Germiston Callies Harriers

Callies Comrades Winners

There have been 5 Callies members that have won Comrades.
They are Wally Hayward, Jackie Mekler, Mercer Davies, George Claassen and Alan Robb.
In addition Lettie van Zyl also won the women's title three times.
These are their achievements.

Wally Hayward – Comrades Permanent No 2

There were many challenges, achievements and records for Wally over the years but here we are concentrating on his incredible Comrades history.
Wally may only have run seven Comrades but goes down in Comrades history having won five out of five starting in 1930 and spanning 24 years, then amazingly coming back a further 34 years later to create a new age record in 1988 at 79 that left the running fraternity standing in awe.
That run in 1988 Wally referred to as “My greatest day”.
Comrades for Wally concluded in 1989 with his 7th run aged 80; another record and a grand finale to a career spanning 59 years.
In the last 2 runs Wally won the “Founders Trophy” as the oldest competitor; but believe it or not he first won that trophy at the 1954 run at the age of 45!


Wally Hayward in 1950


Comrades 1988


Wally Hayward's Memoirs


Comrades 1989 Finish

Comrades Marathon History Permanent No 2

Run Year Age Time PositionMedal
Down 19302007:27:26 1 Silver
Down 19504006:46:251Gold
Up 19514106:14:081Gold
Down 19534205:52:301Gold
Up 19544306:12:551Gold
Down 19887909:44:155489Bronze
Up 19898010:58:0310408Bronze

Jackie Mekler – Comrades Permanent Number 9

Jackie Mekler made an early start to his Comrades career at the age of 20 coming 7th in his first run.
His first win was achieved in 1958 where he finished 45 minutes ahead of the field.
In 1960 the golden moment belonged to Jackie who became the first man to break through the 6 hour barrier on the up run with a time of 5:56:32.
At that period such a time was considered unachievable. In 1963 he also set a new down record; to hold both up and down records at that time.
Jackie’s 5 wins as well as 5 other top 5 positions over a 16 year span were achieved against very competitive fields proving his worth as a world class runner.
Jackie also held world track records over 30, 40 and 50 miles,


Jackie Mekler in the 50's

Jackie etc

Jackie with Wally and Fred Morrison
London to Brighton 1953

Jackie 2009

Jackie at 2009 Legends Race


Jackie Racing
Note the Takkies

Run Year Age Time PositionMedal
Up 19522007:45:03 7 Silver
Down 19532106:52:595Gold
Up 19582606:26:261Gold
Down 19592706:35:523Gold
Up 19602805:56:321Gold
Up 19623006:04:042Gold
Down 19633105:51:201Gold
Up 19643206:09:541Gold
Down 19653305:56:192Gold
Up 19683606:01:111Gold
Down 19693706:01:303Gold
Up 19855308:23:331588Bronze
Comrades Marathon History Permanent No 9

Alan Robb – Comrades Permanent Number 1704

Alan Robb made his Comrades debut at the age of 20 coming 3rd thus proving to the running fraternity that he was a serious Comrades contender.
Just 2 years later he won his first Comrades. In 1977 he broke the up record in a time of 5:47:00 and the following year he broke the down record with an incredible 5:29:14 thus achieving a hat trick of wins. The 4th win came in the 1980 down run.
Since that first run in 1974 Alan has run an incredible 39 consecutive Comrades that include the record 12 Gold medals as listed below.
Alan is on schedule to run his 40th Comrades Marathon on 2nd June 2013


Alan Robb late 70's


Alan Robb 1982 Finish

Run Year Age Time PositionMedal
Up 19742006:06:45 3Gold
Up 19752106:09:005Gold
Down 19762205:40:431Gold
Up 19772305:47:001Gold
Down 19782405:29:141Gold
Up 19792506:01:125Gold
Down 19802605:51:201Gold
Down 19822805:41:262Gold
Up 19853105:59:269Gold
Down 19863205:41:096Gold
Up 19873305:51:177Gold
Down 19913705:51:498Gold
Comrades Marathon History Permanent No 1704
Gold Medals Only

Mercer Davies – Comrades Permanent Number 121

At the age of 28 Mercer Davies entered the Comrades arena coming 8th overall. The next two runs saw improvements achieving 6th and 3rd positions respectively.
In that third run Mercer made half way in the fastest time yet recorded of 3hr02 but could not maintain the pace to the end.
In the fourth run in 1957 an incredible personal best, over an hour quicker than previous, saw him to victory after a closely fought battle with the previous year’s winner. Mercer completed a further nine Comrades including two more gold and five silver medals runs; achieving a tally of seven top ten positions
and a personal best time of 6hr08 at the age of 40.


Mercer Davies


Mercer Davies with Jackie Mekler

Run Year Age Time PositionMedal
Down 19532807:36:25 8Silver
Down 19553007:04:286Gold
Up 19563107:14:103Gold
Down 19573206:13:551Gold
Up 19623706:47:199Silver
Down 19633806:23:596Gold
Up 19643907:21:3413Silver
Down 19654006:08:444Gold
Up 19664106:59:0311Silver
Down 19674206:48:0417Silver
Up 19755007:25:00179Silver
Down 19765107:50:00294Bronze
Down 19805508:28:001338Bronze
Comrades Marathon History Permanent No 121

George Claassen – Comrades Permanent Number 994

In 1960 George Claassen was third behind a record breaking Jackie Mekler but nonetheless finished third overall and the first veteran in this his novice run.
This was also the fastest novice time ever run for the up run at that stage.
In 1961 Jackie Mekler and Keith Pearce battled it out but both retired with injuries leaving George Claassen and Frikkie Steyn to contend for first and second places.
This was also a closely fought battle but it was to be George’s day taking first place in 6hr 07 two minutes ahead of his rival.
A further eight Comrades were run with George completing his tenth run at the age of sixty.
George is now the oldest living Comrades winner and is the father of Wynand Claassen, the former rugby Springbok captain.


George Claassen


George Claassen recent photo

Run Year Age Time PositionMedal
Up 19604306:37:07 3Gold
Down 19614406:07:071Gold
Up 19685108:38:3593Silver
Down 19695208:59:59257Silver
Up 19705308:39:44201Silver
Down 19715408:49:15403Silver
Up 19725509:15:25429Bronze
Up 19755810:37:001157Bronze
Down 19765909:15:00774Bronze
Up 19776010:14:001253Bronze
Comrades Marathon History Permanent No 994

Lettie van Zyl – Comrades Permanent Number 663

Lettie Van Zyl was one of the women who ran unofficially from 1973, and later secured 3 consecutive wins in 1976,77 and 78.
Lettie was an enthusiastic campaigner for the acceptance of women as official runners and was a great encouragement to others.


Lettie van Zyl 1978 Women's Winner

Gold Medals were not awarded to winners
of the women's race at that time
Position shown is in respect of women only and not overall.
Run Year Age Time PositionMedal
Down19764309:05:00 1Bronze
Up 19774408:58:001Bronze
Down 19784508:25:001Bronze
Up 19794608:32:553Bronze
Down 19804709:20:0014Bronze
Down 19824909:38:1440Bronze
Comrades Marathon History Permanent No 663
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