JOHANNESBURG - In attracting the London world championships 10,000m silver medallist Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, FNB Durban 10K CITYSURFRUN organisers have made their intentions clear of making it the fastest race in 2017.
The inaugural Durban race scheduled for October 8 will be on a fast, flat course starting in front of Moses Mabhida Stadium and finishing in the Beachfront Precinct adjacent to the stadium.
Speaking from Kampala, Uganda, Cheptegei said he hoped for a fast race. “I am looking forward to this and want to run a very fast time,” he said.
“It is a great honour for me to be invited to this race and I will do my best to make sure it is all everyone expects.”
South African 10km record holder Stephen Mokoka has been included as one of the marquee athletes.
Cheptegei and Mokoka lined up against each other in the 10,000m at the world championships last month.
The South African finished towards the back of the field in 20th place while Cheptegei tussled with six-time world champion Mo Farrah of Britain for a close silver.
Mokoka was looking forward to the challenge of showing South Africa can hold its own against the best in the world on home soil. “We need to show South African’s how good we are,” he said.
“To be able to do that at home is very important. It helps grow the sport by encouraging more people to run and also inspires our youngsters to believe that they can compete with the best.”
A seasoned Run Your City Series campaigner, Mokoka won gold at the FNB Cape Town 12 ONERUN in 2016.
The versatile distance ace said the Durban race would be ideal to go after the national record of 27:38 he set at the 2015 Great Manchester Run.
“When we race against these athletes at home, we must put on a show,” Mokoka said.
“The course is flat. With athletes like Joshua Cheptegei in the field, it will be fast. I think that I can break my own SA record.”
Organisers announced an incentive of R300,000 for the first SA athlete to break the national record and R500,000 for a world record. Leonard Patrick Komon of Kenya set the global mark of 26:44 back in 1988.
Locals are in for a treat as Mokoka has a slight edge on the road over Cheptegei, who boasts a best of 27:46 for 10km.