Wally Hayward

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Wally Hayward
Medal record
Men's Athletics
Representing  South Africa
British Empire Games
Bronze medal – third place 1938 Sydney 6 miles

Wallace ("Wally") Henry Hayward (10 July 1908 – 28 April 2006) was a South African endurance athlete with a 60-year career. He has won the Comrades Marathon five times and completed the distance of around 90 km the last time just before his eighty-first birthday.

He was born and died in Durban, South Africa. He died in 2006 just a few days before the annual Wally Hayward Marathon.

Comrades Marathon[edit]

He won the race for the first time on his first attempt in 1930 at age 21. Only twenty years later he competed again and won it from 1950 to 1954, except for 1952 when he chose to rather represent South Africa at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki.[1] He finished tenth in the Olympic marathon event.

In 1951 and 1953 (first athlete under 6 hours) he broke the down-run record, and in 1954 he broke the up-run record and became the oldest man to win the race at age 45 (later overtaken by Vladimir Kotov in 2004).

In 1988 he returned once again to participate. He beat half the finishers with a time of 9h44m. Wally's most dramatic moment came the following year, in 1989, when he completed the down run at the age of 80. There was hardly a dry eye in the stadium as he staggered across the line in an obviously distressed state, making the cut-off time by a mere 1min 57sec, after which he finally quit the race for good. To this day, he has the distinction in the record books of being the oldest finisher in the history of the Comrades Marathon.[2]

Other achievements[edit]

In 1953 he established records in the London to Brighton Marathon, the Bath to London 100-miler and the 24-hour track race.[2]

At the 1938 Empire Games in Sydney he won the bronze medal in the 6 miles competition. In the 3 miles contest he finished fourth.

Hayward fought in North Africa and Italy during World War II and in 1942 earned the British Empire Medal for bravery for his actions near El Alamein in Egypt.[3]


Married Gladys Catto in December 1934 and had one daughter, Gwenolyn in October 1935. In 1957 Wally and Gladys divorced. In 1971 Wally married his second wife, Bertha Bland.


In 1953 he accepted a small donation towards his traveling while competing in Britain. The South African Athletics and Cycling Association declared him a professional, banning him from all amateur events. The ban was finally lifted in 1974.[4]



  1. ^ Brad Morgan: South Africa's Comrades Marathon. In: SouthAfrica.info
  2. ^ a b Brad Morgan: Wally Hayward: going the distance. In: SouthAfrica.info
  3. ^ Wally Hayward & Bill Jamieson: Just Call Me Wally: The Memoirs of Wally Hayward. Penprint, 1999, ISBN 978-0-620-24241-7
  4. ^ eThekwini Online: Famous Durbanites - Sports - Wallace "Wally" Hayward