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Visitors pose big threat to champ Mokoka in Cape Town

In what was supposed to be a battle of the South African record holders, it is Kenya’s Morris Gachaga and Lesotho Olympian Namakoe Nkhasi who now find themselves leading the men’s line-up for Sunday’s FNB Cape Town 12 ONERUN.

Reggie Hufkie writes that with the 2016 FNB Joburg 10k CITYRUN and 2017 Two Oceans Half Marathon titles behind his name, Nkhasi is a threat to any South African long distance athlete.

Having won five out of the six races he competed in this year, the 2016 African Championships 5000-metre finalist’s confidence is sky high.

Boasting a time of just over 63 minutes for the half-marathon, Nkhasi is also a very consistent 29-minute 10km (at altitude) man, meaning anything below 34 minutes over the 12km is his playing field.

‘I’m planning to run under 33 minutes and I’m running my own race,’ mentioned a confident Nkhasi at Friday’s press conference.

Kenya’s  Gachaga, on the other hand, was quite secretive about his time-goal, but boasting with a 27:27 10km and 1:00:35 half-marathon personal best times, he is by far the top athlete on paper.

And it’s evident that the 22-year-old is in the shape of his life, because in March he took honours in the Paris half-marathon, after clocking his 10km best late last year.

Defending champion and South African 10km record holder, Stephen Mokoka, on the other hand, believes that teamwork will ensure that the title stays in South Africa.

‘If we work as a team, we will see fast times,’ said the man who served as a pacemaker for Eliud Kipchoge at Nike’s #Breaking2 attempt two weekends ago.

After a third place finish at the ASA Senior Championships in the men’s 5000m in April, the question whether he is in good shape is on everyone’s lips.

Last year, though, Mokoka worked very closely with Elroy Gelant and it paid dividends when he crossed the line in first place. Gelant, South Africa’s Olympic 5000m finalist, though, is looking to take full honours after his third place finish last year.

‘I’m definitely going for the win. I know what the guys look like in terms of shape. I ran against Namakoe two weeks ago and I looked at what I did wrong, so come Sunday, I will go out and give my best,’ said the Boxer Athletics club athlete.

Nedbank star athlete Sibusiso Nzima, World Student Championships Half Marathon medallist Gladwin Mzazi and the Western Province 5000m champion Nadeel Wildschudt will also be in the mix for honours.

Defending women’s champion Irvette van Zyl had to withdraw from the race, making the women’s race wide open.

With Western Province Athletics’ hero Nolene Conrad back to her old self, Cornelia Joubert, Lebogang Phalula and Rutendo Nyahora will have to dig deep to steal the show on Conrad’s home turf.

After third-place finishes in both the Two Oceans Half Marathon and Spar Women’s Challenge in Port Elizabeth, the 5000m South African Championships bronze medallist will look to out-manoeuvre Joubert, Phalula and Nyahora, who hasn’t shown top shape recently.

Two Oceans marathon second and third place-finishers Jenna Challenor and Tanith Maxwell, and South African marathon champion Mapaseka Makhanya will be hoping to turn the fortunes in their favour over the ‘shorter’ distance.

The R25000 up for grabs for the winner should be a motivator, so let’s see if they can get anywhere close to the 33:31 unofficial world record.

In the picture  are Mokoka and Kenyan rival Gachaga. Picture courtesy of Luke Walker.


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