THE third edition of the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km ultramarathon which returns to Nelson Mandela Bay on February 26, has once again attracted a world-class elite field with fast finishing times expected.
In its first edition, Nedbank running club athletes, Keteme Bekele Negasa and Irvette van Zyl, both set new 50km World Records with South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka setting a new men’s World Record in last year’s event.
Race director and former Comrades Marathon winner, Nick Bester, is pleased with the calibre of entries received for this year’s event.
“We have a strong, well-balanced international field for our race, and we have received requests from athletes wanting to run from all over the world,” said Bester.
Mokoka’s name may not yet be on the current start list, but that may change given that American CJ Alberton ran a faster time than Mokoka’s world record last year – and Mokoka may want revenge.
It must be noted that Mokoka’s 2:40:13 from the 2022 event is still the official world record, with World Athletics still to approve the other.
Running in Nedbank Running Club colours are no fewer than four previous Comrades Marathon winners, namely Tete Dijana, Edward Mothibi, Ludwick Mamabolo and Claude Moshiywa.
Dijana gained victory at the Comrades last year, with training partner Mothibi being victorious in the last up run. Both ran last year, finishing second and third, and it was the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km that was a curtain raiser for the unknown Dijana who would go on to bigger things.
“I will never forget last year’s race because when I came second it showed that not only do I have a big talent, but all my hard work was also paying off and I was looking forward to a bright future,” said Dijana.
“We are all currently in the camp now preparing for the race, and we have been since November last year, so we are looking forward to a great race.”
Teammate and veteran athlete, Jonas Makhele, may be 41 years old, but finished second in the first edition of the event in a quick 2:42:14.
“I am a veteran and turned 40 only a few months after that race, so I would like to aim at beating that time and also set a new world age best,” said Makhele.
A big Ethiopian contingent is also set to arrive in Gqeberha looking for nothing less than a World Record. Look out for Maxed Elite’s Endale Belachew who destroyed a class field last year in the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon, with a devastatingly quick finish after 56km – his debut at an ultra. Likewise, it was a debut back in 2021 for Bekele, who ran off with a World Record.
Daba Debele makes his ultra-marathon debut, and will be arriving with teammates, Gadisa Gutama and Habtamu Mishamo.
Zimbabwe’s Ngonidzashe Ncube, competing in Nedbank Running Club colours, will be looking to keep the title in the southern region of Africa. Ncube also makes his ultra-marathon debut, but has a very strong marathon pedigree and will be one of the fastest marathon runners in the field.
The fastest marathon runner in the event, thanks to a time of 2:09:24 in last year’s World Championships, will be local hometown hero, Melikhaya Frans. Fans shouldn’t get too excited though as Frans, just as in last year, will have a big and bold PACE across his race number as he sets the pace for the runners over the first 30km at a World Record tempo.
There is more than R1 million in prize money up for grabs, which includes prizes for the top 10 men and women, World Record incentives, world age-best incentives and prizes to the top South Africans.
The Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km is a World Athletics Elite label recognized event. For more info, visit www.nickbsport.com or www.nedbankrunningclub.co.za.
– ISSUED BY NEDBANK RUNNING CLUB