#TuksSport: The late Prof Vollie Spies made a real difference as a Chairperson of TuksRoadRunning

Posted on March 01, 2023

It is often said that one run can change your day, and many runs can change your life. This is undoubtedly true of the late Prof Vollie Spies.

She abided by the motto that everyone was born to run. It did not matter if you did not run as efficiently or as fast as others. Just run. 

"Prof Vollie" certainly did. She completed 32 international marathons, 21 consecutive Comrades Marathons, and 11 Two Oceans Marathons. She never ran, only to make up the numbers. She wanted to win, and she did. She won her age group category twice at the Comrades Marathon and once at the Two Oceans Marathon. "Prof Vollie" notched up some international victories. 

Sadly, her race is run. "Prof Vollie" passed away over the weekend after surgery to set a broken collarbone. She suffered a pulmonary embolism. 

"Prof Vollie" was an Associate Professor at the Department of Social Work and Criminology at the University of Pretoria. She obtained a Master's degree in Social Work from Tuks in 1988 and a Doctorate from the University of South Africa in 1997. 

She worked as a private practitioner in sexual abuse and was often called upon as an expert witness in sexual abuse court cases. In addition, she has published numerous articles on sexual abuse and has presented papers at various national and international conferences.

According to Jet Moses at TuksAthletics, she was instrumental in getting Bestmed to sponsor TuksRoadRunning’s premier event now known as the 'Bestmed TuksRace' for the past 11 years.

"'To me, Prof Vollie' and TuksRoadRunning became synonymous over the last decade. As Chairperson, she took the club to new heights. She was always quick to solve any obstacles we faced as a club. Her legacy will continue to inspire us, as she touched us in a particular way."

Schalk Spies said he would remember his mom as a dynamic woman. 

"She did not believe in half measures. It did not matter what she did; she always gave 100%. She would go all out to make a difference in children's lives. When she had put her mind to doing something for children, the glass was never half empty; it was always half full. 

"From when I can remember, she was a sports fanatic. Sitting still was never an option. After my dad had died, she seriously started to run. She must have come close to running 1 000 0000 kilometres. For nearly every kilometre she ran, there was a story to be told about joy, tears, friendships, and hardships. 

"When knee injuries forced her to put running shoes away for good, she took up cycling. She completed two Argus races and was part of a relay team that did the Ironman triathlon.

"But it has never only been about running to her. My mom was a walking encyclopedia when it came to sports. She was incredibly passionate about rugby, actually the Blue Bulls. You were on thin ice when you dared say something derogatory about the Bulls. There was that one game at Loftus where she nearly 'klapped' someone for insulting Naas Botha. Saying something bad about Joost van der Westhuizen was also something you did at your own risk."

Being called "Vollie" happened when she was a learner at Laerskool Bokfontein in the North West. Apparently, the school Principal called her "Volstruis". This means, as a term of endearment, was changed to "Vollie".

- Author Wilhelm De Swardt

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