2-Oceans for Mokoka as preparation for Paris Olympics Marathon



Published Mar 8, 2024


STEPHEN MOKOKA has long established himself as a special athlete. Such are his achievements that the crown of a South African running legend sits pretty comfortably on his signature uncombed head.

A renowned marathon specialist having progressed from track through cross country, he is set to cement his running legacy when he makes his debut in the 56km Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon next month.

Never one to go with the crowd, Mokoka’s decision to run the famous ultra is totally different from the norm – Two Oceans usually being used by runners to prepare for the much longer Comrades Marathon. The Hollywood Running Club newbie (by membership) is going against the grain as usual – running an ultra to prepare for a standard marathon.

“My coach and I - the team - we work on plans and programs. And we noticed that the (Paris) Olympics marathon route has a 400 (metres) elevation. The route won’t be what I normally run. I’ve always done flat races. That’s why I have refused to run Boston and New York (marathons) because they are muscular,” Mokoka explained at a media briefing during which Hollywood announced their Two Oceans team.

And with Paris set to be hilly, Mokoka and legendary coach Michael ‘Sponge’ Seme agreed that running Two Oceans with its undulating course that has inclines of about a kilometre inclusive of the huge climbs at Chapman’s Peak and Constantia Nek would be ideal preparation for the athlete’s Olympic preparation.

Having failed to complete the race on his Olympic marathon debut during the previous Games in Tokyo, Mokoka is keen to make amends and is leaving nothing to chance. That he runs for a club that has allowed him to focus on the Olympics, Mokoka considers himself blessed.

“I am grateful for the club to allow me the leeway to have just three races this year because it is Olympics year. We’ve got an Olympics with a high elevation and with this race my body will be stronger and ready for the Games.”

Though he will be training for Paris on April 13, such is Mokoka’s pedigree that he will toe the start line as one of the favourites to win Two Oceans, after all with his 2:06 PB, he is sure to be the fastest marathoner in Cape Town.

Will he be going for victory? Some would even ask, does he feel up to challenging Thompson Magawana’s long-standing record of 3:03:44 set back in 1988?

“Everything is (going to be) very new for me; the pace will be different - new for me. For you to break the record, you want a 2:16 marathon and with those rolling hills and inclines, I will have to pace myself at a race where it is a pace I am not used to. So I have to hold my body, everything is going to be just new, so I will stick to what the coach instructs me to do and hopefully whatever the plan it will work out.”

He is going to exe3rcise patience, he says.

“I will take things step by step at Two Oceans. I will pace myself well and make sure I keep my heart rate as normal as possible. I am going to be systematic whether going up or down so as to be on point. It will all depend on what time the coach gives me to run. We have to calculate what time we will have before the Olympics after that race to decide how we approach it.”

He is a competitive athlete though and Mokoka is sure to be just as driven as he always is whenever he lines up for a race. So, can he win?

“I am going to give it my best shot. But we must move away from the fastest marathoner tag because this one is 14km more than a marathon. I now have to race 56km, I normally race two hours plus, now I must do three hours plus. (Of course) I want to win too, and I want to benefit from the race. I want to have stronger legs, a bigger heart and my VO Max to increase ahead of the Olympics. So, first I want to finish, hopefully get all my fluids and not miss my bottle, see what position I can finish and how fast I can run.”

Mokoka is one of eight runners that will represent Hollywoodbets Running Club in the Two Oceans ultra. Irvette van Zyl returns after missing last year’s edition due to injury.

The rest of the team is Loveness Madziva, Makhosi Mhlongo, Zinhle Shabalala, Melissa Jansen Van Vuuren, Ts’epo Ramashamole and Joseph Seutloali.

Related Topics:

Olympics Events