The best 5km time trial in Johannesburg

The most well-known time trial in Joburg: the Rockies Zoo Lake TT

Started on October 20, 1984, the Rockies 5km Time Trial is one of the most-loved and popular Saturday runs in the northern suburbs of Joburg.

At its helm is Richard Wilkinson, who with his late wife Val, Rockies member Jeff Mazel, and the Comrades and coaching great, Don Oliver, started the time trial. Richard is still at the Zoo Lake parking lot every Saturday at 7.30am, whatever the weather, and has timed the likes of running legends Bruce Fordyce and Frith van der Merwe. Richard times each time trial – rain, wind or sun – and was joined every Saturday by Val, who passed away in 2014.

The original route changed in 1992 as the finish was on a field, which become soggy when it rained. There were often events on the field too, which disrupted the finish.

Other well-known runners who have been regulars at the time trial include Matthews Motsharateu, Jerry Modiga, Sonja Laxton, Bernard Rose, Martin Dreyer (who ran with a canoe) and Simon Gear.

Time trial founders Jeff, Val, Richard and Don

Course records

Men – Old Course                                                         Ladies – Old Course

04/08/90    Matthews Motsharateu       15:38      28/04/90      Cheryl Schultz             19:42

11/05/91    Jerry Modiga                       15:37           23/02/91      Frith van der Merwe    17:17

Men – New Course                                                     Ladies – New Course 

14/03/92 Jerry Modiga                            15:15          03/04/93     Anthea James                  18:37

23/01/02 Ashley Scheepers                   15:10            11/09/93      Ronel Scheepers             18:01

05/01/02 Samuel Sekomphi                     14:59         05/02/94     Ronel Scheepers           17:59


The route

The run starts in the parking area and takes you up a steep hill toward the swimming pool then the tennis courts of the Zoo Lake Sports Club.

You loop around the courts twice before turning down Jan Smuts Avenue towards the Zoo Lake Bowling Club. Between 2km and 4km there are some gentle climbs and downhills which allow you to fully appreciate the pretty suburbia that surrounds you.

Don’t relax too much, too soon, though! There is still one hill that takes you back past the swimming pool to the parking area. Not an easy route, but the big, old trees that Johannesburg is known for provide welcome shade from the sun, and when you’re done, you may just feel like doing it again.