South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka Breaks World 50km Record In Gqeberha
South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka stepped up to 50km in style on Sunday (6), running 2:40:13* to break the men’s world record for the distance at the Nedbank #Runified 50km – a World Athletics Elite Label road race – in Gqeberha.
The three-time Olympian has been running marathons for more than a decade but made history in his very first 50km race, following the pacemaker through halfway in 1:21:03 and then breaking away after 35km (1:52:53) with a 2:56 kilometre to put himself on world record schedule.
The 2019 world marathon fifth-placer finisher held that pace on the 10km loop course, running a negative split (1:19:10 for the second half) after a solo run to victory. He won by almost four minutes and improved the inaugural world 50km record of 2:42:07 that had been set by Ethiopia’s Ketema Negasa at the same event last year. South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka breaks the world 50km record in Gqeberha.
“I’m tired,” Mokoka said with a smile in his post-race interview. “It’s a long way and I don’t know how I’m going to feel later, but I enjoyed it.”
The performance further demonstrates Mokoka’s impressive range. The 37-year-old has claimed numerous national titles in his career so far, from 1500m up to the marathon. His marathon best is 2:07:40 from Shanghai in 2015, while he set the South African half marathon record when running 59:36 to place seventh at the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia.
Tete Dijana was runner-up to Mokoka in Gqeberha, clocking 2:44:08, with their compatriot Edward Mothibi – the 2019 Comrades Marathon winner – third in 2:45:27.
Given the increasing popularity of 50km road races, the decision to add the distance to the list of events for which world records are recognised was made at the World Athletics Council meeting in Tokyo in July. Negasa’s 2:42:07 was then ratified as the inaugural men’s world 50km record at the start of this year, while the 3:04:24 run by South Africa’s Irvette van Zyl in the same 2021 event was ratified as the world 50km record for a women-only race.
That time had been the target for athletes in Sunday’s Nedbank #Runified 50km and the women’s field went off with intent, the leaders passing 10km in 35:51 and half way in 1:31:34.
Ethiopia’s Amelework Fikadu Bosho later dropped her rivals and although she was not able to maintain that world record pace, she hung on for a dominant women’s race win in 3:04:58.
Kenya’s Shelmith Muriuki was second in 3:08:30, while Van Zyl was third in 3:13:23.
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure
By World Athletics