Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist


Distance runners Mokoka and Dijana shine on the road

Mokoka climbed to second place in the all-time national marathon rankings.


Some of South Africa’s top long-distance runners delivered superb performances at home and abroad on Sunday morning, led by another remarkable effort from road running star Stephen Mokoka.

Taking fifth place at the Osaka Marathon in Japan, Mokoka clocked 2:06:42, crossing the line just nine seconds outside the long-standing national 42km record of 2:06:33 held by Gert Thys since 1999.

Personal best

The 38-year-old athlete sliced nearly a minute off his personal best of 2:07:40 set in Shanghai in 2015, as he climbed to second place in the all-time national marathon rankings.

Showcasing his consistency and his longevity, Mokoka dipped under 2:11:00 for the 14th year in a row over the classic distance.

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Meanwhile, in Gqeberha, Comrades Marathon champion Tete Dijana again flaunted his class, giving the 50km world record a shake at the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers ultra-distance race.

Dijana became the first South African athlete to run under 2:40:00 over the distance, crossing the line in 2:39:04 and smashing the national record of 2:40:13 set by Mokoka at the same race last year.

Road runner Tete Dijana
Tete Dijana, seen winning last year’s Comrades Marathon, broke the national 50km record in Gqeberha. Picture: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

He was just 21 seconds outside the unofficial world record of 2:38:43 clocked by American athlete CJ Albertson in San Francisco in October, which had not yet been ratified by international athletics authorities but had also not been scratched.

“This is a shock. I had my own race plan in the first half, and in the second half I just kept pushing,” Dijana said.

“I was tired at the end so I’m happy that I was able to fight for it.”

Women’s record

In the women’s race, Ethiopian athlete Emane Seifu Hayile shattered the world record of 3:04:24 held by Irvette van Zyl, completing the race in 3:00:30.

While American athlete Desiree Linden clocked 2:59:54 in April 2013, that result was achieved in a mixed gender race and was not considered for record purposes.

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road running Stephen Mokoka

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