Cape Town - He claimed his first victory in the 41st Comrades Marathon back in 1966, but it was in 1967 that the world witnessed probably the most dramatic and agonising Comrades Marathon finish when Manie Kuhn beat him to the finish line after he stumbled.
Tommy Malone will long be remembered as a humble and gracious Comrades winner, runner-up, mentor and friend to The Ultimate Human Race. He passed away in the early hours of Thursday morning at the age of 81.
Malone’s Comrades running career spanned 10 years, with him winning his first Comrades Marathon in 1966 and going on to achieve his personal best of 5:54:11 the following year.
With two gold and eight silver medals, and thereby achieving his Green No 62, Malone spread the love for Comrades and will be revered as one of the race’s grandest ambassadors. He ran for Germiston Callies Harriers until joining Boksburg Athletic Club in 1976.
Malone was further honoured in 2002 with the coveted Spirit of Comrades award, along with 1967 Comrades winner, Kuhn. The Comrades Marathon Association also awarded him his Comrades Marathon Winners Jacket retrospectively in 2016.
CMA chairperson, Cheryl Winn said, “We are saddened by news of Tommy’s passing. He was always positive, kind and easy going with a huge knowledge and passionate love for the Comrades Marathon. He was probably the one and only person to have predicted both Sam Tshabalala's historic win in 1989 as well as Frith van der Merwe's sub-6 hour record-breaking performance.”
Winn added, “Few people will ever forget the hugely memorable Comrades 1967 moment when Tommy stumbled just before the finish line, and Manie Kuhn claimed that victory. Our thoughts go out to his family, especially his only daughter Amanda, and his many friends. Tommy was a true Comrades ambassador, legend and champion. We will miss him greatly.”
CMA Race Director, Rowyn James said, “He was an incredible ambassador of the race right until the end and I frequently corresponded or chatted with Tommy about race-related matters and will always recall his wise words of wisdom, suggestions and support that he readily shared with me but above all his wicked sense of humour will be missed but remembered”.
Former CMA chairperson, Peter Proctor said, “Tommy was a true gentleman and an absolute Comrades stalwart. He was one of the CMA’s effervescent greats who gave his all to Comrades. Few people I know have had so many friends in the Comrades world. I remember personally escorting him to the finish line to fire off the cut-off gun in 2016 which was a memorable moment indeed. We will miss him dearly and his absence on Comrades race day will be felt for a long time.”
CMA Museum Curator, Roxanne Thomas said, “This is such sad news. I feel like the Comrades has lost a small piece of its history. He will be missed at the Green Number Club.”