The Recognition Minute
Comrades of South Africa who won The Medal July 13 2017, 0 Comments
In 1921, Bill Rowan, the first Comrades winner, crossed the finish line in Eight Hours and Fifty-Nine Minutes. He was one of 16 runners to finish the race and went on to represent South Africa at the 1924 Paris Olympics. A piece of history was carved into the records on that 24th of May, an event commemorated each year to this day.
Until 1962, the winner’s medal was awarded to South Africans mostly. Between ’62 and ’72, three Brits took the first gold medal, all finishing in under six hours. In 1965, a lady crossed the finish line in top position for the first time – her time: 10:07. That was Mavis Hutchinson.
Familiar names such as veteran Wally Hayward, Allan Rob and of course, Bruce Fordyce have been inscribed in the history books as winners and legends of this ultra-marathon. Eight successive wins for Fordyce from ’81 – ’88 set an exceptionally challenging record for the future, which is not likely to be beaten any time soon. His finish times remained reasonably consistent throughout with race no. 8 being close to his personal best, a remarkable achievement.
In 1989, Samuel Tshabalala took first place among the men and Frith van der Merwe received her gold medal in 5:54 on the down run; her second Comrades win and an improvement of 38 minutes over the previous year which was an up run. Tshabalala was the first Black South African contender to win Comrades.
There are many names not mentioned here who have helped place South Africa first in the medal and trophy stakes. Names such as Moshiywa, Mamabolo, and Ngomane come to mind. Among the ladies, let’s not forget Maureen Holland, Lindsay Weight, Caroline Wostman and Charne Bosman.
In 2014, Bongamusa Mthembu wins his first Comrades in 5:28:34. In his own words, it took him eight years to win. He started as a brick layer and ran to keep healthy. Latest achievements include gold medal status in six marathons since 2012 and of course, his latest victory, a gold medal for his win in 2017.
Gold Medals and Trophies are for the few but what would the Comrades Marathon be without the thousands who support and cheer and hand out water and energy bars as the winners run by. And who are the winners? Those who put in the hours of training before the great race; those who finish before the gun and those who tried but missed their award, who pick themselves up and try again.
Prestige Awards salutes all our South African Comrades.
For athletics medals with a South African flavour (athletics image with SA Flag colours ribbon), see: https://www.prestigeawards.co.za/collections/medals/products/athletics-medal and the new Mzanzi medal: https://www.prestigeawards.co.za/products/multipurpose-mzanzi-medal-40