Brief History compiled by Sven Liedberg from available meeting minutes/Newsletters
The club was formed in 1984 (the inaugural meeting was held on 4 Jan 1984) by among others, Malcolm Spence, the South African and World Record Holder on 400m in the late ‘50s- early 60’s. (Malcolm represented SA in the Rome 1960 Olympics 400m where he managed to get a bronze medal). Malcolm was the first Chairman and his Committee consisted of the following: Mike Sass (Secretary), Pieter van Halderen (Treasurer), Saint Hayes (Club captain) plus Keith Toerien, Neels Joubert, Ron Taylor and Leon Fouche. One of the main objectives of forming the Club was to be able to stage the Forest Marathon which was also part of the first ever Knysna Oyster festival, or as it was called in those early days the Knysna Winter Festival. The first race was staged on 14 July, 1984, and the main sponsor was Willards Foods, thus the 42,2 km race was called Willards Knysna Forest Marathon. The total sponsorship money was in the order of R10 000.
The Club has grown over the years and prominent members include Kenny Wilkinson who has completed 22 Comrades, Lars Nyler, now running for Sedgefield Striders who has completed 26 Comrades. Kenny’s name appears first in October 1988, when he was made responsible for the beer sales at the Bellandia race. This was sponsored by Bellandia Construction (ex SWA) and the course was set out from Loerie Park to Leisure Isle, the Heads then along the Lagoon towards the White and Red Bridges across the Knysna River and back again. This route was very flat compared to the Forest as some participants considered the Forest too tough! The Bellandia was thus very similar to its successor the Heads to Heads Race which was only run for a few years due to traffic congestions along the Lagoon road. Neels Joubert from the original Committee is of course still a very active Club runner and another long standing member is Clive Krige who was given the award for the most spirited runner of the year in 1986. Bruce Fordyce was first invited to run the Forest Marathon in 1988 when the main sponsors were Mitchells (Lex himself, a very active runner / member in those days) and Karos Hotels.
The Club House, previously the home of a giant water slide, was officially opened towards the end of 1997 after a substantial renovation, mainly arranged by Herman Nortje (Chairman 1995 and 1996) and the then Chairman, Dag Willems. Dag signed the lease agreement (running for 20 years till 30 September, 2017) with the Municipality on 8 August, 1997 and the annual rental for the period is the princely fee of R 2.00 (Two rands / year!!!). It is noted in the minutes of 11 November 1997 that ‘enquiries with regards to a liquor licence must be done’!!!
The Club has always encouraged participation in the Two Oceans and the Comrades and on some occasions as many as 51 of the members have taken part in these prestigious events. Numerous silver medals have been achieved, however, as far as known a Gold medal is still outstanding for these world-renown races