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Home >> History >> 1990's


Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon History | 1990's

In 1990, Professor Kevin Rochford approached the Two Oceans Committee with a proposal for a special Friday run, in order to accommodate those runners whose religious beliefs prevented them from running on a Saturday. Kevin, who finished 17th in 1975, was unable to run the race for 15 years because he had a special dispensation to observe the 'Saturday Sabbath'. The committee granted his request, which was the start of a new tradition. On Friday 13 April 1990, committee members Chet Sainsbury, Chris Goldschmidt and 19 other runners (including Kevin) lined up for the first Friday run – everyone managed to complete the race within the 6 hour cut-off time.

The 22nd Two Oceans Marathon 56km Ultra attracted 9227 entrants. Rondebosch Boys’ High School made the school premises available to accommodate underprivileged runners. This was the start of a new tradition and many other schools have offered their premises in the years that followed.

The runners that lined up for the start on Saturday 18 April 1992 knew from the start that they were in for difficult conditions. Three cold fronts had hit Cape Town the day before and a fourth was predicted for race day. Just after Fish Hoek, the runners had to fight a strong head wind and shortly after 10h30 heavy rains started falling. All but the front-runners had to contend with freezing temperatures and low visibility. Israel Morake won the race that year 3:15:56. Monica Drögemöller, a popular local favourite, won the women's race by crossing the line in 3:49:16. She is the only runner to date who has won the Two Oceans four times.

Renette Bloem (29) and Dirk Fourie (64), who are both blind, showed the other runners that no handicap is so large that it cannot be overcome. Well-known local runner Robbie Dallas-Orr piloted Renette, a counselling psychologist from Stellenbosch. Brigid Taylor (27) became the youngest woman to earn a permanent number, when she completed her 10th Two Oceans Marathon.

There was consternation the day before the race when the organisers learned that a train carrying 500 entrants had broken down at Beaufort West. After many frantic phone calls to the railway authorities, the organisers received the happy news that the runners would arrive in time to register for the race.

Four athletes from Europe finished in the top 5 of the women's race, and a Polish runner came second in the men's race. Simon Malindi won the race at his first attempt in a time of 3 hours 10 minutes 53 seconds.

Bob Haselum of Rand Athletic Club broke the magical four-hour barrier to earn the coveted silver medal. His time was 3:58:30 and this record still stands today. Zithulele Sinqe won the men's race and Maria Bak from Germany was the first woman home; she completed five more Two Oceans marathons after 1996 and finished in the top 10 every time without recording another win.

Zithulele Sinqe's second consecutive win was also the fourth fastest time in history – only Thompson Magawana (twice) and Johnny Halberstadt had run faster. Angelina Sephooa was the women's winner; she would go on to win the race in the following two years as well.

In 1998, the race moved to a new venue. Runners started in Main Road Newlands and finished on the University of Cape Town's rugby fields. This change was necessitated by the major building alterations at Brookside. The previous cut-off time of 6 hours was extended to 6 hours 30 minutes and a new Blue Medal was introduced to cater for these runners. Another important break with tradition was to increase the previous qualifying time from 4 hours 15 minutes to 4 hours 30 minutes. 1998 also saw the introduction of the first Two Oceans Half Marathon, which attracted 3593 entrants that first year. Of these, 2942 managed to complete the race within the 2 hour 30 mins cut-off. Ziyaad Dhansay, who is physically handicapped, crossed the line in 3:31:26. His achievement was greeted with rousing applause from the spectators and runners.

Angelina Sephooa emulated Siphiwe Gqele's feat (in 1983, 1984 and 1985) and won the women's race for the third time in three attempts, thus achieving a permanent blue number in the shortest possible time.