28 October 2012 - Portsmouth, UK - Stephen Mokoka and Jo Pavey produced very contrasting performances in their respective victories at the Bupa Great South Run - an IAAF Gold Label 10 miles Race - in Portsmouth on Sunday (28).
Mokoka, on a damp English morning, toyed with the opposition from start to finish before sprinting ahead of Ayad Lamdassem and Tariku Bekele with just under 250 metres remaining to win the men's race in 46 minutes 40 seconds.
Pavey, regaining the title she claimed in her first major international road race six years ago, hammered her rivals when hitting the front from the beginning, took a runaway success ahead of Jess Coulson and Berhane Adere in 53:01.
The women's race beginning 20 minutes before the mass contest which had a record 25,000 entries from 45 different countries and was led by the elite men, saw Pavey produce a ruthless performance when triumphing by 42 seconds from the vastly improving Coulson with Ethiopia's Adere recording 53:55.
Pavey now 39-year-old, but adamant she can continue her career and make a fifth successive Olympic Games appearance in four year’s time, ruthlessly brushed away not only the overseas challengers but the younger domestic pretenders itching to scalp one of the UK's greatest ever distance runners.
The leading non-African finisher in this summer's Olympic 5000m and 10,000m finals breezed through the first mile in 5:17 opening a 20-metre lead. By the half distance she had increased that to over 200 metres, her foreign rivals Adere, Alessandra Aguilar of Spain and Italy's Nadia Ejjafini being left flat footed by her unexpected fast start.
So too were the Brit contingent notably fellow Olympians Claire Hallissey who posted the previous fastest UK 10 mile time this year of 54:37 in Washington DC in the spring and debutant over the distance Julia Bleasdale who at the London Games was a position behind Pavey in both track races.
Pavey's awesome front running also thwarted the ambitions of Coulson who nevertheless after a spell of niggling injuries showed she is regaining the form which identified her as a very talented teenager and Gemma Steel tipped as a likely winner after a recent purple patch but who fell off the pace in the last mile.
But Pavey apart from showing strain on her face in the final two miles on what she admitted felt like a never ending finishing straight stretch produced a victory reminiscent of when Paula Radcliffe set the British record in Portsmouth of 51:11 in 2008.
"I just thought I would go off at a reasonable pace and plug away," said Pavey, who was surprised she went unchallenged but delighted with her form before competing in next month's Yokohama Marathon. "I tried not to take off too quickly."
"I like a flat course and this really suits me but the last two miles were very hard. That's because you're giving it your final effort as you can see the finish line in the distance ahead of you. They were hard but I knew what to expect.
"All you can see is a straight line but I loved the challenge of it. You need to add a bit of sharpness but it's always a worry going into a race when you're training for a Marathon."
Pavey, who had to concentrate on the track after Hallissey, following her outstanding performance in last April's Virgin London Marathon was preferred by Team GB selectors, made it plain she intends carrying on until at least the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"The crowds were brilliant and I was really pleased how it went and I'd like to keep going," she insisted. "I'm getting older but still enjoying it."
Mokoka, runner-up behind Mo Farah three years ago when losing out by just a second but setting a South African best ever performance of 46:26 in a nail biting finish, savoured his high profile victory.
The 27-year-old, in a line up which included Bekele the Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist and Abel Kirui the Games Marathon runner up who is eager to chase a third successive World Marathon win next year, always looked the likely winner.
Throughout the race he kept hitting the front opening a gap of a few yards before constantly falling back to the pack and asking them to speed up which saw Kirui try and inject some pace which had slowed after a fast opening mile of 4:34.
Mokoka, a late entry for the meeting, maintained his tactics throughout the race before finally in the last two miles breaking clear along with Bekele and Lamdassem to set up what was going to be a great conclusion to the race.
Spain's Lamdassem, a two-time European Cross Country silver medallist, passed his rivals with 400m remaining to get a few strides ahead, but Mokoka reined him in to win by a two seconds with Bekele not able to go flat out still recovering from a hamstring injury, third in 46:45.
"In 2009 I was outsprinted by Mo by a few metres and disappointed," said Mokoka, who is preparing for the Shanghai Marathon in December. "When I started the race my knees were freezing until between three and four miles.
"That's when we started to warm up and could push the pace," although despite his chivvying of the leading pack no one really attempted to put their foot on the accelerator.
"I am very happy with my run against these guys," added the 2012 Olympian who took part in the Marathon. "You gain confidence from winning races like this. It reminded me of 2009 with the crowds cheering at every point particularly four, six and nine miles.
"It makes you keep pushing hard and on this occasion I got the win. I am very happy and if they invite me again I will definitely come and do the race."
Andrew Lemoncello was the leading Briton and although falling away after eight miles had the accolade of beating Kirui across the line and reducing his personal best by over half a minute when recording a 2012 UK leading mark of 47:08 in fifth position.
Gareth Turnbull for IAAF
1. Stephen Mokoka (South Africa) 46:40
2. Ayad Lamdassem (Spain) 46:44
3. Tariku Bekele (Ethiopia) 46:45
4. Daniele Meucci (Italy) 46:50
5. Andrew Lemoncello (GBR) 47:08
6. Abel Kirui ( Kenya) 47:12
7. Jonny Mellor (GBR) 47:35
8. Reid Coolsaet (Canada) 47:50
9. Alistair Cragg (Ireland) 48:25
10. Pat Martin (GBR) 48:30
11. Rui Silva (Portugal) 48:47
12. Luke Cragg (GBR) 48:49
1. Jo Pavey (GBR) 53:01
2. Jess Coulson (GBR) 53:43
3. Berhane Adere (Ethiopia) 53:55
4. Nadia Ejjafini (Italy) 53:55
5. Gemma Steel (GBR) 53:57
6. Alessandra Aguilar (Spain) 53:57
7. Annie Bersagel (USA) 54:00
8. Emma Pallant (GBR) 55:26
9. Julia Bleasdale (GBR) 55:35
10. Noriko Matsuoka (Japan) 56:08