alsoran runners Jack the Gnome

Jack the gnome
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In June 2006, while walking through the gardening section of the Shoprite/Checkers store at Gateway, Umhlanga, a particular garden gnome was spotted.  My daughter Heather thought that it would just be SO cool to buy it.  Well we figured if a 16 year old teenager thought it was cool to walk around carrying a garden gnome, then who were we to argue.  And so, the gnome was purchased and tagged along wherever we went.  We did get a few strange looks when we walked into pubs and restaurants with said gnome in tow.  Already attracting a fair amount of attention we decided that we should give this gnome a name.  Many names were thrown around, many jokes were made but eventually someone said “Jack”, I think referring to “Jack Daniels”.  It was simple enough, we loved it and henceforth the gnome became “Jack the Gnome”.

He tagged along to the Comrades Expo where he was tattoo’d with the Comrades logo and the year (2006).  Someone bought him one of those amabeadiebeadie bandanas which he sported proudly. 

Come race day and Jack was spotted at various points on route.  He then waited with the rest of the support crew at the gazebo for the Fish Hoek runners to come through.  When FHACers Russell Mackintosh and Kim Wettergreen passed, Jack was handed over to Russell and together with Kim, crossed the finish line at Comrades.  Jack had just became the first garden gnome in history to finish the Comrades Marathon!  Needless to say, there was a fair amount of media coverage.  I imagine the cameraman must’ve been thinking that the day was way too long because he was now seeing garden gnomes on his screen.

Jack the gnome finishing Comrades
Jack finishing Comrades with Kim Wettergreen (left) and Russell Mackintosh (right)
Jared and Jack
Matching outfits!  Jack poses with young Jared van Eck at the pre-Comrades breakfast in Durban

Since his rise to fame in 2006, Jack has been spotted at many races all over the country.  Jack attempted Comrades in 2007 (sporting his Fish Hoek colours) but broke his feet and elbow and is recorded as a DNF.  Later that year, Jack visited the island of St Helena as part of the Festival of Running event.  Unfortunately, Jack was injured once again, he lost his head, then smashed his face.  Running repairs were made but it was decided that there was too much risk letting Jack travel back to South Africa.  Jack was allowed temporary residence at Anne’s Restaurant on the Island.  He remained there for over a year until he was “sprung” and returned to South Africa.  He underwent a makeover (Extreme Makeover Gnome Edition) and has recently reappeared on the running scene. 

While out running, should you spot a gnome on the side of the road, don’t worry, you are not hallucinating, it’s probably just Jack out there supporting!


Keywords: Jack the gnome, garden gnome
Internal links: Comrades Expo
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website



Copyright Nikki Campbell 2009
alsoran@webafrica.org.za