Runners listless for the 100km challenge

2014-11-30 15:00

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The SA 100km Championships failed to take off yesterday as there was simply no interest from local distance runners.

Athletics SA road-running commission chairperson James Moloi said a paltry 10 entries had been received for the event, which was the last national race pencilled in on this year’s running calendar.

“There was no interest and, therefore, the race was cancelled,” said Moloi. The race was to be held in Vanderbijlpark, Joburg.

The 100km championship was included in this year’s Athletics SA fixtures by ousted president James Evans, who serves in the International Association of Ultrarunners as the Africa and Oceania representative.

Moloi said the focus going forward would definitely be on developing future marathon runners, but scrapping the 100km race entirely would be one of the matters up for discussion when the Athletics SA board and provincial delegates met early next year.

“In my capacity as the Central Gauteng Athletics president, I will be calling a coaches symposium next year in a mission to develop mid- and long-distance runners.”

SA only had a handful of established marathon runners who competed on the international stage, Moloi noted.

The short list includes the likes of 2013 Shanghai International Marathon winner Stephen Mokoka, Lusapho April, René Kalmer and Irvette van Zyl.

Mokoka (29) is the first South African name that appears in the IAAF world rankings, amid a cluster of athletes from the traditional road-running powerhouses of Kenya and Ethiopia.

The Mahikeng-born athlete clocked a personal best for the season in Shanghai on November 2 when he powered his way to a new course record of 2:08:43.

On the same day, April finished 12th at the New York Marathon in a time of 2:16:50.

Locally, Elroy Gelant, Mapaseka Makhanya and Diana-Lebo Phalula were among the best performers this year.

Mokoka, April and Gelant were also in the SA half-marathon team that finished fourth at the world 21km Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, in March.

Moloi believes that there are too many marathons and some races should be scrapped to accommodate more 10km, 21km and street mile races.

These distances, he said, would lay the foundation for athletes who wanted to launch their careers in the standard marathon.

The Cape Town Marathon and the Peninsula Marathon, also in the Mother City, are SA’s IAAF-listed qualifying and certified marathon courses this year.

The marathons were used as qualifying courses for next year’s IAAF World Championships, to be held in Beijing.

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