Ken is married to Thiru. They have two children, Keeran Age 16 and Jenni Age 15. Ken also has two sons, Gavin and David from his first marriage. Gavin lives in the UK with his wife and Ken’s only grandchild, Summer, who has just turned 4. David and his girlfriend live in Centurion.
Running Category? – In the 50 to 59 Group or what they used to call “Masters”. At 57-years-old, I often surprise myself that I’m still running – when I started, I never dreamed I would still be doing it at this age!
Qu: Professional/working field?
Financial Adviser first and foremost, but also a Registered Tax Practitioner, specialising mainly in Personal Income Tax. However, I am currently investigating doing a Bookkeeping qualification as well to ensure the long-term sustainability of my business and to meet a need of many of my clients who have asked me for this service!
Qu: When did you start running?
I ‘jogged’ when I felt the mood from my late 20’s, but was never consistent or serious. I remember running a night race at Westgate Shopping Centre in 1993 as a bit of a dare from someone at work. Without much training, I seem to re-call finishing around 63 minutes for 10km. The catalyst for taking running up more seriously was the break-up of my first marriage in 1995. For a few months, I lived life as a bachelor – typical dinner was a takeaway Cheeseburger and chips washed down by a few beers! Needless to say, I started putting on weight. I went for my annual medical in May of that year and I was somewhat overweight, Cholesterol was high for my age and, in those days, I still smoked. My Doctor wanted to put me on a diet, but I didn’t have the discipline to eat salads all the time and I told him so. So, he suggested an exercise programme, which I ignored! Approximately, two months later I won a free 3-month membership to Run / Walk for Life in a radio competition. I remembered what my Doctor had told me about exercise and thought that this was a sign, so I went along to Bedfordview Run / Walk for Life and joined. That was on the 25th July 1995! After that 3-month membership expired, I was hooked and the rest, as they say, is history!
I originally joined Fit2000 in Bedfordview in 1996 but met Thiru in 1999 and moved to Pretoria in 2000. As Thiru worked at the CSIR at the time, I already knew one or two people from the Running Club, so it made sense to join them, especially as we lived a stone’s throw away from the CSIR anyway. My first full year of membership was 2001.
Qu: Have you run Comrades? How many times?
Yes. Started 10 Comrades and finished 6! I first attempted it in 1998. I was a little arrogant thinking that “it’s just another race” and didn’t put in the necessary training for the distance. In those days, there was an 11-hour cut-off and I crossed the line, but in 11:26 – no medal for that. Tried again in 2000, when the cut-off was increased to 12-hours and went into the race with far more respect for the distance and finished comfortably in 11:16 – what still remains my best time for the race. Ran it on and off again until 2012. After failing to finish that year, I decided my Comrades days were over. I’m very grateful as a “slow” runner to have achieved 6 medals, something I never thought that I would get and I’m proud of every one of them.
Qu: What has been your favourite race?
There are too many to count! When I was younger, I really enjoyed the “big” events such as Comrades, Two Oceans, Loskop Ultra, Om-die-Dam and I even ran the London Marathon in 1998. Last year, I had the privilege of running the New York City Marathon, which was an incredible experience. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started preferring the smaller races – mainly those outside of Gauteng. The one race that I ran last year which I thoroughly enjoyed, even though it was hot and tough was the God’s Window Half-Marathon in Graskop.
Qu: What do you regard as the peak of your performances in races?
I ran my very best between January and Comrades in 2000. I achieved what are still my all-time PB’s in all distances from 32km upwards during that period. I didn’t realise at the time that it would be the best that I would ever run, otherwise I may have enjoyed it more. During that period I ran the Loskop Ultra in April 2000 in 5:15 – certainly the my personal best performance of any race anywhere. I went through 42km in that race in 4:18 – my best ever marathon time! It was such a wonderful day and I felt that I could have run forever at that pace. My 2nd best 50km time was 5:25, so it was a huge PB at the time.
Qu: What are your PBs for Comrades, 42km, 21km, 10km?
Comrades 11:16 in 2000. My best “Marathon” time was 4:18 during the Loskop Ultra in 2000 as described above. In an actual 42km, I did 4:19 at the Flexicon Marathon in Witbank also in April 2000 – a small once-off marathon. For shorter distances, I was running better when I was younger – with a PB of 1:56 at the Jaguar Half-Marathon in September 1998 on a suspect short-course (no GPS in those days) and I could never break 50 minutes on a 10km, with an all-time PB of 50:57 at the Florida 10km night race, also around September 1998.
Qu: Do you have any particular aims for your running in the future?
I’ve achieved so much and more than I would ever have believed in my early days of running, so there are far fewer goals now. I’ve run 7 Two Oceans Half-Marathon’s and would like to get to 10 of that race and I have been a dedicated entrant into the 1000km Challenge competition since 1997. They do a special trophy called the “Round the World” trophy, which is awarded when you’ve run a total of 40075km in the competition – the distance of the circumference of the Equator! I’m about 2300km short of that total, so when races start again, I’ll be chipping away at that. Only 14 people have achieved it so far, so it is rather exclusive.
After New York, I’m not sure if I have another Marathon in me, but if International Travel opens up again at some point and marathons re-start before I get too old, I think I’d like to do at least one more International Marathon – Berlin, Rotterdam, Paris, Prague – it doesn’t really matter, whichever one I can get an entry into!
If someone had told me when I joined Run / Walk for Life in 1995 what a journey I was starting and what I would do over the years, I would never have believed them! My initial goal was to run 5km without walking! I did that in October 1995 at a fun run, for the first time. The sport helped me give up smoking in 1998, for which I am very grateful and I’ve made so many friends through the sport and I cannot count the wonderful people that it has brought into my life. People who remain friends, even those who have stopped running for various reasons, remain friends. Now, I hope to be able to continue for as long as my legs will carry me, despite getting slower as one gets older. Long may we continue.