Claude Moshiywa became the first South African winner of the Comrades Marathon's "up run" in 21 years when he claimed victory in the 88th running of the world famous ultra-marathon in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.
The last South African winner of the Durban to Pietermaritzburg version of the Comrades had been Jetman Msuthu in 1992.
Conditions were extremely testing - a blustery Berg wind and a hot temperature - for the 90 kilometre epic and this had a strong effect on the field, especially in the latter part of the race.
Moshiywa, third in 2011 and ninth last year, handled them best to take victory in five hours, 32 minutes and eight seconds, well clear of six-time Swiss Alpine Marathon champion Jonas Buud, who came home in second place in five hours, 41 minutes and 20 seconds. The Swede had finished fourth in the previous "up run" in 2011.
"I can't describe the feeling," Moshiywa told Sapa after securing victory.
"I was so excited when I reached the final stretch and it means a lot to have done it after so many years."
Moshiywa was not alone in his excitement along the final stretch as a packed crowd cheered the South African runner home, carrying him along a corridor of sound into the finish at the Pietermaritzburg Oval in Alexandra Park.
Lesotho's Mpesela Ntlosoeu completed the top three, with Ludwick Mamabolo coming home in fourth place. The defending champion's place in the race had been uncertain until he was cleared of a doping charge only a month before the event.
Three-time winner, Zimbabwe's Stephen Muzhingi, finished in tenth place. He had struggled with a calf injury in the lead-up to the race and so declared himself very satisfied with his result, given the challenges he had faced in preparing for the event.
The women's race, as it has been so many times in the past, was dominated by the Nurgalieva twins, Elena and Olesya.
Elena managed to open a small lead on Olesya late in the race to take her eighth victory in six hours, 27 minutes and eight seconds, 58 seconds clear of her sister.
Irina Antropova finished third in six hours, 44 minutes and 36 seconds to make it a 1-2-3 for Russia.
It was Elena Nurgalieva's fourth Comrades' title in succession, following her sister's win in 2009.
The last time an athlete other than one of the Nurgalievas won the Comrades Marathon was way back in 2005 when Tatyana Zhirkova took victory. Russia's winning streak is now at 11 years.
The leading South African runner was Charne Bosman, who in her very first Comrades, was edged out of fourth place by Britain's Joasia Zakrzewski, who finished just six seconds ahead of Bosman in six hours, 53 minutes and 28 seconds.
Kerry Koen, South Africa's leading finisher with sixth place in 2012, finished ninth on Sunday.
Claude Moshiywa (RSA) 5:32:08
Jonas Buud (Swe) 5:41:20
Mpesela Ntlosoeu (Les) 5:34:37
Ludwick Mamabolo (RSA) 5:45:48
Johannes Kekana (RSA) 5:46:26
Henry Moyo (Mal) 5:46:51
Joseph Mphuthi (RSA) 5:47:59
Mike Fokoroni (Zim) 5:50:18
Rufus Photo (RSA) 5:51:51
Stephen Muzhingi (Zim) 5:52:37
Elena Nurgalieva (Rus) 6:27:08
Olesya Nurgalieva (Rus) 6:28:06
Irina Antropova (Rus) 6:44:36
Joasia Zakrzewski (GBR) 6:53:28
Charne Bosman (RSA) 6:53:34
Marina Zhalybina (Rus) 6:56:54
Holly Rush (GBR) 7:04:20
Melanie van Rooyen (RSA) 7:08:09
Kerry Koen 7:15:06 (RSA)
Julanie Basson 7:21:01 (RSA)
A smiling Claude Moshiywa celebrates winning the 2013 Comrades Marathon (Photo: South African Broadcasting Corporation)