Mr Dudley Wallendorf is not quite sure, but when he sets off the runners in the junior 3000m at the interhouse athletics meeting on Thursday afternoon, it will be, he thinks, the 23rd year in a row that he has done it, and well over the 30th year of starting in his teaching career, which included 14 years at Athlone Boys’ High School before he came to Jeppe.
“I was the starter at Athlone before I came here,” he said, “but when I got to Jeppe there was a teacher already doing the job and I only took over a few years later.”
Since then he has sent the boys on their way at every home athletics meeting, and every swimming gala, and has done duty at one or two interhighs as well.
“It’s all gone by quite quickly and looking back I have enjoyed it,” he said. “I taught myself how to do it and I think by now I am doing a fairly good job. You judge a starter by the number of false starts in his races, and I don’t have many of those.
“I’ve been doing it for so long that the boys are used to me now. They pick up my rhythm, I suppose, and it usually goes quite smoothly.”
This will be the 112th Interhouse athletics meeting – the oldest annual activity at the school and it became the Dudley Wallendorf Shield when he retired three years ago. It was named after him in recognition for his service to the sport, as a starter, and also for all the years when, as housemaster of Tsessebe, he organised their athletics team, and won the title more times than any other house has.
And he will get it all going again when he fires the first shot in this year’s meeting, at 2.55pm on Thursday afternoon.