Beginner’s luck: South African runner breaks 50 km world record in first attempt

Dylan Bettencourt

Athlete Stephen Mokoka has set a new world record in the 50 kilometre distance during a road race in Gqeberha on Sunday – in his first ever attempt!

The South African’s time of 2:40:13 has been recognised by World Athletics as the fastest ever.

Mokoka, a three-time Olympian who has been running marathons for over 10 years, had never raced before in a competitive 50km.

He won the race by nearly four minutes and bettered the previous world record time by two minutes.

“I am tired. It is a long way, and I don’t know how I’m going to feel later, but I enjoyed it,” Mokoka said after his triumph.

Mokoka, 37, is a well decorated athlete having won several national titles across his career. He has won medals in races spanning from 1,500 metres right the way through to marathons and 50 km races.


The South African achieved his best time in a marathon in 2015 when he ran the 42-kilometre distance in 2:07:40 in Shanghai.

He also set the South African half marathon record when he set a time of 59:36 to finish seventh at the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships.

A recent spike in popularity for the 50 km race saw World Athletics add it to the list of events in which world records can be recognised.

In the women’s race on Sunday, Ethiopian Amelework Fikadu Bosho dominated the field to finish in just over three hours.

The World Athletics governing body confirmed that Mokoka’s time will be subjected to the usual ratification procedure to confirm it as a world record.

Image source: @TheCitizen

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