2024 Comrades Marathon Results: Gerda Steyn Sets Course Record; Piet Wiersma Wins Men’s Race

At the 2024 Comrades Marathon, South African Gerda Steyn sets a course record in her third win while Dutchman Piet Wiersma gets his first victory.

By on June 9, 2024 | Comments

At 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 9, in the raucous darkness of Durban, South Africa, more than 20,000 runners, powered by nerves, adrenaline, and the “Chariots of Fire” theme song, crossed the start line of the 2024 Comrades Marathon to take part in the oldest and largest ultramarathon in the world: nearly 86 kilometers of road running throughout the hills of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. It was the 97th running of the event, which has only missed four editions since World War I veteran Vic Clapham started it in 1921 to commemorate the lives of South African soldiers.

2024 Comrades Marathon - start line women

Elite women before the start of the 2024 Comrades Marathon. Eventual champ Gerda Steyn is at center left. Photo: Comrades Marathon/Paul Henman

Two of the runners — Gerda Steyn, of South Africa but who lives in the United Arab Emirates, on the women’s side and Piet Wiersma of The Netherlands on the men’s — cemented their names in race lore by taking home wins, and sizable paydays, in their respective races. The race has a massive prize purse, with a total 4,092,000 Rand ($217,000) on the line.

Steyn, the defending champion, broke her own course record for the Up run direction by more than nine minutes for her third win at Comrades. She also holds the women’s course record for the Down run when the race is held in the opposite direction, which she set in 2023.

Wiersma, meanwhile, backed up his impressive Comrades debut last year — where he finished second only three seconds behind the winner — with his first win at the race.

The Comrades Marathon famously alternates the direction each year, and this year’s race, which was run in relatively ideal conditions with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to low-70s Fahrenheit, was the 49th Up race, meaning runners began in the lower-altitude Durban and ended in the higher-altitude Pietermaritzburg. The race featured around 1,750 meters of elevation gain, with most of it during the first half of the race, when the course runs through three of its “Big Five” hills. The Up run, therefore, demands a smart, measured racing strategy.

Read on for full race details.

2024 Comrades Marathon - post-race press conference with podium finishers

The 2024 Comrades Marathon top three men and women at the post-race press conference (l-to-r): 3rd man Degefa Yohannese Lafebo, 2nd man Dan Moselakwe, 1st man Piet Wiersma, 1st woman Gerda Steyn, 2nd woman Alexandra Morozova, and 3rd woman Courtney Olsen. Photo: Comrades Marathon

2024 Comrades Marathon Men’s Race

For the race’s first half, Piet Wiersma (The Netherlands) seemed content to stay conservative and save his energy for the back half. A two-man pack of Jobo Khatoane (Lesotho), looking for his first Comrades finish, and Aleksei Beresnev (Russia), back for a second time after debuting inside the top 10 last year, were within a minute of each other at Drummond, around the halfway mark, with the next runner more than five minutes back and Wiersma sitting in 10th, almost nine-and-a-half minutes off the lead.

But then Wiersma dropped the hammer, increasing his pace to 3:37 per kilometer from 3:58 per kilometer to jump into the top five by the Cato Ridge checkpoint at 56.6 kilometers into the race. That seemingly set the tone for big moves for the race’s second half, where Beresnev was still holding the lead and followed by Degefa Yohannese Lafebo (Ethiopia). With this race, Lafebo was moving up in distance following two top-10 finishes at the Two Oceans Marathon, a 50k race.

South Africans Tete Dijana, the two-time defending champion, and Dan Moselakwe, a prior Comrades podium finisher, sat in third and fourth, respectively.

Wiersma continued to run strong and moved into the lead by Umlaas Road, 67.5k, passing Lafebo, and by Mkondeni at 79.1k, he had increased to nearly a minute. Behind him, Beresnev dropped off the pace, while Dijana couldn’t hang on, either. The pair would finish, but outside the top 10 this year.

Moselakwe took advantage of fading runners to move himself into second. Joseph Manyedi (South Africa), meanwhile, methodically moved his way up to finish in fourth, his eighth and best Comrades finish, while Andrew Davies (U.K.) jumped from 12th to fifth over the course of the second half of the race. This was Davies’ first Comrades finish.

At the finish line, Wiersma would stay clear of Moselakwe by 45 seconds and third-place finisher Lafebo by nearly three minutes.

Piet Wiersma - 2024 Comrades Marathon champion v2

Piet Wiersma, 2024 Comrades Marathon champion. Photo: Comrades Marathon/Paul Henman

2024 Comrades Marathon Men’s Results

  1. Piet Wiersma (The Netherlands) — 5:25:00
  2. Dan Moselakwe (South Africa) — 5:25:45
  3. Degefa Yohannese Lafebo (Ethiopia) — 5:27:48
  4. Joseph Manyedi (South Africa) — 5:28:33
  5. Andrew Davies (U.K.) — 5:30:46
  6. Bongmusa Mthembu (South Africa) — 5:34:45
  7. Elov Olsson (Sweden) — 5:35:24
  8. Teboho Sello (Lesotho) — 5:36:11
  9. Alex Milne (U.K.) — 5:36:51
  10. Givemore Madzinganyama (Zimbabwe) — 5:37:09

Full results.

2024 Comrades Marathon Women’s Race

Gerda Steyn (South Africa, lives in the United Arab Emirates), who won the Comrades Marathon in 2023 and 2019 and is also set to run the Olympic Marathon in Paris, France, later this summer, was at or near the front of the race from the beginning. At the 5.5k and Pinetown (18.5k) checkpoints, she sat in a group with Carla Molinaro (U.K.) and Loveness Madziva (Zimbabwe).

Molinaro was a six-time Comrades finisher with her best performance last year in third place, and Madziva was looking for her first Comrades finish after lots of strong performances around the 50k distance. Those three women led a tight pack of runners through Winston Park (29.6k), with the top 10 women all within six minutes of the lead.

But then Steyn picked up her pace by four seconds per kilometer to gap Madziva by almost a minute by Drummond (42.6k), about halfway into the race. By then, the 10th-place runner was more than 10 minutes back of Steyn.

Steyn’s lead only increased over the latter half of the race, but behind her, there was significant movement within the field. Alexandra Morozova (Russia), the 2022 champion and a many-time Comrades podium finisher, made a big move between the Umlaas Road (67.5k) and Mkondeni (79.1k) checkpoints, dropping her pace by nearly 10 seconds per kilometer to pass Molinaro and Nobukhosi Tshuma (Zimbabwe) and jump from fourth to second, a position she wouldn’t relinquish. Tshuma was another runner looking to move up in distance after successful shorter-distance ultrarunning.

Perhaps the most dramatic move, though, came from American Courtney Olsen, who methodically made her way into the lead pack throughout the race. By Drummond, she was in ninth place before jumping three spots at Umlaas Road. As Pietermaritzburg approached, Olsen jumped three more spots to finish third. Olsen’s incredible debut Comrades follows up on prior top-five finishes at the IAU 50k and 100k World Championships.

No one, though, could get close to Steyn, who raised her arms in triumph as she broke the tape under a cloudless blue sky and took a small bow, setting a new women’s Up run record and finishing more than 15 minutes ahead of second-place Morozova.

Gerda Steyn - 2024 Comrades Marathon champion v2

Gerda Steyn, 2024 Comrades Marathon champion. Photo: Comrades Marathon/Paul Henman

2024 Comrades Marathon Women’s Results

  1. Gerda Steyn (South Africa, lives in the United Arab Emirates) — 5:49:46
  2. Alexandra Morozova (Russia) — 6:05:12
  3. Courtney Olsen (United States) — 6:08:09
  4. Carla Molinaro (U.K.) — 6:12:01
  5. Nobukhosi Tshuma (Zimbabwe) — 6:12:18
  6. Antonia Iushina (Russia) — 6:12:28
  7. Caitriona Jennings (Ireland) — 6:13:00
  8. Jenet Mbhele (South Africa) — 6:16:54
  9. Dominika Stelmach (Poland) — 6:19:24
  10. Yuliya Ryzhankova (Russia) — 6:28:22

Full results.

2024 Comrades Marathon runners

The 2024 Comrades Marathon runners taking on the hilly route. Photo: Comrades Marathon/Paul Henman

Robbie Harms

Robbie Harms is a writer, teacher, and runner. He has written about running, among other topics, for “The New York Times,” “The Boston Globe,” and several other publications.