Isavel Roche-Kelly made her mark on The Ultimate Human Race. Such was her contribution to the world’s biggest and oldest ultra-marathon, that the only medal named after a woman will be the one bearing her name.
CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn said, “It is with a sense of pleasure and excitement that we announce the inclusion of the new Isavel Roche-Kelly Medal to the Comrades Marathon medal collection. This new medal could not be introduced at a more relevant time in honouring the participation and contribution of women to The Ultimate Human Race.”
The Isavel Roche-Kelly Medal will be the women’s equivalent of the Wally Hayward Medal, which is awarded to those male athletes who finish outside the gold medals, but under 6 hours i.e. Position 11 to sub 6 hours.
This new medal, specifically for females, will be awarded to those women finishing in Position 11 to sub 7 hours 30 minutes; i.e. outside the gold medals, but under 7½ hours, and exactly like the coveted Wally Hayward Medal it will be comprised of ½ Silver/ ½ Gold.
Twenty-year old Isavel Roche-Kelly was named the UCT Sportsperson of the Year for 1980. An unknown on the athletics scene, Roche-Kelly set the roads alight that year when she became the first woman to break the 7½-hour barrier and win the Comrades Marathon in 7:18:00; well under the silver-medal cut-off of 7:30:00, and in the process shattering the women's record by more than an hour.
Earlier that year she also became only the third women in Africa to complete a marathon in under three hours. She went on to win the 1981 Comrades Up Run in a time of 6:44:35 the following year. Sadly she passed away in a cycling accident in her native Northern Ireland at the age of only 24, just 3 years later.
Sunday, 9 June 2019 will see the start of the 94th Comrades Marathon at the Durban City Hall at 05h30 and the finish, 12 hours later, at the Scottsville Race Course, covering a distance of approximately 87km. This will be the 48th Up Run in Comrades history.
CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn said, ‘We anticipate that the introduction of the Isavel Roche-Kelly Medal will inject an added impetus to the 2019 Comrades Marathon in the form of increased intensity of competition in the women’s race. We welcome all of our runners, supporters and stakeholders to share in the camaraderie, joy and exhilaration of Comrades race day on Sunday, 9 June 2019.’