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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Melikhaya Frans to pace at World Record tempo as Nedbank Runified 50km returns in 2023

After the success of the inaugural event in 2021 and a 2022 race which saw Stephen Mokoka breaking the World Record - the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km Ultramarathon is set to return next year. The third edition of the fast and flat race will once again take place in Gqeberha on Sunday, 26 February with organisers having confirmed some big names for the race which has been awarded gold status from International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) as well as Elite label status from WA for 2023.

“By virtue of this prestigious status, the event is now recognized by WA and the IAU as one of the leading ultramarathon events in the world. For a race to achieve this accolade after only two years is testament to the hard work and support from the entire race office team, volunteers and our amazing sponsors,” said Nick Bester, Race Director and Managing Director of Nick B Sport.

Reigning SA Half Marathon champion Melikhaya Frans will lead the elite men out at World Record pace. Photo Credit: Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km/Tobias Ginsberg.

Second behind Mokoka during that record-breaking run in March was a Tete Dijana who went on to become a household name when he won the Comrades Marathon in August. The Nedbank Running Club top runner has confirmed his participation for next year's event, as has his training partner and 2019 Comrades champion Edward Mothibi who was third in the Nelson Mandela Bay race earlier this year. Boasting a total prize purse of R1 million the race which is run on a 10km loop on Marine Drive enjoys the support of Athletics South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality - all of which makes the title sponsor Nedbank happy.

“We're so excited to see some of the greatest runners compete in this prestigious event and the prospect of a new world record makes it an unmissable event. We're proud to be able to bring this event to South Africa as we remain a committed supporter and sponsor of road running in South Africa,” said Tobie Badenhorst, Head of Group Sponsorships and Cause Marketing at Nedbank.

Amelework Fikadu Bosho winning the 2022 women's race in 03:04:58. The Ethiopian who also finished 2nd in this year’s Soweto Marathon, will defend her title. Photo Credit: Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km/Tobias Ginsberg.

Because local Eastern Province Athletics marathoner Melikhaya Frans who became the first South African to run under 2:10 at the World Championships when he produced 2:09:24 in Eugene Oregon, will pace athletes including the winner and runner up in this year’s Soweto Marathon, Ethiopia team-mates Daba Ifa Debele Gadisa and Bekele Gutama to the 30km mark, it is expected to be a fast race going out at the predicted 2:40:13 World Record pace.

The ultramarathon will be limited to a field of 300 entries only. Elite runners and competitive age group athletes who wish to compete in the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km ultramarathon, need to submit their CV to and before 16 January 2023. Qualifying athletes will receive an invite and voucher to enter online at website. The Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km race is an official Comrades qualifying race.

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