A full-time security guard, dad and part-time marathon runner surprised a quality peloton in the 2022 Comrades Marathon on Sunday. Head Dijana from Rustenburg, South Africa, crossed the finish line to win the 90km ultra between Pietermaritzburg and Durban in an impressive time of 5:30:38, which equates to an average pace of 3:36 s per km.
Dijana has only run the race once before, in 2019, when he finished 50th, clocking 6:25:03. The 33-year-old ultrarunner, who trains with South Africa’s prominent Nedbank running club, won the 95th comrades marathon with less than 10km to go when he launched a push and dropped the defending champion 2019. Edouard Motibi.
Dijana comes from humble beginnings, working night shifts as a full-time security guard at North-West University in Mahikeng, South Africa. He often went to practice in the morning and again in the afternoon, after working a night shift.
In a post-race interview with a South African newspaper The citizenDijana said he changed his training three months ago to focus more on ultrarunning than marathon distance.
Tete Dijana works as a Security Officer at North West University, Mahikeng Campus. He travels from Rustenburg to Klerksdorp every Thursday when he is off so he can train with his coach and teammates.
Today he wins Comrades and R260,000 🥇🏃🏾♂️
— Nqobile Ndlovu (@CashNSport) August 28, 2022
Earlier this year at the Nedbank Runified 50k, Dijana paced teammate Nedbank Stephen Mokoka the world record for the 50 km in 2:40:13.
Dijana, a father of two young children, walked away with over US$16,000 in prize money, which he hopes to use to buy his first home.
Russian athlete wins women’s race despite initial ban
In the women’s race, Alexandra Morozova of Russia took the win in 6:17:48, after being initially banned.
Morozova’s entry was withdrawn as the comrades said they were acting on instructions from World Athletics, which called on all Russian athletes who could win prize money at major races to be banned from competing in championships or affiliated races due to the conflict in Ukraine.
Alexandra Morozova, Russian athlete and winner of the women’s Comrades Marathon, will not receive her winnings – pending a trial due in November. #sabcnews
— SAfm News (@SAfmnews) August 28, 2022
She was eventually allowed to compete, after winning a legal petition against the race in Pietermaritzburg High Court. It was Morozova’s fourth time in charge of Comrades and her first victory. She won’t get any wins due to World Athletics sanctions against Russian athletes.
She told the media after the race that she received tons of support from fans on the course.