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According to his mother, Bruce Fordyce (see Exercises 8.19) won his first race at the age of 3 and then did little serious running until after he had left school (Aitken, 1983). Then at age 20, during an Old Boy’s rugby match, he became aware that his fitness had fallen precipitously, and he resolved to start running. In June 1976 he heard about the Comrades Marathon and started training with the idea of running the race the following year.

In his first run in 1977, Fordyce finished 43rd in 6:45. Only the following year, when he finished in 14th place in 6:11, did his potential become apparent. Since then his running has improved greatly (see Exercises 8.26). He has won the Comrades Marathon eight times in succession and the London-to-Brighton Marathon three times, a feat never before achieved. He has thrice lowered the up-Comrades record, has set the down-Comrades record, and ran 4:50:21 for 50 miles during the 1983 London-to-Brighton race.

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His racing performances have improved gradually and progressively virtually every year, with one of his best runs being in 1988. This indicates that each year he has learned something that has allowed him to get inexorably closer to his genetic limits.

But most remarkable has been the manner in which he has achieved his most recent victories. A friend who watched the television broadcast of the 1983 Comrades told me that watching Bruce run was an ethereal experience. Later when I saw a recording of the race, I too was transfixed by what I saw. For the screen bore witness to something that was intangible, something beyond words.

Exercises 8.19 Bruce Fordyce with his sister Oonagh during the 1982 London-to-Brigh-ton race.

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