Brown and Mcalister Farewell

Good evening everyone and welcome. We are here tonight to celebrate and bid farewell to the Brown and Mcalister families. Apology from my wife Janice her and I are attending a Silvacel reunion, she is attending to a potjie on my behalf at the moment. I have always believed that "engelsmanne sukkel" with potjies, so maybe she will prove me wrong tonight.

James Mcalister
Helping me say a few words on "mega milage mcalister", I found my logbooks helpful. Here are some selected entries:

  • Monday 14 may 2007 - afternoon group-town route -6km-new guy James mcalister.

  • June 2007- James asked me what is the plan tonight? Slow or fast. Suddenly the slow afternoon group had a member who wanted to train faster.

  • October 2007 - James surprised everyone and ran in front tonight

  • Dec 31 st 2007 - last day of year -partner James and mark Bradfield

  • Jan 1 st 2008 - James and Mark -6km. surprising commitment from "new" crocodiles

  • Feb 4 the 2008  - route dinner dance - James comes back in bakkie to look for me in the dark,  

which tells you something of the character and personality of James.

Feb 2008 - james told me that he ran a PB in tonight's time trials - something that became regular after that. 

Feb 2008 - Camping at Hillcrest marathon with runners assistance programme -J ames ordering take aways at Kentucky "Jan I am having 3 pieces and chips - what are you having" - I replied same - and you Mark- replied same and 2 hamburgers - ask Mark he's here tonight

  • March 2008 - Zululand ultra-ulundi to ngoma left 3am got home 7 pm - James learnt of this ultra in Brazo's words "I experienced it first hand, the start was chaotic, KM markers incorrect, no water, no medals and no transport back to the start"

  • May 2008 - leads crocodile bus as driver - with flag that wife Cheryl made for us - this happened regularly after that

  • Sept 2008 - James, Mark and families potjie at my house - teach these "engelsmanne" to make a dinkum mutton potjie.

Jan 1 st 2009 - partners Poskantoor, Dalena and James with family on bicycles. Tells me this this is a very close family.

  • Feb 2009 Sunday - Weekend Tiger fishing at Jozini dam. Colt heat seizes on way back at Hluhlwe Who to phone as have boat and bakkie to tow back? -James and his foreman Tinus tow bakkie back to Empangeni - Imagine that as you are sitting down for Sunday lunch, you get a phone call for this kind of help. Again tells you something of the Mcalister family. James was the one I phoned first - 

Some Crocodiles will be happy, others sad to hear that after 12 years and 444,000 km traded the Colt in on a Navara. I got R22, 000 for her and my brother says I was lucky.

  • September 2009 - Saw James at Methodist church evening service, something that became regular after that. This surprised me, James I now apologize to you for thinking like that at the time.

    2010 - Here we are -James hit the Crocodile running scene with a bang - Starting running at age of 50 - he became a regular member of the afternoon and other training groups after that.

He has run 3 Comrades marathons, this year improving to Bill Rowan medal sub 9 hours. Also - 100 milers, longest day circuit-longest night circuit- many ultras and other races-winning many prizes, mostly as 1 st master on the way. Took over the runners assistance programme from me with his normal gusto-appointed to the UAC committee serving with passion and elected to vice chairman , due to have taken over from Sonia as Chairman next year. He is a great loss to this club, of that there is no doubt. It would take me all night to tell youn what he has done for this club, like having his trailer painted in club colours etc etc.
Finally To Cheryl, James and kids, we wish you the best with your Relocation to Pretoria and the future. I cannot end better than by quoting Janice "James is a kind, generous and warm hearted person".

Cathy Brown
Next is the better half of the Brown family. I wonder how many Crocodiles know that not only is Cathy Brown a founder member, but also has run 7 Comrades marathons 2 in Empangeni ac (EAC) colours and 5 in Umhlathuze (UAC) colours. I did not know "Kate" well in the EAC days as she does not drink much -and those were my drinking days - I only associated with drinkers - like her husband Mike.

Again my logbooks reveal that in those first two Comrades in EAC colours, she finished behind me. Then in her first Comrades in Umhlathuze colours I challenged her beforehand and said to her " Kate it is about time that you gave me a carrot in Comrades. Sadly my logbooks reveal that in all her Comrades in Croc colours she came in before me. So now you know why I walk around with 5 well deserved carrots in you know where.

Cathy and Mike have won the first club husband and wife home in Comrades a few times.
What is also not so well known is that Cathy together with a few other runners like Anthony Holmes, Richard Wiggill, and Glenda Badenhorst started the first Crocodile Morning training group. Another founder member here tonight, Bruce Grierson, Might argue that he was part of that first group, but feedback is that he only put in a few "guest appearances". Another Crocodile that might argue similarly but appeared even less is her husband Mike.
Cathy is an all-round, talented sportswoman, gaining higher colours in hockey - when she says a few words afterwards, she can tell us how she met Mike, and I suspect it is through hockey.
But the most respect I have gained for Cathy is for her role as mother to her kids and wife to Mike. 

Cathy we wish your family all the best with your relocation to Durban and for the future

Mike Brown

Again I wonder how many members know that Mike Brown is a founder member, has run 8 Comrades marathons excelled at hockey and cricket. Being elected as captain of his team in both latter sports.

I have known Mike for a long time, before he started running. In those days he played cricket with Anthony Holmes, who boarded with me at the time. They had won the cricket league and were parting at the cricket club. Again it was in my drinking days so I did not wait for a second invite to join them. At a party in the late EAC vice chairman Bruce Hanson's house where Mike got involved with drinking with me -FATAL error. Cathy told afterwards that the first thing Mike did when they got home was to decorate the lounge suite.

Mike ran his first Comrades in 1999 in EAC colours, I suspect much to the influence of Anthony Holmes. This was before computerized logbooks , so I had to look up my manual logbooks They revealed that at the time I was the only EAC member that had run a 100 miler I had then cohearced Anthony to run the inaugural midlands 100 miler, on which I seconded him. Anthony on his part cohearced not only Mike but a group of EAC members including Mike , Chris Moller, Paul Kennedy , Babara Chocrane, Marie Liebenberg and Mara van Rooyen to do the midlands. As I seconded Mara I could observe how lucky they were to do it in a group and stick together to nearly the end-whereas the six 100 miler I had done was by myself. They won the first club team home in the race for EAC.. Barbara coming in second.

I will never forget the look on Mikes face near the finish, walking in the middle of Pietermarizburg, hand in hand with second Cathy. I shouted from across the street "how is it going Mike?" He looked left at me and straight ahead, left at me and straight ahead- no answer.-not a word. The only thing Mike knew about his surroundings was his hand in Cathy's.
Mike served as road captain for EAC and in 2001 went drama of breaking away from EAC and founding a new club.

At the founders meeting of the Umhlathuze athletic club held at my house on 18 September 2001, Mike was elected as the club's first road captain.
In later years when Chairman Hennie Nolte suddenly resigned, Mike acted as chairman until the club's next AGM.  He opened a sports shop at his home and offered many specials to Crocodile on running shoes over the years.

I have been fortunate to have fished with Mike over the years. A nightmare memory is fishing for bass at the Carstens farm in Thuba, where Mike caught a bass twice the size of my largest.
Mikes times in his first Comrades indicated to me that he had the talent to become one of the selected few, 2.5% of Comrades runners who run silver medal, sub 7.5 hours, if he trained properly. Sadly to me, despite many discussions with Mike he never trained for and attempted silver due to other sporting and work commitments.

We wish Mike, Cathy and kids all of the best for the future!
Lastly: Mike if one day you decide to go for silver please let me know.