Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 157 Issue 157 - March 2023 | Page 15

He says he liked that the Johnson Crane Half Marathon offered an extended cut-off time of five and a half hours , due to being run in conjunction with the marathon , but that ’ s not the reason he picked it for his 600th . “ With Johnson Crane , you always had that extra hour or two , but I actually picked it because I ran the Johnson Crane Marathon every year to qualify for the Two Oceans Marathon – I have permanent number 64 for the event , and the race was always good to me . Being in January , it gave you enough time to prepare properly for the Two Oceans , but of course , in those days I finished the marathon within the four and a quarter hours to qualify , much faster than I currently run !” says Dok .
One has to go back to 1982 to find the start of Dok ’ s long running career . That August , he ran his first 21km at the Cartoria Half in Pretoria , clocking a most respectable debut time of one hour and 39 minutes . Dok says he was really pleased to have broken the 100-minute barrier , and considered it a good start . He would later clock a personal best for the distance of 94 minutes , in the old Verwoerdburg Half Marathon , in what is now Centurion . “ Hell , I thought I was breaking every record , because I had to run flat-out the whole way ,” he recalls .
In terms of favourite races , Dok says he always enjoyed the Scottburgh Half Marathon on the Natal South Coast , and also came to love the Kleinmond Half Marathon in the Western Cape . “ We had a house on the South Coast , which we visited yearly , and I would say the Scottburgh Half was one of the most scenic races , because you ran out alongside the ocean , and then came back again on the same route , with the ocean now on your other side . The Kleinmond race went into the Kogelberg Mountains , which made it unique , and I would stay in the hotel in Kleinmond , where one of my former students was general manager .” Closer to home , he says he always enjoyed the Om Die Dam and Kaapsehoop races , especially the latter . “ Half of the Kaapsehoop was downhill , and that suited me brilliantly !”
He goes on to say that 21 kilometres suited him best , even though he did also tackle longer distances . “ The half marathon has always been my race . The marathons just felt too long for me , and
A special message for Dok from Bruce Fordyce .
Two Oceans was definitely too long , let alone the Comrades !” Nevertheless , he went on to run more than 75 marathons and ultras , including finishing the Two Oceans Marathon 20 times , and earning one Comrades medal , while also posting a marathon best of 3:28 . “ I ’ m not a real athlete , though . I ’ m just one of the joggers starting behind . I just enjoyed it ,” says Dok .
“ I was also very fortunate to do one or two overseas marathons , in Berlin and Amsterdam . When I ran Berlin , I told my wife , Petra , I must try and break four hours , because , you know , I ’ d come all that way , and the course is fast , so I wanted to see what I could do about it . And believe it or not , I finished that Berlin Marathon in three hours , 59 minutes and 32 seconds . I wanted to do it in four hours dead , but I was 28 seconds out !”
One of his favourite local marathons was the Sun City Marathon , not just for the scenery , but also thanks to the Sun City development , which interested Dok greatly , given his line of work in the hospitality industry . “ I loved going out to Sun City and staying at the Cascades and enjoying the golf course and beautiful
While he was still recuperating , he suffered a nasty fall at home , cracking a few ribs and putting him still further back , and in the end , it was a slow , two-year process to get back to walking regularly . However , by early 2020 he was managing up to 100km a week , and feeling ready to try tackling half marathons again . “ When I saw all those doctors again , I told them I wanted to get to 600 half marathon finishes , and they said I could go for it , as long as I was 100 % fit for each race and watched out for any nasty after-effects of a race ,” says Dok .
However , then COVID arrived and threw yet another frustrating spanner in the works . “ There were no official races for much of the next two years . All of my half marathon finishes had come in official races , and all within the official cut-off time of those races , and I am quite proud of that fact , but I had to wait about two years before I could continue working towards my goal of 600 ,” says Dok . Fortunately , the lockdown restrictions were eventually relaxed , so Dok could go back to the races , and come the end of January 2023 , he was all set for his 600th half .
A surprise call-up for Dok at prize-giving .