Aynslee wins big at UCT Memorial 10km as champions of the past remember Isavel Roche-Kelly

08 May 2024 | By Stephen Granger
UCT 10KM Memorial Race

Participants at prize giving ceremony 

08 May 2024 | By Stephen Granger

Leading South African track, road and cross-country athlete, Aynslee Minnaar, raced to the sixth-fastest winning time in the history of the UCT Memorial 10km on Sunday (5 May), while Stellenbosch-based Athletes Academy athletes dominated the men’s competition, placing four in the top five positions.

A record field of 1509 runners completed the race along the challenging route through the University Campus and around the streets of Newlands and past the Vineyard Hotel, which hosted the refreshment station at the half-way mark.

UCT 10KM Memorial Race
Runners from all corners of Cape Town finishing the UCT Memorial Race on Sunday. Photo – Stephen Granger

UCT’s acting Vice-Chancellor, Prof Linda Ronnie, welcomed all visiting runners to the University Campus, congratulating them on completing the race, held annually in memory of three of UCT’s top athletes, Merrilyn Smith, Isavel Roche-Kelly and Lindsay Weight.

Elana Van Zyl’s 32 min 38sec run in 1995 stands out above the rest on the current hilly UCT 10km course, which has more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie Novel. Van Zyl’s mark was achieved just months after she was crowned World Half Marathon Champion in Norway and it was fitting that Van Zyl was on hand to present the Merrilyn Smith Trophy to Minnaar.

UCT 10KM Memorial Race
Elana van Zyl presents Aynslee Minnaar with the Merrilyn Smith trophy. Photo – Stephen Granger

 Minnaar, currently based in Australia, is visiting her parents in Cape Town and the R5000 incentive she won for running faster than 36 minutes to add to her R5000 first prize will come in handy as she shops for gifts just days before her return ‘Down Under’.

“Racing for South Africa at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia, last year with my sister Kyla was the highlight of my athletics career to date,” Minnaar reflected. “I have struggled with injuries but my hamstring tendinopathy has healed and I’m now returning to fitness.  Today went well and although I ran slowly on the downhills, I felt fine.”

UCT 10KM Memorial Race
Aynslee Minnaar – delighted with her win. Photo – Stephen Granger

Only seven athletes have achieved winning times under 36 minutes in the 42-year history of the race, and the surprise package of the race was UCT Molecular and Cell Biology PhD student, Caitlyn Mahony’s excellent run for second position, just 34 seconds off the 36 minute target. Trail and road athlete from the Boxer Club, Nicky Wills, placed third in 38:10.

Athletes’ Academy athlete, Deon-Lee Hendricks, had his work cut out in his title defense, holding off Tymebank Langa’s Edward Jack by just three seconds to claim his second win at UCT.  The intense contest brought out the best in both athletes, with Hendricks’ 29:58 the fastest time this century – 30 seconds behind Makhosonke Fika’s course record set in 1995.

UCT 10KM Memorial Race
Deon-Lee Hendricks – successfully defended his title at the UCT Memorial 10km. Photo – Stephen Granger

Owen MacHelm (29:53 in 1997) is the only other athlete to have clocked a faster winning time on the course than Hendricks, who only managed to break Jack’s tenacity in the final kilometre. Hendricks’ finishing speed on the grass proved decisive and he held on to a narrow victory, with his teammate, Awethu Ntsotho, finishing 47 seconds later in third.

Jack has an impressive history at the UCT Memorial 10km. He won twice as a junior (2018 and 2019), was once runner-up as a junior in 2017 and this year ran a close second as a senior athlete.

A feature of the race was the turn-out of many of the past winners of the Merrilyn Smith trophy to remember and celebrate the life of the extraordinarily talented UCT athlete, Isavel Roche-Kelly, who lost her life at 24 years in a cycling accident in Ireland.  Her Johannesburg-based brother, David, provided some poignant memories of his sister’s formative years in the Free State as well as her rapid rise to super-star status.

UCT 10KM Memorial Race
Some of the past winners of the Merrilyn Smith trophy who gathered at the UCT Oval on Sunday . Front – Bulelwa Simae, Jowaine Parrott, Grace de Oliveira, Evelina Tshabalala. Back – Kim Laxton, Rita Toto, Elana van Zyl, Terri-Lee Bedford, Cynthia Booysens (who stood in for her sister Valda Ford) and Lena Lotter.

Grace de Oliveira (who won in 1987 and 1988), Evelina Tshabalala (1989 and 1990), Jowaine Parrott (1994 and 1996), Rita Toto (2000 and 2002), Nomvuyisi Seti (2004, 2009 and 2018), Bulelwa Simae (2012, 2013 and 2017) and Zintle Xiniwe (2014) took part in the race (Zintle and Seti placing 4th and 5th respectively), while Terri-Lee Bedford (1992), Elana Van Zyl (1991 and 1995), Kim Laxton (2007) and Lena Lotter (2015) were on hand to lend support to the finishers. 


UCT 10KM Memorial Race
Referee Chris Dooner keeps an eye on proceedings as Tsungai Mwanengeni wins the Masters 50 years competition. Photo – Stephen Granger

Men:  1 Deon-Lee Hendricks (Athletes Academy) 29:58; 2 Edward Jack (Tymebank Langa) 30:01; 3 Awetu Ntsotho (Ath Academy) 30:48; 4 Emmanuel Fredericks (Ath Academy) 31:32; 5 Philani Senqe (Ath Academy) 31:53; 6 Sibusiso Mugwaza (Khay) 32:51; 7 Dylan Stevenson (tmp) 34:02; 8 Morne Kammies (Kuils River) 34:05; 9 Godwin Swartz (Boxer) 34:05; 10 Tsungai Mwanengeni (RCS Gugs) 34:55

Juniors: 1 Gidiano Jonkers (Tmp) 41:31; 2 David Johnson (Sp Har) 41:51; 3 Chad van der Poll (ARD) 45:42; 4 Bongikosi Pietersen (Farnese) 46:37; 5 Casey Raseasala (tmp) 48:28

Masters 40yrs: 1 Neil Broers (AAC) 35:54; 2 Johnson Njoroge (Bell) 36:42; 3 Andile Milandu (Kuils River) 38:08

Masters 50yrs: 1 Tsungai Mwaenengeni (RCS Gugs) 34:55; 2 Greg Hendricks (Sp Har) 36:48; 3 Xolile Macanda (RCS Gugs) 37:19

Masters 60yrs: 1 Sipho Motau (RCS Gugs) 42:53; 2 James Wisbach (VOB) 42:56; 3 Greg Jacobs (edge) 44:03

Masters 70yrs: 1 Brian Merryweather (Edge) 53:30; 2 Niklaas April (M Plain) 56:32; 3 Brian Rothman (B’fell) 58:19

Masters 80yrs: 1 Kaare James (Pine) 1:16:31; 2 Yusuf Kamaldien (Itheko) 1:31:14

UCT 10KM Memorial Race
Top Three – Winner Aynslee Minnaar (left) with runner up Caitlyn Malony (right) and third-placed Nicky Wills. Photo – Stephen Granger

Women:  1 Aynslee Minnaar (Australia) 35:43; 2 Caitlyn Mahony (tmp) 36:34; 3 Nicola Wills (Boxer) 38:10; 4 Zintle Xiniwe (Nedbank) 39:14; 5 Nomvuyisi Seti (Nedbank) 41:24; 6 Lee-Shay Willemse (Velocity) 41:54; 7 Simphiwe Mabuza (UWC) 42:39; 8 Tanya Posthumus-Fox (Nedbank) 42:41; 9 Obertina Kanyango (Edge) 42:51; 10 Marlize Vienings (Edge) 43:13

Juniors: 1 Amy Pietersen (Velocity) 52:38; 2 Ashleigh Hertog (Pine) 54:29; 3 Le Kiesha Lakay (Kuils River) 55:10; 4 Muniba Simons (Pine) 1:15:30; 5 Bailey Schuin (Edge) 1:16:41

Masters 40yrs: 1 Seti; 2 Posthumus-Fox; 3 Vienings

Masters 50yrs: 1 Kanyango; 2 Jackie Misoll (Pine) 48:42; 3 Francine Kleyn (M Plain Titans) 52:11

Masters 60yrs: 1 Grace de Oliveira (Maxed Elite) 46:35; 2 Nicky Andrews (Edge) 54:29; 3 Sarah Johl (VOB) 54:41

Masters 70yrs: 1 Nancy Will (Pine) 55:02; 2 Maurine Verster (edge) 1:01:08; 3 Pixie Sparg (Celtic) 1:02:57

Masters 80yrs: 1 Marlene James (Pine) 1:14:16; 2 Annetjie Bernstzen (Good Har) 1:33:58


UCT 10KM Memorial Race
Remembering Isavel Roche_Kelly – her brother David Roche-Kelly with three of her UCT Athletics Club teammates, Steve Reid – Club Chairman in 1981, track legend Ricky Robinson and Neil Hobbs, the race sponsor. Photo – Stephen Granger