South African ultrarunning legend Mavis Hutchison dies
Affectionately known as the “Galloping Granny”, Hutchinson passed away yesterday at the age of 97.
She was a pioneer for women in running, and especially as an ultra-marathon runner. In 1965 she became only the third woman to complete the Comrades Marathon (as an unofficial entrant), and then went on to complete another seven Comrades.
In 1973 she became the first woman to run the 602km from Germiston to Durban at the age of 49. This led to her nickname, which became her trademark and a name she proudly carried.
At age 53, Mavis made history by becoming the first woman to run across America from Los Angeles to New York City. She continued competing at the World Master’s Games, where she set new records, until her early 80’s and was still seen training regularly up to a few years ago.
Western Cape MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais, said Mavis embodied the concept of a life-long athlete. “She stayed fit and healthy and continued competing at an unbelievable age. She paved the way for many female athletes and was also a mentor and inspiration to many. She never hesitated to give back to the running community. We are grateful for her contribution to sport and for the legacy she leaves behind.
“Our condolences go out to Mavis’ family, friends and all those whose lives were touched by her dedication to the running community.”
In 1982 I lived with my missionary companion, Marlies Klutman, in Fish Hoek, in the Cape of South Africa. Mavis was our landlady and friend. Here’s our little flat, attached to her home.
In 1982, Mavis was the only member of the LDS church in Fish Hoek. She was so kind to us as we tried to find more interested people. I was shocked to visit many years later and find a Ward there. I was invited to speak in their meeting. I remember asking them, “Where were all of you in 1982??!!”
This is the bay by Fish Hoek. I knocked on every single door on that hillside.
The Cape is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I loved it there. I loved knowing Mavis and her husband. I wonder what it’s like to run in heaven.