Records tumble as South Africa’s Dijana and Steyn conquer the Comrades Marathon

Records tumble as South Africa’s Dijana and Steyn conquer the Comrades Marathon
Tete Dijana wins the 2023 Comrades Marathon in Durban. 11 June 2023 (Photo: Darren Stewart / Gallo Images)

Tete Dijana and Gerda Steyn make it an All South African affair, smashing the previous best times at the Comrades Marathon on Sunday.

South Africa’s Tete Dijana not only retained his Comrades Marathon title but also did it in fastest Down Run time yet of 5:14.01, smashing David Gatebe’s 5:18:19 set in 2016.

While Gerda Steyn similarly ran the fastest Down Run for women after a phenomenal run from Pietermaritzburg City Hall to Kingsmead Cricket Stadium in a time of 5:44.54.

Comrades winners

Gerda Steyn with her first-place Comrades trophy after winning the women’s race in record time. (Photo: Darren Stewart / Gallo Images)

Steyn broke Frith van der Merwe’s long-standing Down Run fastest time of 5:54:43. Steyn now holds both the fastest time in the Down Run and the Up Run, having achieved the Up Run feat in 2019 with a time of 5:58:53.

It’s another fine achievement this year for Steyn, who also broke the Two Oceans ultramarathon record in April.

Dijana will receive R1.2-million for his success on Sunday – R500,000 for winning the race, R500,000 for doing it in the fastest time and another R200,000 for being the first South African to cross the finish line.

Steyn will receive R1-million for her achievements.

Fastest times

Steyn cruised to victory, finishing more than 11 minutes faster than second-placed Adele Broodryk, who went one better than her third-placed finish last year.

Broodryk’s time of 5:56:26 meant it was the first time two women finished a Comrades Marathon in under six hours.

Carla Molinaro was 23 seconds short of making it three, as she completed an all South African women’s podium in a time of 6:00:23.

 The sensational times recorded on Sunday are in part due to the fact that the marathon is 2.2km shorter than last year, at a still-gruelling 87.701km. 

Dijana, in the men’s race, was only really threatened by the Netherlands’ Piet Wiersma – who finished second – as the two sprinted home to Kingsmead Cricket Stadium.

Tete Dijana hugs Piet Wiersma, who came second, after finishing the 2023 Comrades Marathon on Sunday, 11 June 2023 in Durban. (Photo: Darren Stewart / Gallo Images)

Ayanda Ngcobo led for more than half of the race after starting the Comrades at a sprint-like pace, before he stopped at Drummond and was overtaken by Japan’s Jo Fukuda in his blue locks.

Fukuda led until Pinetown, before Dijana overtook him and broke into a lead with 15km to go.

Finishing strong

Wiersma came back and pushed Dijana all the way to the finish line and looked to have more energy than Dijana as the two closed in, but ran out of time to catch up, finishing seven seconds behind the South African.

“It was good but I should have started sprinting earlier. I still feel fresh but my legs were cramping but I could have pushed harder,” Wiersma said after the race.

The Dutchman finished runner-up with 05:14.08, while 2019 Comrades Marathon winner Edward Mothibi came third in 05:17.34 – all three athletes making it under Gatebe’s 2016 record time. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Eddie Maulson says:

    It is apt right now to be reminded of what the Comrades Marathon stands for. This most especially aimed at our leaders!!!
    The spirit of the Comrades Marathon is said to be embodied by attributes of camaraderie, selflessness, dedication, perseverance, and ubuntu.

  • Janine Stephen says:

    Wonderful. Love the last photo: those two expressions are so poignant.

  • Colleen Dardagan says:

    Thank goodness and thank you to South African champions who won this race – for a moment there I thought a Russian was going to take it and that would have just been too much, seriously. What is the matter with us, why were Russians even allowed to run?

    • Eberhard Knapp says:

      Hey Colleen – it’s not “the Russians” who are fighting a war against Ukraine, it is Putin’s war!! If there were a free press in Russia – as we have it here in SA – I’m sure that war would not have happened..…

  • Daphne Myburgh says:

    Two/three of SA’s biggest sporting events are not on the regular TV channels. Comrades, Dusi, Midmar Mile. These events showcase the very large numbers of our local population achieving personal, or Title goals. All South Africans should be encouraged to follow where these people lead.

  • Don Haynes-Smart says:

    Congrats to all the medal winners, so good to have South Africans on the winners podium

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