04 Feb, 2013

75 Years on…

75 Years on…

Pinelands Athletic Club, Cape Town

The Pinelands Athletic Club dates back to 19 August 1937, when 21 local residents met to discuss a proposal for a new club by Gifford ‘Penty’ Pentland-Smith, a former member of Celtic Harriers. The proposal was accepted and training began with early morning sessions on a field that became the Pinelands Cricket Oval – which is still home to the club today – and the athletes had to share the field with the horse-riding Earl of Athlone, Governor General of the Cape, and his wife Alice. Over the next 40 years, many Springbok athletes ran in the dark blue vest and light blue shorts of Pinelands, including George Munnik, John Anderson, Edna Maskell, Brenda Parkinson, Donald Macdonald, Anne McKenzie, Heide De Kock and Freddie Williams.


When the global Running Boom took off in the late 70s, ‘fun runs’ became popular in South Africa, so the club formed its Pinelands Plodders section. Initially kitted out in bright yellow T-shirts, many of these joggers then graduated to full membership and blue club vests, including current Club President Kaare James and his wife Marlene, who is the current club secretary.


“Marlene and I joined the Plodders in 1978 and I ran my first marathon in 1979 at the Kellerprinz Winelands in Stellenbosch. I’m still going strong and last year I did my 30th Two Oceans, while Kenny Williams ran his 30th this year,” says Kaare. “I’ve seen the club grow a lot and change a lot over the years – it started with a family gathering feel about it, then became a lot more serious in the 1980s, and then went back to more of a social club, and today we have about 220 members.”



In 1983, Dave Spence was appointed as Head Coach and under his guidance a number of Pinelands athletes posted outstanding results, including the late Welcome Nyoka, who was Western Province (WP) champion in road, track and cross country in the 80s. Then in the 90s Makhosonke Fika represented SA on the track and road as well as in cross country, including the IAAF World Champs Marathon, while Nancy Will won many WP titles and set many WP records from 10km to the Comrades. (Dave was also coach to the ‘Flying Policeman,’ Johan Rossouw, who set the SA 100m record of 10.06 seconds in 1988, which still stands today.)


“Cross Country was a big favourite of Dave’s, and in 1987 Pinelands dethroned Stellenbosch University of the WP Cross Country title for both men and women, and we held these titles on and off for the next 10 years,” says Kaare. Today, although Pinelands is regarded predominantly as a road running club, there are a few members who participate in track and field, including the club’s oldest member, 92-year-old Philipp Frech, who holds world records in shot put and discus in his age category. A trio of 80-year-olds, Borg Stannuis, Steve Johnston and Neville Sharpley, are also active, while the slightly younger Robin Buck still regularly wins long jump events.



Morning club group runs take place from Monday to Friday at 5:15am, and in the evenings there are 10km runs on Monday and Wednesday and a hill repeat session on Tuesday, all at 6pm. The club’s 2.5km or 5km time trial is run on a Thursday evening at 6pm, and usually attracts between 60 and 80 athletes. Young runners are catered for with a four-lap 2.5km course on the cricket fields, to keep them off the roads. “The social vibe at our club is great, especially on Thursday nights after the time trail, when meals are on sale, and we get not only our club members attending, but also local residents and members of other clubs,” says Kaare. The second Thursday of each month is Club-Nite, and other social activities include bring-and-braais, Trivial Pursuit evenings, scavenger hunts, the annual President’s Breakfast Run and the annual awards dinner dance.


Each year Pinelands organises the Asics Hohenort 15km run in February in Constantia, the 5x3km cross country relay in April, which traditionally kicks of the WP cross country season, and the McKenna Scott 10km in Pinelands in August. This third event will form part of the club’s 75th Anniversary celebrations:

?         5 August: Mckenna Scott 10km – the finish will be lined with special balloons.

?         7 August: Cocktail Party at the club for Ex-Chairmen/Life Members/VIP’s.

?         19 August: Don Lock Memorial 8km – each Pinelands runner will run with a special balloon.

?         31 August: Dinner/dance at the Pinelands Town Hall for members & partners.



Clubhouse: Lower Oval Sports Field, off St Stephens Road, Pinelands

Secretary: Marlene James 021 531 6928 / 073 319 4163 /