Durban - Tete Dijana sprinted to the finish of the 2023 Comrades Marathon down run at Kingsmead Stadium in Durban on Sunday, smashing the men's record with a finishing time of 5:13: 58.
The Nedbank runner beat David Gatebe’s 2016 record of 5:18:19.
Dijana was closely followed by Dutch runner Piet Wiersma who finished in a time of 5:14:01.
This was the closest finish in the men's race since 1967. Edward Mothibi rounded up the top three.
In the women's race Gerda Steyn smashed the women's record in a time of 5:44:54 beating the 1989 record of 5:54:43 by Frith van der Merwe.
Supporters and members of the public came out as early as 6am to Kingsmead Stadium to show their support for the runners on Sunday.
Some said they were supporting family members while others said that they were there to just soak up the atmosphere.
Ravi Pillay from Merebank said that he arrived at 6am to support the runners.
"It's actually my first time coming to support the Comrades Marathon runners. I always wanted to come to Comrades to experience the atmosphere and cheer on the runners. I came early to Kingsmead and have been watching the race since the start on my phone," he said.
Daisy Maseko from Mbombela in Mpumalanga said that she was supporting her sister, who was running the Comrades Marathon for the eleventh time.
"I am a runner myself but I was not able to qualify for the Comrades Marathon. My sister has 10 Comrades medals and she is running for her 11th medal. I am also supporting Comrades runners from Bellas Athletics Club from Mpumlanaga. There are a lot of runners from there, I will try by all means to qualify and run the Comrades Marathon next year," she said.
Sakhile Maphumulu, who is from KwaMashu, said: "I live nearby Thokozani Mbambo in KwaMashu and I am supporting him. I am also a big fan of Bongumusa Mthembu. I am enjoying the atmosphere and the race."
Seipati Makume, from Vereeniging, who travelled from Johannesburg on Saturday night and reached Durban at 3am, said it was worth the effort to “support four members of the Remmoho Legendary Social Club”.
Sphamandla Gabela said he had come out to support the local Comrades Marathon heroes.
“Specifically, I am here to support Bongumusa Mthembu.”
Mthembu is a previous Comrades Marathon winner, who according to the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) had a down run best time of 05:26:34 in 2018.
Dereck Fraser, from Newcastle, said he came out to support family member Christine Klamer.
“She is an Olympic runner and I believe she will do well,” he said.
Lindiswa Mthembu, who was cheering in the stands, said she was supporting her husband Protas Mthembu.
“This is his 11th Comrades Marathon and I am expecting him to run the race in eight hours. I expect him to come in at 2pm,” she said.
Dolly Dlamini came out to support her brother-in-law Lekgotla Dlamini, who is running his fourth Comrades Marathon.
Dlamini said she was also supporting her colleagues from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
“There are six people running for Ezemvelo. Siyanda Nyide is running for the fourth time and we are expecting him to come in at 1.30pm,” she said.
She added that the race had been good so far.
“I am enjoying it and have been praying for all the runners.”
Brendan Mthethwa, from La Mercy and a member of the oThongathi running team, was draped in the South African flag cheering at the big screen, where spectators were able to watch the race.
“I am here to support the Nedbank runners and I am going to qualify for next year’s Comrades,” he said.