CAPE TOWN – Defending champion Stephen Mokoka will have to fend off a strong continental challenge when he lines up in the Cape Town 12 ONERUN on Sunday.
Last year the SA 10km record-holder crossed first in a sprint finish against Kenya’s Daniel Salel, with only a second separating the two athletes.
“It is a distance you are not used to, let’s say I reach the 10k mark with my PB, I know I am in trouble. But it is not such a foreign distance as we do run 15km and 21km,” Mokoka said.
Mokoka and compatriot Elroy Gelant worked together to negate the Kenyan challenge, with the latter finishing third to give South Africa two podium finishes.
This year they will have to have their wits about them, with Joburg 10K CITYRUN winner Namakoe Nkhasi of Lesotho and Kenya’s Morris Gachaga entering the fray.
To add credence to his challenge for the 2017 title, Gachaga is fresh off winning the Paris Half-Marathon two months ago.
“It is going to be a great race, it will be a bit different than last year, but we will still work as a team and on the last 100m, we will go for the sprint,” Gelant said. “We run better as a team, but when it gets to the end, the winner takes all.”
Nkhasi will be going into the race as the form guy having won five out of six races this year. He recently ran PBs in the Half Marathon – clocking 63:15 in Cape Town at Two Oceans before improving his time to 63:05 in Port Alfred two weeks later.
Defending women’s champion Irvette van Zyl was forced to withdraw from the race due to bronchitis, leaving the race wide open after in-form rising star Kesa Molotsane also had to pull out.
The women’s race will feature a race which includes Two Oceans runner-up, Jenna Challenor (pictured), and third place finisher Tanith Maxwell while Nolene Conrad, Cornelia Joubert, Lebogang Phalula and Rutendo Nyahora are also up for the challenge.
Cape Town Marathon champion Tish Jones of Great Britain, who recently finished 18th at the London Marathon, will add some will add to the challenge after shaving three minutes off her previous best (2:33.56).
Last year’s bronze medallist Nyahora said she hoped to claim another podium finish.
Challenor said dropping down in distance would pose somewhat of a challenge.
“I am super excited, I normally run 10km on the road, so an extra two kilometres is giving me a bit of hope but it is always exciting racing the speed queens,” Challenor said.