Johannes Mosehla

Just short of a month after becoming the oldest person to finish the Comrades Marathon, 81-year-old Johannes Mosehla will make his debut at Knysna’s 38th forest run.

At this year’s “down” race between Pietermaritzburg and Durban the father-of-17 claimed the oldest runner title from Wally Hayward, who was still 80 at the time of finishing the iconic ultra-distance event in 1989.

Not only that, but he also completed his 10th Comrades in a time of 9hrs 26min 09sec – putting him among the top third of the 14 895 athletes who took part.

Now Mosehla is turning his focus to the SPAR Knysna Forest Marathon on Saturday, July 8. The event offers 21.1 and 42.2km distances and, naturally, Mosehla has signed up for the latter.

While he is no stranger to the Garden Route, having previously participated in two PetroSA marathons in Mossel Bay, it will be his first outing at the marquee running event in Knysna.

“Yes, I’m ready for it,” said the octogenarian from the Sekhukhune district in Limpopo, who runs in the colours of the Polokwane Athletic Club.

“I Googled the race on my cellphone and liked the idea of running in a national forest. I am expecting to run well.”

Mosehla has been showered with praise since breaking Hammond’s record, even receiving congratulations from South Africa’s Cabinet and Limpopo premier Stanley Mathabatha.

Johannes Mosehla

Johannes Mosehla, 81, who broke Wally Hayward’s record as the oldest Comrades finisher, will be running the SPAR Knysna Forest Marathon on July 8. Photo: Twitter/Limpopo provincial government

Breaking the record has opened new doors, such as being asked to speak at functions.

He is understandably proud of his achievement, especially so since he also received his green number for completing his 10th Comrades.

It has been some journey for the evergreen athlete, who first took up the sport in primary school in the early 1960s. While he excelled in shorter distances, it was not until 1974 that he decided to tackle his first marathon.

While working as a bricklayer, he ran for various clubs including those linked to the mines. When the use of asbestos was banned in SA and one of the mines closed, he joined a club that would later become Polokwane Athletic.

However, only a few years later, he decided to take a break from the sport. That hiatus turned out to be much longer than he anticipated – 20 years, in fact.

It was not until 2003, then 60 years old, that he decided to return to the road.

“I did my first Comrades two years later in 2005,” he said.

Mosehla understands that being an ultra-distance athlete in his eighties is unusual, but believes it is a “gift from God who knows who will be alive for a long time and who will be strong”.

“It makes me feel proud. It’s not easy and needs a lot of training. I try to train three times a week, but it all depends how I feel.

“I am controlled by my body.”

Training for marathons like the Comrades meant exceeding the distance of the event week in and week out and Mosehla said he had become an inspiration to runners much younger than him.

“They say, ‘If I can run at his age, it will be fantastic’.”

The veteran athlete will certainly add even greater star power to the 7 000-strong field at this year’s Knysna Forest Marathon.

SPAR Eastern Cape advertising manager Roseann Shadrach said it was because of athletes like Hayward and Mosehla that the Group supported events such as these.

“Johannes is the epitome of pure courage and determination. What we can learn from him is that we are in control of our lives and attitudes and we need to put in the effort to make it across the finish line.

“We look forward to welcoming him at the SPAR Knysna Forest Marathon and celebrating with him at the end.”

Visit for more information.