A short history written by Paul Brink and compiled from notes and chats with pioneering members

Jim Dawson and Kirk Hitchings

The Start Chiltern Athletic Club was founded in 1978 by John Frost and Dennis Gillespie. Originally the club was part of Chiltern Sports Club in Pitlochry Road. Dennis was the first chairman for a short while but due to work commitments he handed over the reins to John who served as chairman until 1981. Other pioneering members were Terence Powell (3rd Chairman between ’81 & ‘83), Paul von Wiesse (Chairman ’84) Alan Armstrong, Tommy and Avril Mitchell, (Tommy was chairman ’86 – ’88) Stuart Grant, Stuart Wilson, Grant Thornton, Sue and John Clark, Boet van Graan (Chairman ’92-’94), Sue Liebenberg, Shirley Cason, Rob Lockhart-Ross, Angie Stephenson and of course, Frankie Cawdry, all Comrades runners.

The Chiltern Athletic Club was originally part of the Chiltern Sports Club in Pitlochry Road. After an altercation with a bowls-dominated committee (those early Chiltern runners were a raucous, disputatious bunch), they broke away from the main club and ran the club time trial from a car boot near the club. For a couple of years, the pre-Comrades party was held in the new club tent in Tommy Mitchell’s backyard in Wellington Drive.

The Owl insignia Chiltern’s famous Night Race in the late ‘80s was a 21km race on a 3-lap course around the then University of Durban Westville campus. As the Chiltern Night Race was held on a Friday evening, it was well supported and the legendary after-race socialising and partying made Chiltern a much-favoured Athletic Club. Being a Night Race, the Owl became the Chiltern Athletic Club’s emblem. “Rose and Crown” Fundraising The then mayoress of Westville, Nicky Armstrong was persuaded to grant the club use of the municipal owned land on the site where the clubhouse stands, and fund-raising began. There used to be an annual song and dance revue on an English pub theme, known as the Pig and Whistle, put on in PMB by lawyer, Brian Kurz and his wife, Belinda, featuring local celebs including rugby legend, Doc Louw. For a couple of years, they were persuaded to put on the show for a few nights at the Westville Civic Centre and the whole club plus many volunteers used to pitch in, cook and serve a typical pub meal- roast beef, fish and chips, etc., before the show. These were known as the “Rose and Crown” evenings. They were always fully supported by Westville locals. Incredible quantities of beer were consumed, and sufficient funds for the clubhouse were raised.

Chiltern Clubhouse Local architect and founder member John Frost, designed the clubhouse and building work, driven by Stuart Grant commenced probably 1990 or 1991. For a while the Chiltern Clubhouse operated with no floor tiles, an old wooden home bar donated by someone whose wife didn’t want it in the house any more, and an ancient fridge. The new 4km and 8km time trial courses to “Smiley Face” were laid out. Unfortunately, political developments on the UDW campus in the early ‘90’s meant the Night Race couldn’t continue safely, and the course was moved to a section of the Westville 15km route. For traffic safety reasons the night race was changed to a day race run from the newly-built Pavilion (they were race sponsors) for a couple of years, but that proved unsatisfactory. Under John Hone’s chairmanship, The Chiltern 15km race was moved to the Scout Bowl and with sponsorship from Old Mutual and Windhoek Lager. The race was run with great success, first as a night race, and then for a couple of years as a day race (for traffic reasons again). With the withdrawal of sponsorship, the race became unviable, a problem compounded by the inevitable seasonal rains that fall in the first weeks of November, John led the decision to withdraw it from the calendar, probably about 2000.

Jack’s Bar In the mid- to late 90’s Jack and his son Andre Zuidewind (Jack was also a chairman) and Jim Dawson were involved in building a new bar, tiling the floor and painting. Towards the late ‘90’s paving in front of the club was done followed by erecting the pillars and frame and Tommy Mitchell organised the canvas awning. Sadly, Jack was shot and killed when trying to resolve a dispute between two employees but his legacy is fondly remembered with the plaque “Jack’s Bar” mounted above the bar.

Scratch Club After a boost from the 2000 millennial Comrades, Chiltern membership had fallen back to about 50, and the club was in danger of becoming unviable. In 2001, under Keith Wallis ‘s chairmanship, Jim Dawson introduced the first Scratch Club, intended for members who had done nothing since the Comrades Marathon or had hibernated through winter, and to attract newcomers starting from scratch. This seems to have worked, as membership grew steadily when Jim handed over the reins in 2015 to Paul Brink. In 2019 there was a record number of 302 members who started Scratch Club of which 199 graduated the 10-week programme and completed the 8km distance. The youngest Scratch Clubber to be awarded their T Shirt was 6 yrs. old and oldest participant was 74yrs old. Scratch Club also became an annual club focus, helping to fill the hole left by the lack of a club race. Later it became an important part of the development focus demanded in the current political environment, on which the club’s continued leasehold depended. And, I suppose, it helped the club mature, tipping the scale from a focus on Comrades and drinking, not necessarily in that order, to a more general family-orientated athletic club. The success of the Scratch Club not only got couch potatoes fit, but many runners went on to run the great Comrades Marathon. The Scratch Club was so successful that a number of other athletic clubs have copied the model and created their own “Zero to Hero” type training programmes.

Kirk – Champion of the “Wannabees” Graduating from Scratch Club, a number of runners wanted to enter Comrades Marathon. “The Wannabees” (Wannabe a Comrades Marathon Runners) relied on Kirk Hitchin’s motivation to follow a structured training programme to qualify for a Comrades Marathon entry and to mentally prepare for the race day itself. Based on his own weekly dairy of notes written about his own training experiences, Kirk produced a motivational booklet for the Wannabees which resulted in many Chiltern members undertaking proper training (based on Kirks Excel performance spreadsheets) and entering Comrades Marathon. Kirk also prepared videos and arranged guest speakers for the famous Comrades Pasta Parties held in the week prior to Comrades. Kirk’s energy and commitment was ably followed by Bruce Ivins who led the Comrades training programme for a number of years until 2016.

Ed the Barman Bar duty in the early days was an easy affair as club membership was small and drinkers were few (albeit vociferous). As membership grew, Ed Page, supported by his wife Lorraine, served as volunteer barman for about 6 to 8 years until 2017 when the beastly roster system was reintroduced. Ed’s thankless task included buying stock and keeping club members hydrated and under control. Ed was diabetic and not a runner but an accomplished sailor and great story teller. Sadley Ed passed away in 2023.

Chiltern Additions Under the chairmanship of Deon Du Plessis, the new storage shed, firepit and braai were constructed in 2013. Prior to the building of the shed, the Chiltern gazebo and all the paraphernalia for race events was kept in a Venter trailer which was wheeled out and back into the bar area (sometimes with difficulty) at closing time. The indigenous gardens were planted out in 2014 and a short while later, kid’s Jungle Gym was erected and front lawn and playground area was fenced off. Development Runners (Subsidized members). Originally referred to as Development Runners, the squad was later changed to “Subsidized Runners” as many were anything but “Development” runners – the team were achieving excellent finishing times - from Time Trial to Marathons to the Comrades Marathon - and they held the Chiltern banner up high. The history was that Chiltern had organically established a support system for indigent and less fortunate runners. Without external political pressure, the club’s members responded naturally and generously with the provision of kit and payment of race entry fees etc. Under Robin Rowe as Chairman 2016 – 2023 (8yrs _ our longest serving chairman) and Bruce Ivins’ enthusiasm, our subsidized running squad mushroomed and careful management was required to address both financial sustainability and the club ethos and character in general. Bruce Ivins, who had taken over from Kirk Hitchens, worked closely with Robin and he played a vital role setting down the rules and eligibility criteria for our “Development Runners” and was the main driver behind their training and support. Shaun and Julie Hornby joined the club in early 2017 and some 4months later Shaun suffered a fatal heart attack. Speaker after speaker at Shaun’s funeral – one of the largest that I have attended - spoke about his generous soul and active Christian deeds. It was not surprising that Jules established a charity trust in 2018 called the “One Twenty Nine Thirty Foundation” (12930 was Shaun’s Comrades Marathon Permanent Green Number) to further assist funding our less fortunate runners. Over the years the foundation has financially assisted numerous runners with kit and race fees. Currently the foundation has capped its support for Comrades Marathon entries to 35 runners but it does assist a total of approximately 50 club members each year with second-hand shoes, kit etc. Julie’s “One Twenty Nine Thirty Foundation” demonstrates that Chiltern is a real “club” where all members no matter their status, creed, colour or ability are very much a part of the club. Sponsors For many, many, years Alan and daughter Kim Armstrong (Leaf Technology & Performance Office Supplies) were incredibly generous sponsors and supporters of the Chiltern Athletic Club and they provided T-shirts for Comrades Marathon participants as well as our Scratch Club finishers etc. More recent Chiltern sponsors have been ➢ Stanley Stationers - Kevin & Caroline Stanley ➢ DBU - Dawn & Andrew Blakeway ➢ Keyrus Digital - Adam Walker ➢ Pick n Pay - Hylton & Ross Henry Structured Wealth Management - Indy & Brenda Naidoo

Chiltern remains highly appreciative of all sponsorship and hopes that our sponsor’s respective brand is well remembered. Honorary Life Members Honorary life members from those pioneering years were John Frost, Terrence Powell, Alan Armstrong, Jim Dawson, Kirk Hitchens, Bruce Wedderburn, and the late Frankie Cawdry.


Our MEMBERSHIP PLANS

We have a plan to suit all sporting levels and ages, including social club memberships allowing full use of the club facilities.

POPULAR

FULL MEMBER

R650

FULL ASA LICENSED MAIN MEMBER

COUNTRY

R400

OUT OF TOWNERS

SOCIAL

R400

social member, use of club facilities - adult

POPULAR

FULL SPOUSE

R550

FULL ASA LICENSED SPOUSE OF A MAIN MEMBER

STUDENT

R280

full asa membership for students

JUNIOR SOCIAL

R100

SOCIAL MEMBER, USE OF CLUB FACILITIES - junior

PENSIONER (65+)

R550

FULL ASA LICENSED PENSIOER

JUNIOR

R270

full asa membership for the juniorsu0026nbsp;

SUBSIDISED ***

RPOA

discounted fees for subsidised members