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Ethiopian runner sets men’s 50K world record with 2:42:07 run in South Africa

Ketema Negasa broke the men's world record and South Africa's Irvette Van Zyl ran the second-fastest women's 50K in history

Photo by: Twitter/Tshiliboy

Ethiopia’s Ketema Negasa broke the men’s 50K world record on Sunday, running 2:42:07 at the Nedbank Runified race in South Africa. Negasa led the way as he and three other runners beat American CJ Albertson‘s previous record of 2:42:30. In the women’s race, Des Linden‘s recent 2:59:54 world record remained unbeaten, but South Africa’s Irvette Van Zyl ran a national record of 3:04:23, which is the second-fastest women’s result in history. 

Negasa’s record

Negasa is primarily a marathoner, but he has never been able to match the necessary times to shine in Ethiopia. He owns a marathon PB of 2:11:07, a time that would rank him in the top 10 all-time among Canadian runners but isn’t even in the top 250 results in Ethiopian history. After his run on Sunday, though, it looks like ultras may be his forte. 

RELATED: 5 takeaways from Des Linden’s 50K record run

It’s important to note that Albertson’s world record, which he set in November 2020, came on a track, while Negasa’s run on Sunday was on the road. Ultrarunning world bests are unique in this sense, because while Albertson and Negasa ran on completely different surfaces, their runs count in the same category of the 50K in general, as the International Association of Ultrarunners introduced a rule that eliminated surface-specific records in 2014. In other World Athletics-sanctioned events, the surface comes into play. For example, the 5K and 5,000m world records both belong to Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, but they’re two different times. 

Negasa’s run worked out to an average per-kilometre pace of 3:15 for the full 50K, which helped him top Albertson’s result by 23 seconds. He crossed the line in first place, and he was followed closely by Machele Jonas, who also beat Albertson’s record with a 2:42:15 run. Third went to Mphakathi Ntsindiso in 2:42:18, and in fourth place was Kiptoo Kimaiyo Shedrack, who just beat Albertson’s record in 2:42:29. 

Irvette Van Zyl run 

Had the Nedbank Runified race been held a couple of months earlier, Van Zyl would have broken the women’s 50K world record. Since the race took place in late May, though, Van Zyl was late to the party, and her time is second-best to Linden’s. When she ran her race in Oregon, Linden became the first woman to break three hours over 50K, and she smashed Aly Dixon‘s previous record of 3:07:20. 

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While Van Zyl didn’t manage to beat Linden, she did crush Dixon’s result with her 3:04:23 finish, which is the new South African 50K record. Behind Van Zyl was Lilian Jepkorir Chemweno, who finished in second place in 3:05:00, which is now the third-fastest 50K in history.