After breaking clear of a small lead group with 10km remaining, Negewo looked set to record a dominant win, but Kenyan Emannuel Tirop closed the gap over the last few kilometres and moved into the lead.
Negewo held his composure, however, and wound up the pace again as he drew ahead once more to win the IAAF Silver Label road race in 2:08:41.
“I struggled a bit over the hills in the last three kilometres, but I was determined to win the race and I knew I had to go,” said Negewo, speaking through a translator. Tirop held on to finish second, just six seconds off the pace, and his compatriot Barnabus Kiptum was third in 2:09:21.
All three men ran faster than the previous quickest time ever run on a standard 42.2km course on SA soil, dipping under the 2:09:50 clocked by David Tsebe in Port Elizabeth in 1990.
Former national champion Desmond Mokgobu was the first South African home, taking fifth place in 2:11:33 to slice nearly four minutes off his personal best. Meanwhile, British athlete Tish Jones won the women’s contest in 2:36:13, completing the race 21 seconds ahead of Ethiopia’s Megertu Geletu.
Local favourite Lebogang Phalula, making her marathon debut, finished third in 2:38:00.
“I didn’t really go into the race to win. I went in to get a good time, and I did both, so I’m satisfied,” Jones said.
Earlier, Namakoe Nkhasi of Lesotho won the men’s 10km race in 28:28, finishing 14 seconds clear of SA athlete Sibusiso Nzima, who took second place.
Helalia Johannes of Namibia took the women’s title in 32:44, completing the race 41 seconds ahead of Diana-Lebo Phalula in second spot.