by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – A WORLD 50km record that has stood for more than 30 years will be on the line when a host of local and international athletes go toe to toe in this month’s Nedbank Runified: Breaking Barriers race at the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality.
Aspirants include no less than seven Comrades Marathon champions.
The event is set for May 23 in the Eastern Province capital city.
A record set by the now-late Thompson Magawana, who ran 2 hours 43 minutes and 38 seconds on his way to winning the Two Oceans Marathon in 1988, is up for grabs.
In the men’s race, Comrades record holder, David Gatebe, will contest alongside former winners Bongmusa Mthembu, Edward Mothibi, Modibe Ludwick Mamabolo and Claude Moshiywa.
Most of the aspirants run under the famed Nedbank Running Club (NR).
“We have a very good field assembled for this race,” Nick Bester, NRC team manager, said.
“The course is flat and fast so I (am) confident that we can see something special on race day,” he added.
Adding to the anticipated fierce competition, some athletes have posted personal best times in recent weeks amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Favourite, Mothibi, ran his best of 2:16:48 at last year’s virtual Cape Town Marathon.
Gerda Steyn, the Comrades winner and record holder, was set to be the favourite in the women’s race, alongside Irvette Van Zyl, but they are under instructions not to finish as this is preparation for the
Olympics in July-August.
Charne Bosman, who took the Comrades title in 2016, will be among the contenders.
The current official ratified world record time for the women’s 50km race belongs to Britain’s Alyson Dixon.
She broke South African Frith Van der Merwe’s record, clocking 3:07:20 when taking the title in Brasov, Romania in 2019.
The International Association of Ultrarunners is yet to ratify the record of 2:59:54 set by American runner Des Linden recently.
– CAJ News