Tributes pour in from around the world for champion runner David Snyders


DAVID Snyders, who died yesterday morning at the age of 63, was the South African Amateur Athletic Board’s marathon record-holder in 1988.

On that day in 1988, race-walk champion Colin Anders died. He was 54.

Snyders, pictured centre, is best remembered for his achievements in the SA marathon in Strandfontein where he had clocked the record time of 2 hours 20 minutes and 5 seconds.

(Pictured left is Charles Jonas and Kosie Botha)

Snyders won the SA marathon in 1987 and 1988.

David Snyders was a genuine road-running champion.

This he had done on the back of self-training while being an athlete at the Trafalgar Amateur Athletic Club.

His time, given the conditions on the windy Strandfontein in-and-out course on the False Bay coast, stacked up decently against the world-leading mark of 2 hours and 8 minutes held by runners such as Rob de Castella and Alberto Salazar.


Road running aficionado Colin Jeftha had praise for Snyders’ achievement.

“Snyders’ time is quite significant bearing in mind the lack of competition. He ran that race on his own. The competition wasn’t there for him. He was in better shape than the 2:20. On the day he had, at the very least, a 2:15 in him given the lack of course facilities and the southeaster which didn’t help as the wind had blown across the runners,” said Jeftha who resides in Sydney, Australia.

Another expat, Stuart Hendricks in Melbourne, Australia writes, “Received the sad news from Cape Town early this morning from a mutual friend that David Snyders passed away very suddenly. With utmost respect to Marlene and the family, we send our sincere condolences to the family at this very sad time as it must have come as a huge shock.

David Snyders, right, with John September and Owen Machelm, centre.

“David will be fondly remembered as a fantastic athlete and equally legendary in rugby for Lansdowne Rugby Club at Cities and Suburban during the SACOS period under Mr Ben Groepes who was also president of Lansdowne RFC at the time. We were a very close-knit bunch growing up in Lansdowne at the time and I can vouch that David was one of the most determined individuals in his training to achieve his goals and did not take a backward step to anyone. I had great pleasure watching him compete over those years from high school through to winning many a marathon in his later years. Furthermore, I have the deepest respect for him after he also named his eldest son STUART.  RIP David. Till we meet again my friend. Stuart, Christine, and family.”

Great school athlete

Former SA 400m champion and record holder who was closely connected to Snyders at the Vikings and Trafalgar Amateur Athletic Club, Mark Jacobs said; “David was a very hard working athlete often running in training for miles without support. He was also a great school athlete winning many long distance races. David lost out in pitting himself against the best because of apartheid.”

Snyders is also remembered for his duels with Owen Machelm, John September and Martin Saayman on the road.

John September, Martin Saayman and David Snyders.

The Wembley 15km road race stands out as an event dominated by these four runners.

“He always gave his best to the sport during the SACOS days.  David was always a formidable athlete,” says September, a past winner of the Wembley 15km race.

Saayman, also a past winner of the event, said, “He was my training partner for a short time in Alex Marshall’s training group comprising of Joseph Gysman and Sammy Claassen.”

Saayman remembers Snyders as being a top track athlete in the senior men’s 5000m and 10 00m races.

One of David Snyders’ many scrapbook cuttings.

Snyders was a pupil at the Oaklands High School in Racecourse Road, Lansdowne.  Here he excelled in the shorter distance, the 1500m, becoming the Western Province Senior Schools Sports Union’s champion in the event in 1976.


Road running pundit Allan Parrott said, “I am devastated by the sad news of the passing away of yet another runner and friend, David Snyders in less than a week. I have known David Snyders as a fellow runner in the eighties and numerous times I was the manager of WP teams with Snyders a team member. He was a top runner, but never a diva. His times and the consistency in which he delivered performances, compared favourably to the rest of the world at the time. So, if he wanted to be a diva, it would have been justified, but he was a down-to-earth guy. He was coached by Mr Alex Marshall at Trafalgar and later by Andrew Bell at Celtics, and I always steered away from discussions around his running and many a time our conversations would be on a personal level. I specifically remembered the one story he told me about his wife who had to race from the train at the station to the waiting taxi, so that she can be one of the few off the train who could get a seat in the taxi in order to be home early enough to be a mom and a housewife (cooking and cleaning). And this racing was done when she was highly pregnant with their second child! In this story lies many a truth, but I would like to highlight two; the way apartheid touched our dignity and the support of a loving wife to her champion running husband. David, gaan jou goed!”

The list of marathon winners:

1974: Johannes Brandt (WP) 2 hours 37 minutes 5 seconds

1975: John Kriel (WP) 2: 20: 42

1976 and 1977: No marathons due to student uprisings in South Africa

1978: Brian Jeggels (EP) 2: 32: 47

1979: Henry de Grass (WP) 2: 45:30

1980: Devan Pillay (Natal) 2: 42:03

1981: Henry de Grass (WP) 2: 2:27: 09

1982: Nico Vermeulen (Boland) 2: 28: 44

1983: Nico Vermeulen (Boland) 2: 27: 12

1984: Tobias Philander (WP) 2:45: 01

1985: Freek Heynes (Boland) 2: 29:27

1986: Henry de Grass (WP) 2:32: 34

1987: David Snyders (WP) 2: 29: 19

1988: David Snyders (WP) 2: 20: 05

David Snyders as the athletics fraternity knew him.





3 thoughts on “Tributes pour in from around the world for champion runner David Snyders

  • August 21, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Dear Publisher, I attended Oaklands High from 1975 to matric in 1978 and saw David Snyders winning his 800m and 1500m races at the Athlone Stadium. He inspired me to such a degree that I started to participate in road races many years later. May his soul rest in peace. – Julian Paul.

    • January 4, 2021 at 8:34 pm

      Dear Publisher, David Snyders was a few years older than me. I was at Myhof Primary, right next to Oaklands High where David was an absolute hero…
      I remember watching him train. Such dedication. I also remember Christy Davids coming to one of David’s training sessions and giving him some tips (I speak under correction, but I think Christy studied in the USA at the time). We were in awe…
      I also remember David telling us the story of him being stabbed….close to his heart…and almost dying. He showed us the wound. We were shocked but glad that he survived.
      Many years later I had the privilege of teaching and coaching his son Stuart at Cedar High. David came to watch him run a few times and I could see the pride on his face. Stuart showed great potential…
      A great loss… Denied the opportunity of showcasing his full potential by apartheid…
      Go well, David. RIP.
      Reggie Seekoei

  • June 1, 2019 at 10:12 am

    Great article Clement. A true shock to hear of fellow club mate. David was definitely a guy of action and not words. His action, was evident when he raced, as that was where he expressed himself to be the determined guy I came to know. If he spoke more than 10 words in a Trafs team meeting it was a lot; he left the talking to John [September]. My deepest condolences to his family.
    Go well, David.


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