Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50 km ultramarathon is ready to break records


On Sunday morning the beautiful coastal stretch of Marine Drive will be abuzz with excitement as the third edition of the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50 km ultramarathon returns to the friendly city of Gqeberha.  


With three world records and many of the world’s best athletes, and national and continental records set in the previous two editions, the 2023 edition of the race wants to continue this record-breaking trend as, yet another world-class field has arrived in Nelson Mandela Bay. ‘I am very pleased with the elite field that has been assembled this year,’ said Race Director, Nick Bester. ‘We have a very strong line-up with many international runners also making their ultra-marathon debuts, so we are set for a good and exciting race.’ 


Ensuring that the athletes stay on pace, Bester has contracted a number of pacemakers in both the men’s and women’s races whose main purpose will be to set a pace fast enough for a new world record. ‘In the men’s race we have four pacers who will be led by local athlete Melikhaya Frans and the pacers will be going off at a tempo of 3:09 to 3:10 per km, which should equate to a finishing time of 2:37:30.’ The current ratified world record was set in last year’s race with the South African athlete Stephen Mokoka finishing the race with a time of 2:40:13. American athlete CJ Albertso, ran a time of 2:38:44 but this time is still to be approved by World Athletics. 


‘In the women’s race we will have two pacers from the Nedbank Running Club, Stella Marais and Helalia Johannes,’ said Bester. ‘Their task is to set a pace of 3:40 per km, which will give them a projected finishing time of 3:03:19.’ The current women’s world record was set in the first edition of the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50 km race by Irvette van Zyl, who ran a time of 3:04:24. In last year’s event, Amelework Bosho just missed out when she crossed the line in a time of 3:04:58. 


To add to the excitement of the race, pacers are allowed to finish the race and share in over R1 million in prize money. This could provide a twist in the story, with an athlete like Johannes, a Commonwealth Games Marathon champion, who is more than capable of pulling it off. One just has to think back to 2021 where Van Zyl was a pacemaker and after 30 km decided to continue and run away with a new world record.


World Athletics technical official and internationally recognised route measurer, Norrie Williamson, believes that there are many records that could be set on Sunday. ‘There are almost 90 possible records that could be set when one considers all the different categories there are on offer,’ said Williamson. ‘Remember that, with a world record set, this alone can be a new continental world best, national record, age group best, etc.’ 


It is all systems go for the event, which will be broadcasted live on SuperSport Variety 4 on Sunday morning. ‘The team has done a fantastic job at ensuring that we give the athletes another world-class event on Sunday,’ said Bester. ‘All we hope is that the weather is kind to the athletes, as that will allow them to contend for records.’ To help with that, organisers also moved forward the start times to assist the athletes. ‘Compared to the previous two editions, we brought the start times earlier for both the men and women races to beat the heat on the day.’ 


An event of this magnitude would not be possible without sponsors and a municipality known for hosting international sporting events with flair. Nedbank is truly delighted to be the title sponsor of the third edition of the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50 km ultramarathon.


‘At Nedbank, we believe that sports play and integral part in nation building and fostering social cohesion. It is the first major running event in Gqeberha that will inject much needed investment into the local tourism sector and showcase the city as an attractive tourism destination to a global audience while providing exceptional entertainment to fans,’ says Khensani Nobanda, Nedbank Group Executive of Marketing and Corporate Affairs.


Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has endorsed this event organised by Eastern Province Athletics and is no stranger to hosting world-class sporting events. ‘Boosting sports tourism is high on the city’s agenda and partnering with high profile events, which achieve international participation and exposure like the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50km ultramarathon, are well suited to this goal and confirms our reputation of being the city of breaking world records,’ said Bassie Kamana, as Member of the Mayoral Committee.


If the previous two editions of the Nedbank Runified Breaking Barriers 50 km ultramarathon were anything to go by, this year’s event is set for another day of record-breaking performances. is an award-winning Digital Media, Marketing, and Advertising Company (with Influence) est. 2015, with a global reach of over 1 million

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