At 74 years old, Calie Beneke has a history that will take some beating

2011-05-23 00:00

CALIE Beneke — at 74 this runner just keeps going, and at speed!

He doesn’t have any gold medals, he doesn’t have the most runs to his name — although 34 puts him in among the top 25 finishers — but runner 900 has a history in Comrades that will take some beating.

His first run was in the colours of the original organising club, Collegians Harriers, in 1967. That was the year Manie Khun sprinted past a cramping Tommy Malone for the closest finish in Comrades history, and Beneke crossed the line in eight hours, 12 minutes and 52 seconds.

Although it took him four years to return to the infamous route, this would remain his slowest time until at the age of 57 — he ran 8:29:24 in 1994 for his 21st medal with two bronze.

His last run in Collegian Harriers colours in 1980 delivered his fastest time of six hours and four minutes for 17th position overall before moving up country, where he was recruited to Germiston Callies.

At the age of 60, Beneke recorded his slowest time of nine hours, 22 minutes and 28 seconds. Re-inspired and now running for Kempton Park, Beneke notched up a 7:58:14 in 1998, but his coup came in 2003 at 66 when he ran 7:23:32 for 564th position overall — for a silver medal and being the first 60-year-old in.

Impressive stuff for sure, but don’t think it ends there. Last year, at a tender 73 years of age and with the experience of 33 runs behind him, Calie knocked out eight hours, 50 minutes 57 seconds for a Bill Rowan medal.

It may have been 45 years since his first outing but with 20 silver, six Bill Rowans, eight bronze, and only three DNFs, it would take a brave man to gamble against race number 900 failing to extend his record in the Up-Run of the 86th Comrades.

With 74 summers behind him, Calie Beneke is surely the man most likely to be able to challenge the great Wally Hayward’s time at the age of 79.


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