Six Day Circuit Race History

The 1st South African Six Day Circuit Race 15 Dec 2010

A group of interested ultradistance runners were invited to meet at the Zoo Lake clubhouse one evening in March 1994 to discuss the possibility of a 1000km circuit race.
Amongst those present were Hylton Simon, George Archer, Colin Sydney, Eric Wright, Pam Rohald...

It was instead born as a 6 Day race in 1995. The inaugural 1 km circuit was laid out at the Rotek recreation grounds, slightly south of the Johannesburg city centre. The first event started at 10:00 am on a warm and sunny Tuesday morning on 11th April with 15 entrants. Six days later, every one of the fifteen had completed the minimum qualifying distance of 400km . The race was won by Colin Sydney of Amanzimtoti Club with a distance of 777km.

As demand would have it, this was not to be a once-off event as the organisers initially anticipated.. The race started again in 1996 with a larger field of 23 entrants. The 1995 venue was no longer available and after examining more than 20 different venues, the race eventually moved to the new athletics stadium at Ruimsig in Roodepoort, north west of Johannesburg city centre.

Despite the extra undulations at the new venue, every entrant once again completed the minimum distance target of 400km.This time the race was won by Eric Wright (also known as Horse) of Rand Road Warriors with a distance of 802km, beating his second placed 1995 distance of 702km by 100 km.

Ten of the entrants from the 1995 race had entered and completed the 1996 event. This raised the question of issuing permanent numbers. It was decided that a runner would need to complete three events, all with at least the minimum distance, to qualify for a permanent number.

The third running of the 6 Day race in 1997 saw it spawn two extra races, a 24 Hour and a 48 Hour event. The venue remained the same and a field of 25 runners took to the 'road'. The field included 13 novices including one Ashley Wood, an apparently quiet and unassuming runner from Florida Running Club. 8 permanent numbers were issued for having completed 3 races. One runner managed to destroy the proud race record of having all the starters finish the race - he claims to have mixed up the required distance of 403km (250 miles) with 304km because of lack of sleep. The race lacked a major financial sponsor and ran at a loss with the organisers having to make up the shortfall.

The future of the race for 1998 looked bleak because of the lack of funds. Securing sponsorship for a very tough but relatively small race was no easy task. Fortunately, Ashley pulled lots of strings and brought Monument Toyota in Constantia (Gauteng) on board as sponsor for the Six Day race as well as the 24 hour and 48 hour events. Ruimsig athletic stadium was once again the venue for the three races as well as a new race dreamed up in several moments of weakness by two of the organisers in the aftermath of the 1997 race. After all, what could there be to attract runners who had already completed 3 Six Day races? 1000km seemed like a nice round number.

The new race remained just an idea, however, until the chief culprit behind the Kambouris 1000km Challenge, Paul Selby, generously agreed to sponsor the race. The last 24 hours of the 1998 events was very busy with 4 races being run simultaneously. A transponder system was used to detect the runners passing through the counting station under the grandstand. Once again, a full house of entrants completed the Six Day Race and a further 3 permanent numbers were issued.

Unfortunately, the sponsors were unable to renew their financial commitment in 1999 and the races were not held. It seemed as though the first and only South African Six Day race had died. Other forces were at work, however - Ashley and Guy had both completed two races and only needed one more each in order to get a permanent number. Ashley went to work again, this time approaching the Toyota dealership at Imperial Randburg. Presumably unable to resist Ashleys charm and/or persuasion, a Toyota sponsorship was once again secured.
In 2000, it was decided to hold only the Six Day race which saw the biggest field yet to line up on the starting line. The race moved to the Randburg Sports Complex as the fee to hire the Ruimsig stadium had increased tenfold to approx R20000 and the management were unhappy that sections of the tartan track looked liked several armies had marched along them. Each and every one of the 31 starters managed their minimum 403km before the final whistle was blown.

For 2001, Ashley negotiated a new sponsorship deal leading to the new name of the race, The Toyota Dealers Six Day Circuit Race. A group of Toyota dealerships within the northern cell contributed jointly towards the race. A new record field of 42 runners lined up for the start which was again held at the Randburg Sports Complex.

An experimental relay event was added to the individual 6 Day race in 2002.

August 2002 was a sad month as Ashley passed away after completing a half-marathon on a Saturday morning. The show had to go on and the 2003 event was run in memory of Ashley. 34 runners started the race. Elvira Janosi came all the way from Hungary to complete her 3rd race and received permanent number 28. A further 12 numbers were issued for 2003. The 24 Hour race was also resurrected. Derek Reyneke became the holder of the first 24 Hour permanent number, having completed the race in 1997 & 1998 and now in 2003 as well.

During the week before Christmas 2003, another tragedy befell the Six Day family - Benny Buys (perm no. 23) was fatally injured while working underneath a car at his home


It was Joseph "nutcase" Maartens (permanent number 20) who had come up with the idea that you don't just take part in a Six Day event, you join a family.



For the 2004 race to be continued

The organisation for 2005 had a few spokes put out of place because of a clash with an unexpected cricket fixture vying for airspace on the cricket field. Runners and cricket balls aren't a good mix so the race was postponed for a week. This threw out the time arrangements for several entrants, particularly for the 12 and 24 hour races, which would have been held on a Friday which was a public holiday.

It was decided to allow those who couldn't run on the new dates, to start with the 6 Day runners on the first Sunday and run through to Monday morning. A further change allowed late entrants to start at random times during the week which provided an unexpected challenge for the laptiming since some runners saw the opportunity to enter two of the 'anytime' races.

A further glitch quietly wormed its way in on hour 81 when the hard drive which had slowly been storing circuit race data for the last 10 years decided it was full. The only symptom was a slowing down of the system every time a new laptime or end-of-hour summary was to be saved. The resulting error message, together with all other unlikely error messages, had been suppressed on the basis that they were a danger to the system and would never happen anyway. Fortunately, hourly printouts assisted in recovering lapcounting data for the results and statistics.

The other unexpectedly useful recovery innovation was the non-stop video recording taken at the lapcounting station.

The only novice in the field, Susan Hurter from A.S. Eagles, made her debut by finishing 4th overall, winning the ladies section and joining the 350 Mile club

Sunday 11th April 2006 saw 19 entries including 9 novices at the start. Aldo Maranzina, who had previously taken part in 2002 and 2005, had arrived at the venue from Italy with backpack and running kit. Aldo doesn't speak a lot of English and the organisers weren't very fluent in Italian. It was several hours before an interpreter was found. He had apparently not let anybody know that he was arriving...

The trio of Peter Koedyk, Ingrid Solomon and Wynand Beukes arrived on Saturday afternoon, having interupted their 1000 mile drive from Cape Town with a warm-up marathon in Bloemfontein in the morning. Veteran stalwart and original organiser, George Archer, returned for his 6th attack on the race. With him, came daughter-in-law Barbara Timms on her first outing.

Brian Marshall, who had previously taken part as a runner and received permanent number 29 in 2003, was one of three Walkers in the field, the other two being Petro Pieterse (perm. no 31) and newcomer Sol Jacobs in the Grandmaster age category (60-64).

Susan Hurter together with novices Marthie Brits from Chappies and Marcelle Donald made up the other 6 lady participants. Christie Bouwer from Legogate Villagers in Mpumalanga, 5 times finisher Brian Collings from Florida and Frik Du Preez from Boksburg going for a permanent number with his bottle dog joined in.

Theuns Broodryk, also from Boksburg, highlighted a computer hiccup, where he was thought (by the computer) to be a different person to the Theunis Broodryk who had taken part in 2002. All entrants have now been assigned a unique reference number to identify them, regardless of the spelling. Lyle Strydom and Nico Botha completed the field of 19 entrants. (To be continued...)

The race was put on the calendar for 2007, not knowing that the sponsors had withdrawn before the 2006 event took place. It was decided in late January 2007 to cancel the events because the organising costs far exceed the entry fee.
Late February 2007, while driving along the Golden Reef 100 Miler route near the Magaliesburg mountains, a seed was generated in the mind of one organiser from the early days, to be planted in the garden of one other organiser from the early days.
As it happens, these two were the same two who had sat under the grandstand at Ruimsig athletic Stadium 10 years earlier, in the aftermath of the 1997 Six Day Race wondering whereto for 1998..

These two, now in-laws, looked out over a plot of land filled mostly with what estate agents would optimistically refer to as an abundance of indigenous plant life. In reality, this is sturdy long brown grass and reeds which will grow up to 2m in height without any assistance from man. Annually, someone somewhere in the area drops a lighted match and sets the whole valley on fire.
"Could a 1000m track fit in here somewhere for a Six Day Race?" asked the younger of the more senior.
No answer for about 2 weeks

Two weeks later... "We've been thinking about this track and we're going ahead with it for 2008".
"We" was George Archer, daughter Barbara Timms and another son-in-law, Ian Timms

There followed ten months of sweat, blisters, stress, frayed nerves, front end loaders and dried out bank accounts to give birth to the 2008 George Archer 6 Day Circuit Race which started on Sunday 30th March 2008... ... and again in 2009 ... and again in 2010 ... but not in 2011...
To be continued during 2011.... Home