Three-time Comrades winner Bong’musa Mthembu highlighted his class winning the bronze medal at the IAU World 100km Championships in Sveti, Croatia on Saturday.
Japan’s Hideaki Yamauchi was rewarded for his patience successfully defended his title completing the ultra-distance in a time of 6:28:05.
He was followed by compatriot Takehiko Gyoba second place clocking 6:32:51 with Mthembu adding the bronze to his silver from two years ago.
South Africa won finished second in both the men’s and women’s team titles.
The South African men had to be content with the silver medal in the team event failing to defend their title.
The three fastest athletes clocked a combined time of 20:33:49 with Japan also winning the team prize with a time of 19:37:01.
The team included two former Comrades winners with Mthembu and Claude Moshiywa leading the charge.
The Japanese and the South African teams made up all but one of the top-10 places going into the halfway mark.
American Geoff Burns was among the early leaders but the South Africans remained within striking distance.
Mthembu and team-mate Best Ngwenya raced in the front along with Yamauchi and Gyoba five kilometres into the second half of the race.
With 30 kilometres to go Mthembu was running in the lead with a time of 4:24:40.
As he approached the crucial 90-km mark, Mthembu started to hit somewhat of a wall before conceding the lead to the two Japanese athletes.
The South African did well to hold push through the pain to walk away with a podium place.
Spearheading the women’s team Salome Cooper made her return to the ultra-distance event for the first time in seven years finishing in a creditable seventh place clocking 7:51:13.
The women’s team clinched the silver medal with a combined time of 23:56:44.
Fikile Mbuthuma was the second best South African women finishing 14th with 7:59:17 while Lisa Collett finishing 19th in 8:06:14. The fourth member of the team Deanne Horn crossed in 24th place clocking 8:06:14.
Thuso Mosiea was the second South African male home finishing in 14th place with a time of 6:59:00 while Ngwenya finished two places down with 07:01:02.
Nkosinathi Duma finished 22nd posting a time of 7:05:18 with Moshiywa crossing the line in 42nd place with 7:31:39.