Stephen Mokoka ran to a record victory at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon this morning, becoming the first South African to claim the laurel wreath since the relaunch of the event in 2014.
Just days before the birth of his first child, Mokoka destroyed the east African challenge with an unstoppable surge at 35km, leaving pretenders Albert Korir and Philemon Kacherian in his wake, before crossing the line in the Green Point Stadium precinct in 2 hrs 08 min 31 sec – 10 seconds inside Ethiopian Asefa Negewo’s 2016 mark.
‘We’re looking to build a great marathon team for the Tokyo Olympics,” said Mokoka. “In London we were very inexperienced, but watch South Africa in 2020! It was great to race a quality marathon in Cape Town – everything was perfect.”
The 24-year-old Kenyan, Albert Korir, and his compatriot Philemon Kacherian took the minor places, Korir finishing 31 seconds behind Mokoka.
Nambian Helalia Johannes made it a double for Southern Africa, when she saw off the powerful challenge of the Ethiopians to become the first woman to break the 2 hrs 30 min mark at Cape Town, improving Kenyan Isabella Ochichi’s four year old record by 52 seconds, winning in 2:29:28.
Johannes is the first woman in 29 years – after Frith van der Merwe in 1989 – to have run the marathon faster than 2 hrs 30 min in South Africa.
“I love running in Cape Town and I’m delighted to have won today after just missing out last year,” Johannes said.
Just five months after winning the Commonwealth Games marathon gold medal, Johannes can claim a second major road victory, in Africa’s sole IAAF gold label marathon.
Tanzanian Failuna Matanga placed second 32 seconds in arrears with Ethiopian Urge DIro third.
Men: 1 Stephen Mokoka (RSA) 2:08:31; 2 Albert Korir (Ken) 2:09:02; 3 Philemon Kacherian (Ken) 2:09:13; 4 Kipsang Kepkemoi (Ken) 2:09:21; 5 Nicholas Rotich (Ken) 2:12:29; 6 Benedict Moeng (RSA) 2:12 52.
Women: 1 Helalia Johannes (Nam) 2:29:28; 2 Failuna Matanga (Tan) 2:30:00; 3 Urge Sokoka Diro (Eth) 2:30:31; 4 Ayantu Abdi (Eth) 2:31:33; 5 Askale Adula (Eth) 2:31:34; 6 Ellie Pashley (Aus) 2:31:52.