Road runners heading to UCT to remember road running legend

03 May 2024 | By Stephen Granger
UCT Memorial Race

Neill Hobbs of the race sponsor Hobbs Sinclair presents the Merrilyn Smith trophy to Anel Terblance (2022). Photo – Stephen Granger

03 May 2024 | By Stephen Granger

More than a thousand runners are expected to line up at the start of the annual UCT 10km Memorial Race in the University Middle Campus precinct early Sunday morning.

The race, now in its 41st edition, remembers past member of the UCT Athletics Club who have died and especially celebrates the memories of three outstanding women athletes, Merrilyn Smith, Isavel Roche-Kelly and Lindsay Weight.

Sunday’s race particularly focuses on the extraordinarily talented Roche-Kelly, who won the Comrades Marathon in record time, just 11 months after she started her running career.

Many of the leading athletes in the province are expected to take part in Sunday’s race, drawn the both the challenges of the race’s hilly route through the Middle and Upper Campus and down into Newlands, and to show support for race, aimed at reducing student debt, particularly that linked to UCT athletes, and providing support for academic study to athletes struggling to support themselves at university.

An additional attraction is the substantial prize money on offer, with R5000 at stake for the male and female winners with an additional R5000 and the Merrilyn Smith trophy on offer to the first woman home under 36 minutes.

2022 winner, Anel Terblance, is returning to the competitive fray following childbirth and will again be looking to stand on top of the podium, while Athletes’ Academy athlete, Deon-Lee Hendricks will be equally keen to join her following his win in 2022.

A feature of the event will be the return of many of the past 24 winners over the 42 year history of the event, a number of whom will be flying into Cape Town for the occasion. A number who are living abroad cannot make it but have sent messages of support.

“The UCT memorial run is honestly one of my favorite races,” said 1997 winner, Renee Scott, now living in Boulder, USA. “It does hold a special place in my heart having known so many of the athletes it honours.

I wish I knew how many Merilynn Smith 10k races I have run. I made sure never to miss it when I lived in SA.  Good luck to every runner participating today.”

Pasty Sharples was the first winner of the Merrilyn Smith trophy in 1983. “Thanks for thinking of me and inviting me to the UCT, 10km Memorial Race,” said Sharples, now resident in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“It is a wonderful idea to honor and celebrate the life of Isavel Roche-Kelly at the race.  She was a very talented athlete, but I didn’t know her very well, because I left for the USA in 1980.  Good-luck to all the runners on Sunday as they celebrate the life of Isavel Roche-Kelly.”

Online entries through RacePass close at 17h00 today (Friday 3 May) and runners can enter at the Sweat Shop up to 14h00 tomorrow (Saturday) or 17h00 at the UCT Sports Centre.  Entries will also be taken from 05h30 on race day on Sunday at the Kramer Building, Middle Campus.