by Bruce Fordyce
Colin Goosen’s desperate crawl for the 10th and last gold medal in 1983. The Pietermaritzburg crowd screamed and television viewers went hysterical. The newspapers reported that a housewife smashed her TV when she threw her iron at it in frustration. Colin’s crawl was particularly agonising because he twice tried and failed to stand up and then for a few horrific metres crawled the wrong way down the finish straight. He will forever be known as Colin “creepy crawly” Goosen.
As the large leading pack of runners passed the 56km to go board on Harrison Flats in 1982 Alan Robb chirped “we’re on the start line of the Two Oceans gentlemen”. The lead pack crumbled into bits of flotsam and jetsam with discarded bodies clinging to the wreckage as everyone realised the implications of that statement.
Commentating on television on Frith van der Merwe’s amazing 15th place in 1989, Tim Noakes and I ran out of superlatives. Her stunning run was best summed up by Stewart Peacock who finished 12th. Shortly after he entered Kingsmead the crowd of spectators exploded into cheers and screams. Peacock ran the last lap punching the air, waving and blowing kisses to what he believed was an adoring public welcoming him home. Only when he turned to gaze back down the home straight did he see this irritating wisp of a girl in pigtails come skipping along.
Wally Hayward, 1988. The greatest Comrades run ever. Just shy of his 80th birthday, Hayward ran an incredible 9:44:15 beating more than half the field. Few runners consider that he had to run a sub-4:30 qualifying standard marathon just to be able to line up at the start.
25 000 runners in 2000.
The finish at Scottsville at 5:30pm looked like a battlefield.
The honeymoon couple in the double bed at the bottom of Polly Shorts in 1982. They toasted us with French champagne as we ran past. Theirs was a particularly startling gesture as it was freezing cold and drizzling slightly and she was wearing a very skimpy negligee.
Dancing Dave Wright and his cartwheel/Arab spring at the finish of each of his Comrades. I can scarcely hobble at the finish yet his gymnastic display was always worth at least a 9.75 for the Olympic floor exercise.
Rob Taylor weeping on television after finishing his first Comrades. He had expressly promised us he would not. He cried on completing his first Two Oceans but vowed a diet of cowboy novels and John Wayne movies had cured him of his sissy behaviour. I should have been the one crying as Leonid Shvetsov had just broken my down record!
Grant Behrman ran in memory of his father and brother last year. He trained alone through the Connecticut, New England, winter to fulfil his dream. As we listened to Shosholoza and Max Trimborn’s cockerel crow he sank down on one knee to pray briefly. I noticed he had sewn pictures of his late brother and father on the back of his vest.
Always the final gun. It’s so dramatic, so sad and so unforgettable.