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
Wally Hayward's Memoirs
Comrades 1989 Finish
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 with Wally and Fred Morrison
London to Brighton 1953
Jackie at 2009 Legends Race
Note the Takkies
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
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 with Jackie Mekler
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 recent photo
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