UPDATE: Edward Mothibi wins first Comrades as Gerda Steyn breaks record
Local favourite Gerda Steyn stole the show on Sunday as she shattered the women’s record at the 94th edition of the Comrades Marathon, leading the charge with South African athletes produced sterling performances in KwaZulu-Natal.
After breaking clear of the rest of the women’s field shortly before the halfway mark, Steyn gradually extended her lead throughout the second half, crossing the line in 5:58:53 to secure her maiden victory in the 87km race between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
She finished 17th overall, ripping more than 10 minutes off the 13-year-old record of 6:09:23 held by Russia’s Elena Nurgalieva and becoming the first woman to dip under six hours on the ‘up’ run.
Steyn, who bagged a rare double after winning the Two Oceans ultra-marathon in Cape Town in April, completed the race well ahead of second-placed Russian Alexandra Morozova, who finished in 6:17:40 after winning a battle against Athletics South Africa in court this week to be cleared to participate.
Irish debutant Caitriona Jennings did well to hold on, taking third position in 6:24:12 after battling in the latter stages.
Meanwhile, Edward Mothibi stunned a quality line-up in the men’s race to win his first attempt at the ‘up’ run.
After slipping off the pace of defending champion Bongmusa Mthemba, Mothibi clawed his way back into contention up the notorious Polly Shortts climb with less than 10km remaining.
He clung to the lead to take the title in 5:31:33, with three-time winner Mthembu crossing the line just 25 seconds back in 5:31:58.