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Gachaga runs 12km world best on home soil

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Twenty-two-year-old Morris Gachaga stamped his authority as Kenya’s new long-distance sensation when he stormed to a new 12-kilometre world best time of 33min 27sec at Sunday’s FNB Cape Town 12 ONERUN.

Despite competing against a strong South African contingent led by Boxer Athletics Club teammates Elroy Gelant and Olympian Stephen Mokoka, Gachaga managed to surge his way into the record books in the latter stages of the race.

After a lead pack consisting of David Manja, Sibusiso Nzima, Gladwin Mzazi, Gelant, Namakoe Nkhasi and four other athletes went through the early stages of the race together, Gachaga seemed to have things his way when he surged and only two athletes responded.

Still together approaching the 9km mark, he surged again and it was here where the first South African athlete Gelant and Lesotho’s Namakoe Nkhasi realised they were in trouble.

With a lead of about 10 seconds with 3km to go, the young Kenyan meant serious business when he threw in more surges to get rid of Gelant and Nkhasi to win the race in a new 12km world best.

His time is four seconds faster than Sammy Kitwara’s 33:31 set in 2009. Nkhasi managed to clock 33:43 to finish second place while Gelant had to settle for yet another third-placed finish in 33:54. Defending champion Mokoka ran 34:43 to secure the sixth spot in the men’s race.

In similar fashion, Great Britain’s Tish Jones stormed to the front and never looked back. Passing the 10km mark in just over 33 minutes, she managed to cross the line in 39:50 to win the women’s race, 18 seconds ahead of KPMG’s Nolene Conrad. Maria Shai also made her presence felt by staying hot on Conrad’s heels, but she failed to capitalise, finishing third in 41:14.

The junior women’s race, though, provided some drama when a revived Ashleigh Simonis put up a great effort to beat 2017 South African junior 800m, 1500m and 3000m winner Simonay Weitsz.

World Cross Country Championships representative Rohwaldo Ratz, meanwhile, crossed the line in 37:56 to take the junior men’s title, an indication that the University of Western Cape athlete is in the shape of his life.

With more than 14,000 runners taking to the streets of Cape Town, it was very much a running festival and the Mother CIty was rewarded with that world best 12km time.

Picture of Gachaga breaking the tape courtesy of Tobias Ginsberg


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