On Sunday, March 6, 2022, Stephen Mokoka of South Africa set a new 50-kilometer (31.07 miles) world record of 2:40:13 at the Nedbank #Runified 50k run in Gqeberha, South Africa, to break Ethiopian Ketema Negasa’s former 50k world record of 2:42:07 set at the same event last year.
The pacesetter for the race took the field out in 1:21:03 to halfway at 25k, exactly in line with the previous world record. Mokoka broke away from the field at 35k on the fourth of the race’s five 10k loops. In the end, he negative split the race, running the back half in 1:19:10 to cut one minute and 54 seconds, or 1.17%, off the existing world record.
For context, Mokoka ran his 50k world record at a pace of 5:06 per mile or 3:12 per kilometer.
So, how did setting a new world record feel? Well, according to World Athletics, Mokoka remarked in a finish line interview, “I’m tired. It’s a long way and I don’t know how I’m going to feel later, but I enjoyed it.”
While the 37-year-old Mokoka is a three-time Olympian and has run the marathon for more than a decade, his world record performance came in his 50-kilometer debut, making the record and his negative split all the more impressive. Previously, he’s won national titles from 1,500 meters through the marathon.
Mokoka ran his fastest marathon of 2:07:40 back in 2015, but he set his personal best and a South African national record for the half marathon of 59:36 in at the world championships in Gdynia, Poland, in October 2020.