Comrades legend Alexander dies

2013-10-30 00:00

THE Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) lost honorary life member, past race organiser and official historian last week with the death of Morris Alexander.

Alexander (94) had recently returned from travels to Thailand when he died peacefully on Wednesday in the Oasis Retirement Resort in Century City in Cape Town, where he lived with his wife Huibrecht.

Apart from seven finishes out of 10 runs, Alexander won three gold medals for placing fourth, fifth and sixth between 1939 and 1952. This would have been more had it not been for the war years, which saw four events cancelled.

Alexander was passionate about the Comrades and led the organising team from 1950 to 1956, during which time the race date moved from Empire day, May 24, to the Queen’s birthday on July 14.

In 1960 Alexander produced the first of three editions of The Comrades Marathon Story. This work is universally acclaimed as a definitive and passionate history of the race and had its final update published in 1985.

In 1990 he became the first living person to be awarded honorary life membership of the Comrades Marathon Association.

Outside his dedication and love of Comrades, the 94-year-old had a passion for travel and adventure, particularly by sea. He sailed on five troop ships during World War 2 and took 30 other long sea journeys on mail and cruise ships including the Astor, the Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Queen Mary 2.

Alexander also climbed the Great Pyramid of Giza, flew on Concorde and was a guinea pig in the first airsickness detection tests while training as a navigator in the air force in World War 2.

In all Alexander, who spent 47 years working for the Standard Bank, travelled to 83 countries.

He had two daughters, Merle and Frances, and a son, Keith, who died a decade ago.

• The CMA will hold their annual general meeting and elections for the new board tonight at 6.30 pm at Comrades House in Pietermaritzburg.

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