The Comrades Marathon Association has conveyed its condolences to the family of Simon Mkhize. The 74 year old was the first Black runner to obtain his Comrades Green Number for running the Comrades Marathon ten times, and going on to achieve Double Green Number status.
Simon was a keen sportsman who inspired many athletes to get into running and especially take on the Comrades Marathon challenge in addition to other sporting codes.
Of his 20 successful Comrades finishes, Simon amassed 12 Bronze and 8 Silver medals. His best time of 6:40 was achieved in the 1971 Comrades. Due to the Comrades Marathon being officially opened up to runners of all races and genders only in 1975, Simon’s Comrades finishes before that year, were all retrospectively awarded to him.
Simon was born on 4 March 1942 near Howick. He was one of 9 children, with five sisters and three brothers. Simon started running when he was 28 years old.
After his first race, he realized that he enjoyed running so much that he couldn’t stop. Simon soon started entering and winning races, and so began his epic athletic career.
From archived news material, we learn that the year Simon had decided to take on the Comrades Marathon, spectators on the side of the road were very pleased to see him and other Black athletes running the race, and cheered them on.
Simon also found out that he liked other sports and soon got into canoeing. He was the first Black person to take part in the Duzi Canoe Marathon. However, Simon didn’t stop there; he also tried mountain-climbing as well as rafting, which became one of his favourite pastimes.
Macdonald Chitja says, “Simon was a pioneer and a leader, who inspired many young people to take up sport. He was passionate about sport and a very gifted sportsman. He pioneered the way for Black participants in the Duzi Canoe Marathon. Even in his later years he always had time to give advice to ordinary runners on how they could improve their running. He will be missed.”
CMA Vice Chairperson, Cheryl Winn says, “I personally did not know Simon, but my husband Mick remembers him as an accomplished athlete and upstanding citizen, entrepreneur, role model and trailblazer for future Comrades Marathon runners. He was one of the first athletes to be awarded medals retrospectively for having completed the Comrades Marathon unofficially prior to 1975 and which were substantiated as official.”
Former CMA Chairperson, Barry Varty says, “It is sad to learn that Simon has reached the 'end of the road', and crossed the finish line for the last time. We remember his disadvantaged years, and his retrospective reward in being recognized for his 'unofficial' Comrades Marathon runs. We don't say goodbye, we say: ‘Carry on Simon, we'll catch you later’.”
CMA International Brand Ambassador for Scotland, Don Mellor reflects on the humble and talented sportsman that Simon was. “I remember Simon as a 'quietly spoken man' who had an enormous running talent. It's no wonder that he went on to achieve such an amazing Comrades record. RIP Simon Mkhize.”
CMA Board Member, Terence Hoskins says, “I had the opportunity of getting to know Simon very well. He always exhibited the fine and noble qualities of a gentlemen, in sport as in life. He was a talented and disciplined individual who inspired many athletes to greatness. He was a great guy and will be greatly missed. My thoughts are with his family and friends.”
CMA Green Number Convener, Eileen Hall says, “I have huge respect for Simon as I knew him from when he ran with my Dad, Ray Karg. He was a very humble, respectful and pleasant runner.”