CAPE TOWN – Tired legs and confused biorhythms did not stop Johannesburg athlete, Desmond Mokgobu, from racing to victory in this morning’s OUTsurance Kfm Gun Run, speeding across the finish line at the Hamilton’s Rugby Club grounds in 1 hr 04 min 33 sec.
Mokgobu was 1 min 18 sec slower than his Gun Run time last year, when he was runner-up to David Manja, but he achieved his goal in adding a Gun Run victory to his impressive running CV.
Almost 20 000 took part in the 5 km, 10 km and half marathon in perfect conditions on the traditional looped course from Green Point to Camps Bay.
Two weeks ago Mokgobu struggled in the marathon at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, finishing out of the top 30 in 2 hr 18 min. “I battled in the humid conditions and I still felt the marathon in my legs today,” admitted Mokgobu. “I also found it tough running at midnight in Doha. My body could not adjust and I never really got going.”
But Mokgobu, coached by former South African distance running great and 2004 New York City Marathon winner, Hendrick Ramaala, certainly got going at Green Point this morning, staying with the lead pack throughout the race, before surging clear just three kilometres from the finish to win by 6 seconds ahead of fellow Gauteng athlete, and 2016 Olympian, Sibusiso Nzima.
Irvette van Zyl showed she was back to her best, following a mid-year operation, racing to a decisive victory over Retail Langa athlete, Fortunate Chidzivo, in 1:12:11 – the fastest in the last 20 years at the Gun Run and second fastest ever recorded in the race’s history, 1 min 16 sec slower than Elana Van Zyl’s 1999 race record.
“I had a vascular operation in July to correct a blood flow restriction into my right leg. Now the flow is much better, but I now seem to be more prone to cramps!” Van Zyl admitted. “But the race went pretty well today. I had hoped to run faster, but the long climb from 10km took me by surprise and I lost some time there.”
The race proved an absorbing contest up front with two Cape Town based athletes – veteran Lindikhaya Mthangayi and Cape Technikon’s Siboniso Soldaka - keeping pace with five visitors for the first 15km. Zimbabwean Meshack Sithole, former winner, Central Gauteng Nedbank’s Xolisa Tyali and former Cape athlete now running out of Johannesburg, Gladwin Mzazi, joined Mokgobu and Nzima and the Capetonians in the tight battle for race honours.
Khayelitsha pastor, Mthangayi, threw in a surge at 15km which split the pack, leaving Tyali and Soldaka trailing. But when he tried to repeat the tactic with just over three kilometres to run, Mokgobu responded in kind with a surge which took him clear of the field and racing away to victory.
Van Zyl took the lead in the women’s race from the outset and was out of sight of Chidzivo by half way, racing to a pillar to post win. KZN athlete and three times former winner, Jenna Challenor, placed third, with Zintle Xiniwe fourth, the second Cape Town runner in the top five.
Phantane Athletics’ Mbuleli Mathanga and Zimbabwean Rudo Mhonderwa were the respective winners of the 10km in 28:28 and 34:23 respectively.