JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Samuel Tshabalala became the first black to win the country's most prestigious distance race, the Comrades Marathon, when he covered the 55.5 miles in 5 hours, 35 minutes, 51 seconds today.
Blacks took six of the top 10 positions in the 64th running of the ultra-marathon, which is more than twice as long as the standard marathon of 26.2 miles.
Tshabalala, 32, topped second-place finisher Willie Mtolo by 4:06. Frenchman Jean-Marc Bellocq was third in 5:42:28.
The top woman finisher, Frith van der Merwe, placed 15th overall in 5:54:43.
A record field of more than 13,000 entered the race, which began in the southeastern city of Pietermaritzburg and finished in the Indian Ocean city of Durban.
Distance running, like almost all sports in South Africa, has been integrated at the top levels in recent years. Blacks were first allowed to compete in the Comrades Marathon in 1975.