07m 16s
 

THE WOMENS RACE

Ann Trason was back again; this time in perfect health. After her disappointment in 1995, when a stomach bug destroyed her hopes when poised to threaten Frith van der Merwe’s Down Record, she was determined to make amends.

Englishwoman, Caroline Hunter-Rowe, a former world 100-kilometre champion was expected to produce fierce competition, in the closing stages, when the real race began. Home favourite, Frith van der Merwe, led the South African contingent but she was considered a few years past her peak. Nearly all the regular Gold Medallists were at the start in Durban. It promised to be one of the great women’s races.

It wasn’t. From the outset, it was a rout. Trason was a class apart. She led from the start and simply ran further away from her opposition as the race progressed. En route to an emphatic victory, she set a new Best Time for the first half of the race, reaching Drummond in 3h 03m. Passing Drummond in 3h 8m, Maria Bak was a further 5 minutes ahead of 3rd placed Jowaine Parrott.

Over the testing second half of the course, Trason showed no signs of weakness. Spectators reasoned that, never having seen Polly Shortt’s before, the monster would catch her out. They were wrong again. She took it in her stride; never revealing the slightest evidence of faltering.

Racing down to the finish in Jan Smuts Stadium, a new Best Time was a foregone conclusion. She crossed the line in 6h 13m 23s, slashing more that 19-and-a-half minutes off van der Merwe’s record.

The overall standard of the race was such that 2nd placed Bak was also inside the previous mark and, on top of that, seven women went under 7 hours. In all, 23 women beat 7h 30m to earn Silver Medals, yet not too many years before, someone said that a woman will “never run 90 kays in under seven-and-a-half hours”.    

RESULT

1st Ann Trason * USA

6h 13m 23s New Best Time Up

2nd Maria Bak Germany 6h 24m 08s
3rd Valentina Shatyayeva Russia 6h 30m 33s
4th Jowaine Parrott South Africa 6h 55m 19s
5th Berna Daly South Africa 6h 56m 33s
6th Carolyn Hunter-Rowe England 6h 57m 59s
7th Valentina Liakhova Russia 6h 59m 44s
8th Sanet Beukes South Africa 7h 05m 57s
9th Reneé Scott South Africa 7h 07m 26s
10th Nurziya Bagmanova Russia 7h 09m 06s

* First Sub-6:15 Up Run

VETERANS (AGE 40 – 49)

1st Sanet Beukes (40) South Africa 7h 05m 57s
2nd Nancy Will (44) South Africa 7h 12m 34s
3rd Frances van Blerk (41) South Africa 7h 21m 14s

MASTERS (AGE 50 - 59)

1st Debbie Goosen (54) Namibia

8h 17m 42s New Best Time Up

2nd Yvonne Lariviere (50) South Africa 8h 33m 20s
3rd Ros Young (52) England 9h 17m 41s

GRANDMASTERS (AGE 60 +)

1st Hazel Colborne (60) South Africa

10h 23m 38 New Best Time Up

1997 Down (72nd Race)
1998 Up (73rd Race)
1999 Down (74th Race)

1921 BILL ROWAN

1923 ARTHUR NEWTON

1930 WALLY HAYWARD

1931 PHIL MASTERSTON-SMITH

1933 HARDY BALLINGTON

1933 MAX TRIM-BOURNEN

1952 TREVOR ALLEN

19353 WALLY HAYWARD

19358 JACKIE MECKLER

1975 ELIZABETH CAVANAUGH

1975 VINCENT RAKABAELE

1979 ALAN ROBB

1983 BRUCE FORDYCE

1984 LINDSAY WEIGHT

1989 FRITH VAN DER MERWE

1989 SAMUEL TSHABALALA

2013 ELENA NURGALIVEA

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