It is the Comrades marathon in South Africa on Sunday so I decided to write a bit about my running hero, the Comrades King, Bruce Fordyce. Yes, I’m not a kid anymore, but I still have heroes and with running my hero is Bruce. I often quote him in posts or comments so I thought those who don’t know who I’m talking about will benefit from this.
Bruce Fordyce is seen by some as the greatest ultra runner of all time and if you look at the times he was running in the 1980’s it still compares with the best of today. That he was in a class of his own is no question.
Bruce Fordyce winning the 1986 Comrades marathon.
He is most known for his 9 wins in the Comrades marathon, the greatest ultra in the world. However, he didn’t race only the Comrades. He won the London to Brighton race 3 times and set the world record for 50 miles (04:50:21) in 1983 during the race. He also held the world’s second fastest time (04:50:51) that he set in the 1984 AMJA US 50 mile championship in Chicago. In 1989, the year he skipped Comrades to run the world 100km championship, he set a world record for 100km on the road by winning in 06:25. He also, almost obviously, held both the up and down records for the Comrades. The down record stood for 21 years which gives you an idea of how good he was.
Bruce Fordyce with his sister during the 1983 London to Brighton.
Bruce in the 1984 AMJA 50 Mile Championship in Chicago.
Another statistic that not many know about is Bruce’s best time for the mile. That is the mile on an athletics track. The Comrades Mile was run in the 1980’s with about 20 top Comrades runners taking part. Bruce showed his class here and won in 03:58! His best marathon time is 02:18.
The first time I saw Bruce Fordyce in person was in 1983, my 1st year next to the Comrades route on race day. His easy running style was remarkable and I became a forever Bruce Fordyce fan that day. He is a remarkable person with a natural ability to captivate an audience.
Nowadays Fordyce is often seen at endurance events participating to raise money for Charity. He has written a book, “The Marathon Runner’s Handbook”, and had a book written about him, John Cameron-Dow’s “Bruce Fordyce: Comrades King”. He is a highly sought after motivational speaker and is also the CEO of the South African Sports Trust.
Bruce finishing the 2010 London marathon in 03:20.
Bruce is 54 years old now and will run his 28th Comrades on Sunday. He remains my running hero.