Athletics 14.1.2018 08:55 am

Ultra-distance legend Piet Vorster dies

Piet Vorster's 1979 Comrades win. Photo: The Marathon.

Piet Vorster's 1979 Comrades win. Photo: The Marathon.

In 1979, he famously held off the legendary Bruce Fordyce to win the ‘up run’ of the Comrades.

One of South Africa’s toughest and most versatile endurance athletes has died, with Piet Vorster losing a battle to motor neuron disease.
The news was revealed by fellow former Comrades Marathon winners Bruce Fordyce and Shaun Meiklejohn, who shared their condolences on social media on Saturday.

Vorster earned four Comrades gold medals, securing victory in 1979 when he held off challenges from distance running legends Johnny Halberstadt and Fordyce to set what was then an ‘up’ run record of 5:45:02.

He went on to complete the race 14 times before retiring from the event in 1996, at the age of 45.

Showcasing his versatility, Vorster also took third place at the Dusi Canoe Marathon in 1980, earning a podium spot in a race won by river paddling icon Graeme Pope-Ellis.

“He will always be remembered as a fine athlete and a true gentleman,” Meiklejohn, who won Comrades in 1995, posted on twitter.

“My deepest sympathies to his family and friends.”

Nine-time Comrades winner Fordyce also bid farewell to the former multi-code star, sharing a photo of himself with Vorster and Halberstadt after the 1979 race.

“So long ‘captain my captain’,” Fordyce posted.

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