Records tumble as South Africa’s Dijana and Steyn conquer the Comrades Marathon
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.
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.
Congratulations to our champions, Tete Dijana and Gerda Styn, champions of the 2023 Comrades Marathon, and their runners up.
We’re celebrating many of the participants who dared this awesome run. pic.twitter.com/gljkeo5EuL
— Minister of Sport, Arts & Culture (@zizikodwa) June 11, 2023
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.
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.
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