15 AUG 2010 General News Paarl, South Africa

Mokoka and van Blerk take South African 10Km titles

Stephen Mokoka (126) en route to the men's South African 10Km title (Mark Ouma)Stephen Mokoka (126) en route to the men's South African 10Km title (Mark Ouma) © Copyright
Stephen Mokoka and Irvette van Blerk emerged winners at the South Africa 10km Championships staged in Paarl, Western Cape South Africa on Saturday (14).

Several athletes covered the distance in the fastest times of their running careers. The event also served as a time trial to gauge the fitness levels of athletes aspiring to make the team to the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Nanning, China in October.

Men’s race –

Mokoka got off to a businesslike start creating a gap up front as he covered the opening three kilometres in 8:38.  It took a concerted effort and increased pace for the chasing group to catch up. The group consisted of Sipembele Fanekho, Lucky Mohale, Jeffrey Gwebu, Zamlandela Nkosi, Lungisa Mdedelwa, Sibusiso Nzima Samuel Segoaba, Lindikhaya Mthanganyi and Zolani Ntongana.

Gwebu took over the lead at 4km (11:36), before Mokoka again surged ahead with a fartlek that broke up the lead group at 6km. From then on only Mdedelwa, Nzima and Mohale, remained in contention.

The defining moment came with three kilometres left when Mokoka delivered the decisive break. He went on to win the race in 28:23. Mdedelwa (28:28), Nzima (28:29) and Mohale (28:31) followed with each covering the distance in a career best time.

“I came to run fast pushing the pace but also to be careful just in case someone was biding time for the big break in the last three kilometres,” Mokoka said. “With two kilometres to the finish I decided to run my own race.”

“This is a confidence building win. With this winning time I will be invited to the Bupa North Run in Britain. It is time to challenge the business on the world stage,” Mokoka declared.

Women’s race –

The women’s race started very much in the same fashion as their male counterparts with Irvette van Blerk, April Thozama and Zintle Xiniwe taking charge up front. Nolene Conrad, Mpho Mabusa and Christine Kalmer followed closely.

Then Xiniwe made her move in the eight kilometre. Van Blerk responded as Thozama begun to fade. However Xiniwe’s charge was not sufficiently decisive as Van Blerk re-took the lead in the last 200m and went onto win in 33:23. Ziniwe (33:27) was second as Thozama (33:54) claimed third spot.

“Two national championship titles in as many meets is great and a first for me,” Van Blerk said. “The pace at this race was fast from the beginning. What gave me that extra edge was I wanted to add the SA 10km title to the SA Half Marathon title I won last month in (Motherwell township) Nelson Mandela Bay. I am shaping up well for the World Half Marathon Championships,” says Van Blerk.

Mark Ouma for the IAAF

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