The message being more important than the messenger means that normally talking about me is not big in my life. But as I am creating the messages here, maybe a little about me adds something;  enough at least to know that I have something to say about the Comrades Marathon even though anyone can really talk about it.

My name is Paul Vorwerk. Comrades is a rich strand in my life. It glitters, glistening.

My Comrades history is on the Comrades Website, in all its glory or otherwise. Running is very public;  age, time and position  all too public.

Below is an excerpt of that Comrades “history”. It tells a little story. But it is only a small part of my Comrades story. Its the same with all Comrades runners – the story is bigger than their time, age and position.

To show what I mean, I added another column. Its an assessment of who won the contest –  Comrades or me. its just a fun thing about how I engaged with it and it points to the different things we go to through to get to the start line, and the contest on race day. Life is always just beyond the numbers you see.

Running is also other than just Comrades and that is more of the running story.

Year Direction Age Time Pos Who won
1990 Up 36 09:58:05 5960 Me
1991 Down 37 08:57:30 3813 Me
1992 Up 38 08:22:01 1879 Me
1993 Down 39 07:27:01 917 Me
1994 Up 40 08:37:28 2093 Me
1995 Down 41 09:59:18 5287 Comrades
1996 Up 42 07:55:23 1322 Comrades
1997 Down 43 08:34:18 2216 Draw
1998 Up 44 09:50:02 4810 Comrades
1999 Down 45 08:48:43 2661 Draw
2000 Up 46 08:22:09 1892 Comrades
2003 Down 49 10:18:30 6058 Draw
2005 Down 51 DNF/ DNS
2010 Down 56 86 km
2011 Up 57 11:43:54 Both

A frank assessment says I lost all of them. I mean my best placing overall was 917 … who can be happy coming nearly 1000th? One could easily ask, “Why run if you know you have no chance at winning or worse, have a better chance of not even making the 12-hour cut-off?” There is a rumble of truth in that so I had to invent my own kind of winning.

Another way of winning involves first getting to the start line and if possible getting to the end before 12 hours. With that established, winning is also about getting there in a time appropriate to the training done; and then about having done appropriate training to the best of one’s ability and without excuses for not being able to run, (training isn’t a test of creative-excuse-creation) that training is done according to the right methods and sure, acknowledging one’s circumstances; and, of allowing the full Comrades experience to blossom.

So with all of that implied, some of my runs have gone well and maybe more will, but Comrades so far is the winner.

Beyond the winning and losing is the real Comrades story.


It’s quite hard for me to write for two reasons that I will mention here. One is that whenever I write, thousands of ideas-thoughts-concepts-images-feelings and more need to be expressed at the same time. So it’s hard to pick one idea and write amid the clamour, harder still trying remember the ones I’m not writing.

Also I need to censor much of what I write.  I write the bits that I think others can understand. Behind them lie layers of ideas more ethereal and less based in everyday rationality – the world of the mystic. If occasionally readers don’t understand what I am saying, maybe my censorship slipped.

More than just running

Together with Comrades my running has consisted of many shorter runs and a few longer ones including my all time favourite Tuffer Puffer. With them came many runs unmeasured of marvellous mystical miles.

As I ran my definition of running grew. Running was racing and much, much more: managing ones capability over various distances, eating, drinking, dehydration, laughing, walking, crawling,  swearing, spitting, meeting friends, vomiting and starting all over again, sharing experiences and drinking beer. Later it come to include hopping, sleeping, staggering, espressos, cappuccinos, pushing the limits, falling, tripping, torn muscles, ragged breathing, falling off mountain trails, making friends, fondling fynbos, flirty with the stars, a glorious glint in the eye, a sweaty affair with the sun (the late summer sun as well as the one that lit my inner life and made me use sun-block on my bum) and much, much more.

Freed from running flat out, I ran out of the physiology, methodolgy and confines of training, racing and the numbersof running, out of logbooks and into a fulfilling experience.

Much of that I recorded in my book Mystical Miles: Running, living, beaming

Maybe that’s enough of this.

You can find out a little more about me at www.mysticalmiles.com