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Home >> History >> 1980's


Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon History | 1980's

Gail Ingram of Varsity Kudus beat Di Alperstein's record by over 8 and a half minutes by finishing in 4:14:05.

In his first attempt at the 56km ultra, Johnny Halberstadt destroyed all opposition, winning by a margin of nearly four minutes and setting a new race record that would not be broken until 1987. His 1981 winning time of 3 hours 5 minutes 37 seconds is still the third fastest in history, and has only ever been bettered by Thompson Magawana (who did it twice). Gail Ingram won the women's race for the second consecutive year.

Beverley Malan was the first woman to break the 4-hour barrier and earn a silver medal in a time of 3:59:08.

Siphiwe Gqele finished the race in 3:11:54, with Warwick Ewers just behind him in 3:11:58, the closest finish in the history of the race.

A new record number of entrants, 3 770 runners, entered for the 1984 Two Oceans Marathon. The oldest entrant was 75-year-old Liege Boulle, who finished comfortably in 5:42:47.

Siphiwe Gqele, a miner from Bracken Athletic Club, became the first Two Oceans entrant to win the race three times (1983, 1984 and 1985). What made this achievement even more remarkable was his consistency: his finish times for the 3 races were 3:11:54 (1983), 3:10:57 (1984) and 3:11:57 (1985). Siphiwe was the first runner who took only three years to gain a permanent number. Beverley Malan also scored a hat trick and became the first woman to be awarded a permanent number for winning the race three times (1982, 1983 and 1985). Marie Jeanne Duyvejonk rounded off the day when she was the first woman to earn a permanent number by completing ten Two Oceans marathons.

A slow race saw Thulani Sibisi winning in a time of 3 hours 9 minutes 30 seconds. Mark Page, who famously duelled with (and lost to) Bruce Fordyce during two Comrades Marathons, achieved his best Two Oceans placing, finishing second. Three-time winner Beverley Malan ran her best time ever but still only managed third place in the women's race.

Thompson Magawana bettered Johnny Halberstadt's course record by 6 seconds and won the race on his first attempt. Thulani Sibisi, winner in 1986, finished second.

On 2 April 1988, Thompson Magawana broke two world records and established a course record for the Two Oceans that has yet to be equalled or bettered. In doing so, he not only improved on his 1987 winning time by 1 minute 47 seconds, but also bettered the world best times for the 30 mile and 50km distances. Thompson's record of 3:03:44 still stands. His achievement is all the more remarkable because it is possible that even then he was already infected with a virus that would eventually lead to his early death in 1995.

In 1989, Frith van der Merwe astonished everyone by breaking Monica Drögemöller's course record of 3:44:29 by 13 minutes and 53 seconds and finishing 22nd overall (thereby beating Johnny Halberstadt). Frith's winning time of 3:30:36 was established on a day when more than 2 000 runners failed to complete the race because of the extreme heat.

Frith went on to win the Comrades Marathon later that year in a time of 5:54:43. She finished 15th overall and set a course record that has yet to be equalled. Frith is the only woman who has won the Two Oceans and the Comrades in the same year. PJ Sullivan, the only runner who had run all the Two Oceans marathons, was awarded the double laurel permanent number for successfully completing his 20th Two Oceans.