By Bruce Fordyce
20 years ago the universities were a breeding ground for road running talent now the students seem to have vanished. The gold and blue of Wits university has disappeared and along with it the blue of UCT, the purple of Rhodes, the green and blue of Natal, and the maroon of the Maties.
It seems a pity because the Comrades, for instance, boasts some student winners. I won four times in Wits colours and was very proud to do so. Dave Levick won in UCT colours as did Isavel Roche-Kelly, and Lindsay Weight won for Natal. The N.U.A.C. trophy was a trophy awarded at the Comrades prize giving to the best university team, and winning it was a serious matter for students. I wonder if the C.M.A. is aware of its existence. I shudder to think that it is probably gathering dust at the back of a trophy cabinet somewhere or acting as a vase for a bunch of flowers on some shelf.
But it isn’t just about the winners. Varsity teams dominated many road and cross-country races. It mattered to students to add “athletic team” to their C.V.s.
At my first Comrades, in 1977, the starting procedure included the Wits war cry bellowed loudly before Max Trimborn’s cockerel crow. It was a very raucous war cry because there were 75 of us running!
Now if I see blue and yellow/gold colours on the road I know they are the colours of Nelspruit athletic club, not Wits University.
Why have the students vanished? Perhaps road running is no longer seen as being “ cool”. Perhaps other sports like basketball, and water polo have replaced running as the in thing to do.
Perhaps we have lazier, fatter students?
Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions about how to bring the youngsters back.