Bruce Fordyce

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Bruce Fordyce
Personal information
Nationality South African
Born (1955-12-03) 3 December 1955 (age 62)
Hong Kong
Alma mater University of the Witwatersrand

Bruce Fordyce (born 3 December 1955 in Hong Kong) is a South African marathon and ultramarathon athlete. He is best known for having won the South African Comrades Marathon a record nine times, of which eight wins were consecutive. He also won the London to Brighton Marathon three years in a row. He is the current world record holder over 50 miles and the former world record holder over 100 km.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Hong Kong, Fordyce moved with his family to Johannesburg when he was 13 years old.[1] He completed his school career at Woodmead High School and subsequently attended the University of the Witwatersrand,[1] where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1977 and his Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in 1979. During this time he was also a member of the university’s Student Representative Council as well as a committee member of the Wits Athletic Club.

Comrades Marathon[edit]

In 1977, when Fordyce first ran the Comrades Marathon, he placed 43rd out of 1,678 entries. He placed 14th in 1978, 3rd in 1979, 2nd in 1980,[2] and was the winner for an unprecedented eight consecutive years from 1981 to 1988; he won it again in 1990.[1] No other runner in the history of the Comrades has achieved this feat. Fordyce also held the record time for the "up" run (Durban to Pietermaritzburg) and his record of 5:24:07 for the "down" run (Pietermaritzburg to Durban) stood for 21 years from 1986 until it was broken in 2007 by Russia's Leonid Shvetsov.

Bruce Fordyce's Comrades Marathon Results
Year Position Time Direction
1977 43 06:45:00 Up
1978 14 06:11:00 Down
1979 3 05:51:15 Up
1980 2 05:40:31 Down
1981 1 05:37:28 Up
1982 1 05:34:22 Down
1983 1 05:30:12 Up
1984 1 05:27:18 Down
1985 1 05:37:01 Up
1986 1 05:24:07 Down
1987 1 05:37:01 Up
1988 1 05:27:42 Up
1990 1 05:40:25 Up
1991 328 06:57:02 Down
1994 19 06:01:54 Up
1995 2232 08:42:48 Down
1996 329 06:59:30 Up
2000 2691 08:41:11 Up
2001 2790 08:50:52 Down
2002 4252 09:48:46 Up
2003 2784 08:53:12 Down
2004 3088 09:26:02 Up
2005 2311 08:45:20 Down
2006 3596 09:41:11 Up
2007 3861 09:48:18 Down
2008 3710 10:07:33 Up
2009 3818 09:48:21 Down
2010 965 07:55:03 Down
2011 488 07:30:31 Up
2012 1099 08:06:10 Down

He has thus completed 30 Comrades Marathons,[1] including the remarkable result of posting identical times in 1985 and 1987. In 2011 he aimed for a silver medal, but missed this by 31 seconds (finishing time of 7 hours 30 minutes 31 seconds).

London to Brighton Marathon[edit]

Fordyce won the London to Brighton ultramarathon 3 years running from 1981 to 1983.[3][4]

World record holder[edit]

Fordyce is the current world record holder over 50 miles — a record set during the 1983 London to Brighton ultramarathon — and he also holds the 50-mile record for the United States All Comers Race. He is the former world record holder over 100 km (set in 1989, the year he skipped the Comrades Marathon).[2]

Political activism[edit]

On his first victory race in 1981, Fordyce wore a black armband to protest the 20th anniversary celebrations of the apartheid republic[3] attracting boos and even some rotten tomatoes thrown by a fellow runner. Fordyce has claimed this protest as "one of the proudest moments in my life".[2] It was joked that "he put the word 'comrade' back into the Comrades Marathon."

Books, journalism and motivational speaker[edit]

In addition to having written two books about the Comrades Marathon, Fordyce was also a sports columnist for various newspapers and magazines, and a SABC television commentator for the 2014 event. He is also a motivational speaker and the Chief Executive Officer of the South African Sports Trust.

Fordyce also introduced the parkrun running events to South Africa.[5] This is a collection of free-entry weekly 5k run events. There are now 158 parkrun events in South Africa as of 1 September 2018.[6]

Other honours[edit]

In 2004, he was voted 64th in the Top 100 Great South Africans.

In 2007, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of the Witwatersrand.


  1. ^ a b c d Munien, Mallory (1 June 2017). "Bruce Fordyce is inspiring a new generation of running enthusiasts". Daily News. Retrieved 24 June 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c Bloomfield, Mark (2005). "UltraRunning Interview: Comrades Champion Bruce Fordyce". UltraRunning. 
  3. ^ a b "Bruce Fordyce to Receive Honorary Degree from Wits University, his Alma Mater". University of the Witwatersrand. 20 November 2007. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Morgan, Brad (February 2010). "Bruce Fordyce: Comrades King". 
  5. ^ Parkrun takes off in South Africa
  6. ^ "Parkrun South Africa". Parkrun. Retrieved 3 September 2018. 

External links[edit]