“It was across the road at the (KwaZulu-Natal) Athletics Club,” said Craig, who is one of the Comrades “green number” graduates having completed 40 consecutive races, four times the number needed to qualify. His first Comrades Marathon was in 1959. “We still had to run another lap around the field,” he recalled.
Durban-born and bred Craig, who is now 82, believes that any runner’s first Comrades marathon is the most memorable.
“It’s a day of your life you’ll never forget.”
He recalled being surprised at how many people seemed to have pitched up to watch the end of the race, when he first ran in 1959.
“But it turned out they had in fact come to the (Kings Park) rugby stadium to watch a match against New Zealand,” he said.
The winner of 32 silver medals believes runners should keep a positive frame of mind. “If you say you’re going for a silver, go for a silver. Don’t say, ‘I’ll see how I am when I get to Drummond’. If you don’t get your silver, at least you’ve tried.”
Craig’s introduction to the Comrades was as an 11-year-old when he and a friend, the late Trevor Luke, ran alongside the winner for his last stretch down Old Fort Road, wondering why he wasn’t running faster.
“We said one day we’ll run this race,” said Craig. His pal completed two marathons. He also recalled that back in the day, it cost five shillings (50cents) for a pair of takkies, the standard footwear; another five for Teesav shorts and “three and five” (35cents) for a shirt.
Craig is completely in favour of Moses Mabhida Stadium being the finishing line “because it’s so iconic”. He’ll be among other members of the much-coveted “green number” group, handing them to new “graduates”. Upon qualifying for a green number, a runner’s race number becomes his, or hers, for life.
The 2018 Comrades Marathon takes place on Sunday, June 10, starting in Pieter-maritzburg and ending in Durban at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.