CAPE TOWN - The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon should have a new winner for the first time in three years and there’s a host of runners capable of sprinting away with the title of Africa’s only IAAF Gold Label Status race.

While Stephen Mokoka will lead the local charge to replace Asefe Negawo as king of Cape Town to end the foreign domination of the race, the foreign brigade will once again have a very strong contingent running the Mother City streets on September 23.

Two-time winner Negawo is a non-starter according to Nedbank Running Club’s international athletes manager Craig Fry, but there will be no shortage of east African stars to take the mantle from the Ethiopian.

“The defending champion is not in the start line-up. He might be running another race somewhere in the world. He ran his fastest time of 2:04 in Dubai recently and that race saw him earn $60,000 US. I do not think he will be coming.” But the Nedbank Club will still be well represented. “We have other good athletes coming down to Cape Town, ” said Fry.

Leading the pack is Kenyan Kenneth Kiplagat, who has a personal best marathon time of 2hr 11min, while his compatriot Hezekial Tarus will be back eager to improve on his seventh place finish last year. Zimbabwe’s Munyaradzi Jari (2:14 PB) will also be among those chasing glory.

“Kiplagat is my dark horse to win in Cape Town. I believe he’s good for a 2:08," said Fru. "Tarus finished second in the Township to Township Marathon and I think he is more matured now. I have no doubt he will improve on his 2:14 from last year. 

"Jari had a great run at the OR Tambo Marathon, where he ran a PB. So we’ve got a good group representing us in Cape Town,” Fry enthused, adding that people should also look out for Moses Lekuraa.

“He is a from Kenya and he’s very fast. He has a 28 minutes in the 10km and his half-marathon PB is 62 minutes, achieved at high altitude in Kenya. Of course it will be a tough race and it will probably require a 2:08 to win.”

There will also be a strong foreign women's contingent, Fry said, highlighting Kenyans Nancy Koech and Dorcas Kiptarus as the ones to watch. “Nancy is an improving athlete. She ran a 2:32 in 2016 and has a PB of 2:29, which she ran in South Korea last year. Dorcas ran 2:40 in the Nairobi Marathon and has a 2:35 PB from 2016, but she is targeting 2:27 in Cape Town.”

Fry believes that the Cape Town Marathon is a great chance for local athletes to get the chance to run top marathons around the world. “The course is flat. It presents local athletes the opportunity to showcase their talent,” explained Fry, who said he wishes the current crop could have the kind of drive shown by some of the country’s former road running stars.

"A position in the top 10 will give them a chance to negotiate to run in the other big races in the world, and a time of 2:08 and under will open great doors for them. We are short of athletes like Willie Mtolo and Matthews Temane. Those guys could compete with any other athletes in the world when they were on form. We have enough talent here but they just don’t seem to be doing enough to put themselves out there."

Independent Media is the offical media partner of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon

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