81-year-old bricklayer becomes Comrades Marathon’s oldest finisher

Oldest Comrades finisher

An 81-year-old bricklayer has become the oldest person to complete South Africa’s storied Comrades Marathon, finishing this year’s 87.7-km run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in 9:26:10.

Sunday’s history-making run by Johannes Mosehla, who hails from the South African city of Polokwane, marked the 10th time the speedy senior has completed the Comrades Marathon, the world’s largest ultra-marathon. According to comments Mosehla made at Monday’s awards breakfast at Durban’s Elangeni Hotel on Monday, this year’s Comrades wo n’t be his last of his.

“I feel strong,” South Africa’s news24 reported Mosehla as saying. “I could run it again!” he added, confirming that he plans to return to Comrades in 2024.

He told those at the breakfast that there are no shortcuts to becoming Comrades’ oldest finisher: “My secret is to train. You can’t win without training,” said Mosehla, who has been running since 1963 and continues to train three times a week, covering distances from five to 32 km.

Comrades alternate between the “down” course, which was run this year and is so-named for its relative descent in elevation, and the “up” course, which begins in Durban and ends in Pietermaritzburg.

Noting he was proud to pull off his record-breaking effort “for the whole country,” Mosehla said he hopes his run sends the message that people “must not look for a number or age. I am 81, but I must not look at that number. I must be controlled by my body. When I am still strong, I must not look at my age.”

Mosehla’s run broke the decades-old record set by Comrades legend wally haywardwho at age 80 crossed the finish line of the 1989 Comrades Marathon less than two minutes before the 11-hour cutoff time.

Hawyard’s wasn’t the only record to fall at Sunday’s race. Last year’s winner Tete Dijana of Rustenburg, South Africa, defended his Comrades crown in 5:13:58, shaving more than four minutes off the “down” record set by David Gatebe in 2016.

Gerda Steyn ran this year’s course in 5:44:56, breaking the women’s “down” record set by fellow South African runner Frith van der Merwe in 1989 by nearly 10 minutes.

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