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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'I want to win the race' - France's Guillaume Ruel returns to tackle Runified City 50km with high ambitions

Since its inception during the height of the Covid-19 Lockdown back in 2021, the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers has been known as an elite only race aimed at breaking the 50km World Record. Irvette van Zyl did it in 2021, Stephen Mokoka in 2022 and Tete Dijana improved on Mokoka's time in 2023. But this time around, things are different. No longer an invitation only race aimed at local and international top runners, the race which is now known simply as the Runified City 50km is open to all.

"It's unlike the previous three years of races where we only had invited athletes. It's now a mass race which is open to everyone. The timing of the race and where it's placed on the calendar prepares the athletes for the Comrades Marathon and Two Oceans. The race also incorporates the 50km National Championships now. The provinces will send their selected teams to represent them. It also allows for the athletes who are running for money and who enjoy ultramarathons," explained Race Director Mike Mbambani.

Ruel is returning to the Runified City 50km and is aiming to win the race this time around. Photo credit: Tobias Ginsberg.

Both social and elite athletes will be eyeing the race because of the lightening quick times that the 10km looped course produced. But for those aiming to use the race to run a new personal best or indeed improve upon their Comrades or Two Oceans seedings, be warned that the route has changed. Mbambani says opening up the race to all meant that they had to come up with a new route, which is still a fast one.

"The race will still start at the Pollock Beach but it's a completely different route because we cannot have a mass race on a 10km loop. The new route takes runners from Pollock Beach to Kings Beach for the first turn then back out to Humewood Golf Course, then looping back to the start for the first 10km. This loop is then repeated but extends past Humewood Golf Course to Schoenmakers Kop and returns to Pollock Beach. The new 50km route is fast and friendly as athletes will be able to see others running in the opposite direction."

Hometown favourite Kelly van Vliet who finished in seventh place (3:30) on her ultra debut in 2022 will also be in action. Photo Credit: Richard Pearce.

With the route confirmed as a fast one, many of Mzansi's top runners who have chosen to skip the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon in order to focus on The Ultimate Human, will use the race on the 25th of February as a litmus test to check on the progress of their training. Others are 42,2km and 50km specialists who will be back for that elusive PB or World Athletics Ranking Points at the International Ultrarunners Association gold label event. One such athlete is France's Guillaume Ruel who finished the 2022 Runified 50km in his personal best time of 2:47 achieving both National and European Records. He will be back on South African soil competing in the Runified City 50km this year.

"Thanks to this race I signed my first pro athlete contract so South Africa changed my life and I have many running friends there. I want to be back this year to improve on my European Record and win the race. The goal is to do my sponsor Salomon proud, and show the world that Salomon is not only a trail running brand but also a road running brand,” added an excited Ruel.

Entries are open. For more information contact Irene van Eeden on 083 299 1775, EP Athletics office on 041 374 2818 or email 

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