Hundreds of Comrades runners visited the Running Alone stand at the Comrades Expo to either buy his long-awaited autobiography, to have their book purchases signed by the legendary 87-year old and have their photographs taken with him, or simply to meet and shake his hand.
Among the Comrades winners who came along to greet Jackie on the stand were Bruce Fordyce (nine times winner) and Alan Robb (four times winner). Barry Holland (more than 45 Comrades completed) came to say hello as did 80 year old Alf Burgess, the oldest entrant in the 2019 event.
Among the many international visitors to the Running Alone stand were runners from Brazil, India, the USA, Canada, Britain and Namibia - just a few of the nations that support Comrades in ever-increasing numbers.
Many local and international entrants had read about Jackie’s autobiography on social media, including news and a book review by The Running Man (Stuart Mann) who visited the stand to collect an autographed copy of the book, and veteran newsman Dave Jack. See Stuart’s book review HERE. See a pic of Stuart in the pictures gallery.
Bruce Fordyce, nine-times winner of the Comrades, reviewed Jackie’s autobiography in his column in The Citizen newspaper. He commented: ‘Jackie's story is an absolute must for every serious marathon runner. His is a story worth telling. I enjoyed every page.’
During the launch at the Comrades Expo Jackie was interviewed by TV, radio and print journalists, all of whom were gracious in their interface with the diminutive former Comrades record holder.
On Comrades day Jackie attended the start of the race as a VIP guest and worked at the finish as one of the Comrades legends presenting green numbers to those finishers who qualified for those awards. He was interviewed on the SABC Sports channel that was broadcasting live from the finish at the Scottsville race course in Pietermartizburg. You can view the interview broadcast live towards the end of the day on youtube. Scroll to the final minutes of the broadcast.
A number of photographs of visitors to the Running Alone stand as well as a selection of other images captured during Comrades day can be viewed in the picture gallery.
Short overview of Running Alone
Running Alone is the unique life story of legendary South African long distance runner Jackie Mekler. Heart-wrenching in parts, Jackie’s story unfolds to reveal a man imbibed with a fiercely competitive spirit that carried him through the often harsh experiences in an era when the first glimmerings of medical and scientific advances in the sport were emerging. That indomitable spirit coupled with his passion for running saw Jackie win five of the eleven 90km Comrades Marathons in which he competed. During his many years as a long distance runner, Jackie competed in 403 races of under standard marathon distance, 41 standard marathons (won 14) in South Africa, Canada (Empire Games), England, Scotland, Greece and Finland, and 32 ultra marathons (won 13, including Comrades, Pieter Korkie and London to Brighton). He set new records in many of these events. Jackie also set world records on the track for 30, 40 and 50 miles running against the clock. His narrative adds substantial value to the broad long distance running community, from those runners taking their first tentatives steps on the road to middle-of-the-field competitors and elite athletes at the pinnacle of their game.
During his many years as a long-distance runner, Jackie Mekler competed in 403 races of under standard marathon distance, 41 standard marathons (won 14) in South Africa, Canada (Empire Games), England, Scotland, Greece and Finland, and 32 ultra-marathons (won 13, including Comrades, Pieter Korkie and London to Brighton). He set new records in many of these events. Jackie also set world records on the track for 40 and 50 miles running against the clock. He is the recipient of the Spirit of Comrades and Living Legends Awards (see picture gallery).