By Mark Etheridge
Rio Olympian Dominique Scott will finally be taking a well-earned breather from athletics from Sunday… but not before she looks to end her season on a high at the FNB Durban 10K CITYSURFRUN in the morning.
Twenty-five-year-old Scott jetted into her home town, Cape Town from the US on Monday evening and then moved on to Durban on Thursday.
She’s had a great season on both track and road with personal bests in both track and road disciplines and Sunday’s race will, in all probability, be just another reminder to the athletics powers that be that she should have been part of the South African team to the IAAF World Championships in London two months ago.
‘Organisers have brought in six international men and six international women and there are some very good runners here,’ she told Team SA.
‘Looking at their PR’s [personal records] makes for impressive reading but one never knows at what stage of their training they are or exactly what shape they’re in. On paper I’m around the middle of the pack and there’s one girl who has broken 31 minutes on the road.’
Up against her will be the likes of Kenyan duo Paskalia Chepkorir and Veronica Nyaruai while 19-year-old Mercyline Chelangat of Uganda was timed at 31:40.48 on the track in Rio last year when she finished 13th in the women’s 10 000m final at the Olympic Games.
Chelangat also has a 15:09.45 time behind her in the 5000m, making her a very dangerous contender, especially after her recent win in the Dam-tot-Dam 10 Mile race in Amsterdam on 17 September.
Durban has a reputation for being hot and humid as the summer season approaches but Scott shows little concern.
‘Back in Fayetteville, Arkansas we’re making the transition to autumn now and Durban is also changing season so conditions aren’t a whole lot different.
‘We’re seeing the race route tomorrow [Saturday] but it looks pretty fast and flat and mainly out and back with not a lot of twists and turns, just a few roundabouts.’
Her 10km best on the road is the 32min 22sec she ran late June in Boston, US and the bad news for competitors is that, if anything she’s in even better shape right now.
‘When I didn’t make the team for worlds my season was all over the place and as things worked out I ended up doing a lot more speedwork and it’s turned into a very long season.’
Scott won’t be looking at producing too many heroics early on but rather concentrate on making sure she’s ready to be part of the final mix.
‘I just want to make sure I put myself in it and hopefully go for the leaders and then see how I feel. The fact that I’ve done a lot of speedwork means my legs are ready to turn over fast. Obviously I’d love to win in front of a home South African crowd to bring my season to an end.’
After Sunday’s race she’ll jet off back to Cape Town for a well-deserved break.
‘I’m in Cape Town till the 19th of October and there won’t be any running from me… just a few mountain hikes maybe.
‘Then I’ll gradually start training again when I’m home and get ready for the indoor season in January and we’ll see if there are any track races here I can come back for.’
Sunday’s race starts at 8am and in the men’s race there should also be fireworks.
Spearheading the men’s line up is World Championship 10 000m silver medallist, Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda and the fastest man ever over 12km, Morris Gachaga (pictured above).
Both indicated they are interested in a fast time on Sunday. The fastest in the world this year for 10km for the men is the 27:10 run in Prague last month by Bernard Kimeli. Gachaga has even hinted at running under 27 minutes. Only one athlete has ever achieved this feat, that being Leonard Patrick Komon, when he clocked 26:44 in Utrecht in 2010.
‘My training and time trials show that a sub 27 is possible. If the guys go with the pace, I think we can do it. But I want to run fast. So the race will be fast,’ said Gachaga at Friday’s press conference.
The 22-year-old Kenyan already has the world’s fastest time ever run over 12km behind his name when he won the FNB Cape Town 12 ONERUN in May in a time of 33:27 – taking four seconds off the previous best.
Cheptegei showed that he is not afraid to take the race to his rivals when he opened a huge gap at the World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda in March this year.
Spurred on by the vocal home crowd, Cheptegei opened a 12-second lead over his main rival, Geoffrey Kamworor, before he hit the wall in spectacular fashion within the final 500m. He ended up 30th, a huge disappointment which only served to spur him on even more.
Cheptegei made up for his disappointment at the World Cross Country Championships by pushing Mo Farah, arguably the current greatest middle distance athlete, in the men’s 10 000m final at the World Championships in August this year. He may have had to settle for the silver medal, but Cheptegei gave Farah a real scare and in the process went under 27 minutes for the 10 000m.
‘I learnt a lot from Kampala (the World Cross Country Championships). I know Morris is a strong, aggressive runner. His attacking style suits me, as I also like to attack the race.
‘I believe that between the two of us and the challenge from the likes of Stephen Mokoka, we can do something special here in Durban,’ said Cheptegei. ‘Mokoka is dangerous. You should never write him off. I also expect that somebody like Elroy Gelant will also want to show just how good he is in front of the ‘home crowd’.’
Mokoka has indicated that he is keen to break his own SA 10km record which currently stands at 27:38, run in Manchester in 2015.
‘This is a quality field. I owe the South African public a record on home soil, and this is just the race in which to do it. With Joshua (Cheptegei) and Morris (Gachaga) in the line-up, you know it will be fast. I know Elroy (Gelant) is looking for a fast race and he is the fastest South African this year.
‘So I can promise you that we will be leaving everything out there on Sunday,’ said Mokoka. ‘Races like this are exactly what we need here at home to raise our standard and build our confidence.
‘We’re very grateful to Stillwater Sports and KZN Athletics for hosting this race. If conditions suit, it will be the fastest race ever seen in South Africa.’
Bot pictures courtesy of Rogan Ward. Main picture of the international women runners shows Scott second from right