Tim Noakes in the Archives

21 Apr 2015
Emeritus Professor Tim Noakes
Emeritus Professor Tim Noakes holding a copy of Lore of Running.
21 Apr 2015

Following his recent retirement, Professor Tim Noakes, UCT Emeritus Professor of Exercise and Sports Science, donated his personal archives to Special Collections in UCT Libraries as a research resource. The formal signing of the Deed of Gift for the Tim Noakes Papers took place as part of UCT Libraries’ inaugural Research Engagement Evening on 17 April 2015 at which Professor Noakes was the guest speaker.

Noakes commenced his talk by characterising the library as the most sacred place in the university, being the repository of both old and new knowledge. In turn Noakes characterised research as a battle between the old and the new, between orthodoxy and unorthodoxy. Using examples of books that made breakthroughs as well as his own works and current research being done by his postgraduate students, he demonstrated the need for successful research to overthrow orthodoxy and received wisdom, even if, as in his own case, it meant proving oneself to be wrong.


Prof. Tim Noakes' signed Deed of Gift for the Tim Noakes Papers.

Prof. Tim Noakes' signed Deed of Gift for the Tim Noakes Papers.​


Noakes is co-founder of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, has published more than 500 scientific publications, has been cited more than 15 000 times in the scientific literature, has an H index of 66 and is rated an A1 scientist by the National Research Foundation of South Africa. Among his published works are Lore of Running, which is considered the “bible of the sport”, Rugby without Risk, Bob Woolmer’s Art and Science of Cricket co-written with the late Bob Woolmer, his scientific autobiography Challenging Beliefs and Waterlogged: The serious problem of overhydration in endurance sports. The Real Meal Revolution, co-authored with Jonno Proudfoot, David Grier and Sally-Ann Creed, launched in November 2013, has become the largest selling ebook in South African publishing history. His most recent book, Always Believe in Magic, co-authored with Kevin Musikanth and Jonathan Kaplan, describes the story behind the UCT Ikey Tigers rugby team’s miraculous comeback to win the 2014 Varsity Cup. 

Among the awards received by Noakes are the Order of Mapungubwe, Silver, from the President of South Africa for his “excellent contribution in the field of sports and the science of physical exercise” in 2004. In 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Research Foundation for his contribution to sports science research and in 2014 the Gold Medal of the Southern African Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Tim Noakes Papers housed in Special Collections, include iterations of his many publications and articles, thematic scrapbooks reflecting his research interests, and memoirs and memorabilia garnered over a lifetime dedicated to the science of sport. The papers are being arranged and a finding aid created so that the material can be made available for research. The collection augments other Special Collections holdings that document academic contributions to knowledge in a range of disciplines.

Article by Clive Kirkwood

Photos by Theresa Schoeman