Lenn Smith Race

The Lenn Smith round the campus race is for both runners and walkers and has always had participation as its focus. This is the spirit is which the event has been organised over the years. The race is for all post-graduate students and academic and support staff at Wits. Typically, 80% of the field walk while the serious runners compete for personal and Departmental team prizes.

In 1967, Lenn, who was in the Metallurgy workshop, organised a type of athletic/swimming event for Metallurgy staff and post-graduate students. Then in 1968, through Lenn's connections to the Physical Sciences Workshop, Chemistry was invited to compete in a running race against Metallurgy. The race started at what is now the Origins Centre, but was then the site of the Metallurgy workshop. The race went down Yale Road, down Empire Road then up past the Gas Works and back to the start. About 20 competitors competed in the first event and this race can be viewed as the start of the Lenn Smith event. Tea and cake were served after the race for the participants.

After Lenn retired in 1969, Chem Dept staff and the Physics workshop took over the organisation of race. Steve van der Schyff who headed the workshop provided race marshals etc. and I coordinated the timing/advertising for the race. The race then grew in size over the years as other Schools joined in. As the race grew in size The Varsity Kudus running club was roped to assist as the support team to aid with the race start and finish, while the workshop arranged the marshals. Later the race moved to the Wits track (now the Science stadium) but with the route still off campus. However, due to the increase in traffic on Empire Road the race moved to take place totally on the Wits campus. The route took in both East and West campuses. When the Science Stadium was built a new starting and ending point was needed and the race then moved to the Bozzoli field, and most recently to the Wits Club area.

After Steve van der Schyff retired in 2002 John Augustine took over the Physical Sciences workshop and the organising of the race marshals. John retired 3 years ago bur the marshalling and help is still provided by the Workshop with Tshepo Mashoene how being the 'organiser'. Over the years, the race has been organised by a small committee whom have all come from Wits staff who have belonged to the Varsity Kudus Running Club. This is still true today. The race has gone on continuously since 1988, except for the two COVID years'

The number of participants has grown from about 20 in 198 to over 400 in one event; typically about 250 -300 participate. Currently the race is 5 km in length and follows the Wits Park Run course. Before 2020, a different route of 4km was used (so that's why the winners times were so much better in the past).

2023 Race

The 2023 edition of the Lenn Smith run/walk was held this year within the Wits Wellness program. This meant moving the race from its historical date -- a Thursday during the September holiday break to a Friday. The event took place on Friday 8th September 2023, starting and ending at the Olives and Plates area on West campus. The race started at 12.30 pm when the participants set off on the Wits 5 Km Park-run course. This is not as easy course as it goes up the steep hills on the West campus -- twice! Nevertheless, all of the 232 who entered finished the event.

We were fortunate to have Lenn attend the race and give out the prizes to the winners this year. What is remarkable is that Lenn will turn 100 next month. May be all be so fortunate to live such a long and rich life. We hope to see Lenn next year where he will once again give out the race prizes.

The organising team would like to thank Hewlett Packard for Prizes and the Wits leasing Company (Innovent) for providing the watering point and refreshments.


The men’s team of three were from CHMT (Chemical and Metallurgy) while the women’s team of three were from Chemistry.
Neil Stacey	        CHMT	        21.00
Nkhetheni Ratshihule	Services	21.05
Willy Chabalala	         CHMT	21.05

CHMT Men's team: Neil Stacey, Willy Chabalala, David Nkhoesa

Hlogi Mphahlele	        Chem	27.08
Memory Zimuwandeyi	Chem	27.40
Sarah Wright     	Chem	28.55

Chemistry Women's Team: 
   Hlogi Mphahlele, Memory Zimuwandeyi, Sarah Wright

Most participants: CHMT

Report by Neil Coville.

The top 100 finishers can be found here and see this great video

Report by Neil Coville

2022 Race

The annual Lenn Smith Race around campus took place on 15 September 2022. The race started at 12:30 from the Alumni House at the bottom of West Campus. This 5km fun run/walk followed the Wits Parkrun route. The organising team would like to thank the following:

Prize winners

Men's results
Neil Stacey	CHMT	        23.39
Clifford Maine	Research Office	25.03
Muzi Gumede	Chem	        25.07

Women's results 
Lerato Mokoloko	        Chem	26.18	
Malehlogonolo Mphahlele	Chem	26.52	
Sabetha Mapetla	        Chem	28.24	

Team Results
Men: CHMT (Neil Stacey/ Michael Enemyo/ Josias van de Merwe)
Women: CHEM (Lerato Mokoloko/Malehlogonolo Mphahlele/ Sabetha Mapetla)

The results of the top 100 runners can be found here

2020 and 2021 races

The 2020 and 2021 races were cancelled due to COVID restrictions.

2019 Race

The annual Lenn Smith Race around campus takes place on 05 September 2019, at 12:30 (registration starts at 11:45), starting from the Wits Club (Note the new start venue). This 5 km fun run/walk follows the Wits parkrun route and is open to all Wits staff and postgraduate students. Walkers are most welcome -- participation rather than time is most important. Prizes will be handed out but please bring your own water for the run/walk.

Date: 05 September 2019
Time: 11:45 (registration)
Venue: Wits Club (Wits parkrun start)
Enquiries: mark.dowdeswell@wits.ac.za

2016 race

The race took place on 1 September with over 200 enthusiastic participants. Excellent weather greeted the start of spring. The overall winner of the race was Chris Cherry from the School of Statistics and Actuarial Science in 13:48. Tebogo Moletsane from the School of Chemistry was the first woman home.

PositionMen Women
1.Chris Cherry, Statistics and Actuarial ScienceTebogo Moletsane, Chemistry
3.Mike Jones, MathematicsZikhona Tetana, Chemistry
3.Yuval Genga, Electrical and Information Engineering Carol Crosley, Registrar's Division

Other prizes

Race results of the first 50 people in are available here.

They're off! Mark Dowdeswell harangued everyone to start
Enjoying a beautiful day The winner



Map of race

View Larger Map

2014 Race

The Annual Lenn Smith Race took place on 11 September 2014. A hot spring day brought out 382 staff and postgrad students. Lenn Smith was unable to be with us personally but sent a message of support.

The winner of the men's race was Ntutu Letseka from the School of Molecular and Cell Biology. Francesca Parrini from the School of Animal Plant and Environmental Sciences. The top men's team was from the School of Chemistry, and the top women's team from the Evolutionary Studies Institute.

First men home

Ntutu LetsekaMCB14:35
Jonathan GillDevelopment Office15:25
Chris CherryStatistics and Actuarial Studies15:30
Edward SteereElectrical and Information Engineering16:40

Best male team

Chemistry: Sanele Mazibulo, Thumelo Phaalamohlaka, Nilson Mogadi, Muzi Gumedi

First women home

Francesca ParriniAPES19:30
Alexandra UhlESI21:50
Mmaopiemang Sesing-LetsikeHuman and Community Development22:50
Celeste JohnsonPhysics23:50

Best female team

Evolutionary Studies Institute: Alexandra Uhl, Aurore Val, Kimberly Chapelle, Victoria Williams

Best Participation


Detailed results

The top 50 results will be posted here

2013 Race

The 2013 Lenn Smith Race was held on Thursday 5 September, a beautiful spring day, with 250 participants. The highlight of the race was Lenn Smith's participation. At the age of 89, a few months before his 90th birthday, he completed the course in just over an hour. Our youngest participant was almost 85 years younger, we we had a real age spread!

The winner of the race for the second time, was Jonathan Gill from the Development Office in 14:52. The first woman home was Caroline Wostmann from the School of Accounting in 16:25. The School of Molecular and Cell Biology won the team prizes for both men (Ntutu Letseka, Gavin Owen, Sipho Mhlambi, Bradley Peter) and women (Maxine Pinto, Helen Letseka and Valerie). Finance won the prize for the greatest participation. The top 75 runners can be found be found here.

The 2012 was run Thursday 6 September 2012.

Spring rains greeted the run, but over 200 people turned up for a successful run.

The 2012 results can be found here here

2011 Race

The 2011 Race took place on Thursday, 15 September 2011. A new record field of over 410 ran and walked around the campus. We saw new top runners: Mathebete Mathabata from Social Sciences was the first man and Lydia Monyepao from Sports Admin was the first woman. Chemistry and Social Sciences were the first men's and women's team home. The Library was the unit with the most participants and Health Sciences the top faculty! Anayo Choudhury from Bioinformatics won the coveted last person home prize.

The full list of results can found found here

2010 Race

The 2010 Race was run Thursday, 2 September 2010. The race started and finished at the Walter Milton Oval, on the East Campus Sports fields. (see map

2009 Race

The 2009 race took place on Thursday, 3 September 2009. 336 runners and walkers took part. The race started and finished at the Charles Skeen Stadium.


Results of the top 130 places. Summary of previous race results can be found here

Results of the top 130 places. Summary of previous race results can be found here


The sponsors of the race are: