Athletics

Outpouring of grief at the death of Comrades No 1 holder, Clive Crawley

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From left to right: Kenny Craig, Clive Crawley, Louis Massyn and Alan Robb (Supplied)
From left to right: Kenny Craig, Clive Crawley, Louis Massyn and Alan Robb (Supplied)

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has expressed its sadness at the news of the death of Clive Crawley.

He was 89.

Crawley was the holder of Comrades Race No 1 since taking on his very first Comrades Marathon in 1957, having been a member of Savages Athletic Club for just about his entire running career.

Crawley was the first runner to have earned quadruple green number status in the 1998 Comrades Marathon in a time of 8:36:22, followed shortly thereafter by his friend and fellow team-mate Kenny Craig in a time of 10:15:46.

Crawley went on to successfully complete 42 Comrades Marathons, with 2 gold, 21 silver and 19 bronze medals, with his gold medals having been achieved in the 1961 and 1965 Comrades Marathons.

His best time, however, of 6:11:19 was achieved in 1971 when he finished in 10th position, during which time gold medals were awarded to only the first 7 positions.

For nearly one and a half decades after retiring from the race in 2000, Crawley was a regular at the green number facility, handing out green numbers to new inductees onto the Green Number Roll of Honour, inspiring runners to even greater heights and continually motivating people to give of their best.

Craig said, “Fellow Comrades Green Number runner, Lolly Thomson, who remains a good friend of Clive’s wife Trish, was the first to hear the sad news. I was the second. From what I hear, it was a very sudden death and it has come as a huge shock to us.”

Craig added, “In my 20’s, I must admit that I never really knew him. He was a bank manager when we first started running together. Then it so happened that in 1963, I needed a bank loan of R200 to buy a house, which was a lot of money back then. He approved it without thinking about it. I was baffled and he then turned to me and said, ‘You are a runner, I can trust you.’ We got to know each other over the ensuing six decades and ran together every Tuesday and Saturday.”

Craig concluded, “Of all the hundreds of athletes I have run with, he was the oldest survivor. I’m glad I spoke to him on his 89th birthday on 30 April. I feel richer for the time spent with Clive, when he lived in Himeville and then in Stellenbosch. It was fun to run with a thorough gentleman and a true legend. When he turned 60 years of age, we ran 60km. On his 70th birthday, we ran 70km. And then when our running days were over, we cycled that many kilometres. Clive lived a life worth living.”

CMA chairperson, Cheryl Winn said, “We are deeply saddened by the news of Clive’s passing. His Quadruple Green Number achievement of 42 Comrades finishes, especially being the first to achieve such a milestone, best time of 6:11:19, and distinct honour of being the holder of Green No 1 for perpetuity, is nothing short of phenomenal. Clive’s impact on the race and the inspiration he held for so many Comrades runners has left a void that few could ever fill.”

Winn added, “Our thoughts and well wishes are with his family, especially his wife Trish, also a proud Green Number runner. We wish you strength during this difficult time and thank both Clive and Trish for their huge contribution to the Comrades Marathon and running in general. For many years Clive served on the old Natal Marathon Runners Association, a forerunner of today’s KZNA and numerously represented KZN over various distances and age categories.”

CMA Race Director, Rowyn James said, “I got to know Clive through his wife Trish during her days as the Sani Stagger organiser and more recently during my tenure here at Comrades Marathon. Clive was always willing and prepared to assist with the handing out of Green Numbers at the finish for which he will be fondly remembered and dearly missed. I always valued being able to tap into and call on the wealth of wisdom, experience and knowledge that Clive possessed. Rest well Clive, on a race well run.”

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