Johannesburg – Stephen Mokoka tore through the field in the closing stages to finish eighth in the men's race at the World Half-Marathon Championships in Kavarna, Bulgaria, on Saturday.

Mokoka, lying 16th at the 15 kilometres mark, sped through the last 6.1km in warm, difficult conditions to cross the line in 1:02:06.

The 27-year-old South African matched his performance at the 2009 global half-marathon championships in Birmingham, England, where he also finished eighth.

Gladwin Mzazi, who put up a brave run and held on while eventual winner Zersenay Tadese strung out the field in a relentless charge, crossed the line in 18th position in 1:03:46.

Lucky Mohale, the only other South African in the field, was 49th in 1:07:17.

Tadese, of Eritrea, bagged a record fifth world title in 1:00:19.

With the top three from each country counting towards the team prize, the South African trio finished seventh overall.

Kenya, who filled four of the top six positions, won the gold medal and Eritrea, spearheaded by Tadese, clinched silver.

Earlier, Rene Kalmer finished 16th after producing a gutsy effort in the women's race.

Kalmer, aiming to set a personal best by dipping under 70 minutes for the first time, finished 16th in 1:13:16 – a little more than three minutes off her career record.

Nolene Conrad, who had gone out hard, clinging to the lead group for the first few kilometres, was 37th in 1:17:51 and Kalmer's younger sister, Christine, was 46th of 59 finishers in 1:19:40.

Meseret Hailu held off fellow Ethiopian Feyse Tadese to win the women's race by one second in 1:08:55.

The SA women finished sixth in the team competition, with Ethiopia securing gold ahead of Kenya. – Sapa