Jacques van der Westhuyzen
Head of Sport
2 minute read
6 Mar 2022
11:44 am

Mokoka breaks 50km world record in ultramarathon debut

Jacques van der Westhuyzen

The SA road running star completed the distance in a time of 2:40:13.

Stephen Mokoka wins the 50km race in Gqeberha on Sunday. Picture: Richard Pearce Photography

Distance runner Stephen Mokoka has broken the 50km world record at the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers ultramarathon in Gqeberha on Sunday.

Mokoka completed the distance, run in five 10km loops on Marine Drive, in 2:40:13 to become the world record holder in what was his ultramarathon debut. He was paced by local athlete Melikhaya Frans for the first 35km.

“It’s tough, I’m happy, it’s a long race,” said Mokoka afterwards.

“I spoke to some of the other guys (during the race), asking if I needed to push, am I still okay? These guys are used to those distances.”

Asked what it is about Gqeberha, where Mokoka has won eight out of 10 races, he said to much laughter: “I see the mayor is here, he must get me a house. It’s great racing here.”

Finishing in second and third in the men’s race were Tete Dijana and Edward Mothibi.

“Following the success of the first ultramarathon in 2021 and after months of planning, I put my neck out on the line to say that we would break a record for the second time, and that’s exactly what we did today,” said race director and Nedbank Running Club national manager, Nick Bester.

“We took the learnings from last year and ticked every box to make sure that all procedures and rules had been adhered to in order for our race to meet World Athletics standards.”  

In the women’s race, Irvette van Zyl missed out on breaking the world record she set last year at the same event.

After a fast start, Van Zyl (third) and Kenyan athlete Shelmith Muriuki (second) dropped out of the reckoning, allowing Amelework Bosho to take the victory in a time of 3:04:58, just outside Van Zyl’s time of 3:04:24 set last year.