On June 9th, hundreds of runners completed the 2019 Comrades Marathon, one of the world’s most celebrated road ultras. The race is a very hilly point-to-point event in South Africa, that travels between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. Covering approximately 90K (a standard marathon is 42.2K) by foot, each year the race switches direction. This year, the direction was “up.”

With five major hills on the course, there are no flat sections on the route. The Comrades Marathon has a very strict 12-hour cutoff time. As one can imagine, much like in an Ironman (17-hour cut-off), people jostle and surge to make it into the stadium before the cutoff. Those who don’t make it, get nothing–no finisher’s medal, and no glory.

This year, Edward Mothibi won the men’s race by only 25 seconds, in 5:31:33 in only his second outing. Defending champion Bongmusa Mthembu of South Africa was second, in 5:31:58. 100K world record-holder Nao Kazami of Japan finished third, in 5:39:16.

Related: Canada’s Catrin Jones snags top 10 Comrades finish

In the women’s race, Gerda Steyn of South Africa, who finished second last year, demolished Iena Nurgalieva’s “up” course record (6:09:23) from 2004 by more than 10 minutes with her 5:58:53. It’s the first time a woman has ever gone sub-6 on the uphill course. Alexandra Morozova of Russia finished second (6:17:40) and Caitriona Jennings of Ireland was third (6:24:12).

Chrissie Wellington, a four-time Ironman World Champion and world record holder (Challenge Roth), also completed the Comrades Marathon. She came across the line 14th in the women’s 40-49 age category (7:49:30). Earlier this spring, Wellington completed the London Marathon in 2:52:08.

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