Mokoka finishes eighth at world half-marathon championships in Bulgaria

2012-10-10 00:00

STEPHEN Mokoka made eighth spot in the weekend world half-marathon championships in Bulgaria.

After a relatively fast start, Mokoka was willing to take a conservative pace behind others when the eager and ambitious made their move.

The Gauteng North runner had the maturity to let others speed off in chase of Zersenay Tadese, who won his fifth world championship title in 60 minutes, 16 seconds.

Having maintained a solid pace for the core of the race, Mokoka picked up the over-zealous runners, who faded as he built his way back from 19th into the top 10 over the final third of the race.

The nature of Mokoka’s performance suggests he is ready to make his mark around the international circuit.

Ironically, had Lucky Mohale adopted a similar tactic, the SA trio, including Gladwin Mzazi, may have snared the third place spot and could certainly have made the top six teams for a share in the prize money.

René Kalmer, it seems, has yet to discover the pacing secret and, while she and her sister Chritsine make an impressive sight in the early kilometres of international distances races, their “go out with the leader approach” does nothing to enhance their international potential.

After spending the first two kilometres with the leaders, Christine disappeared from view, while René fell back as far as 19th before regaining three positions in the closing stage to finish in 73,16, well off the 70 minutes she achieved in the assisted Great North Run last month.

There was 17 minutes between the RSA team and third place, which is a measure of the state of the country’s women’s racing, while the men were separated from sixth by 35 seconds and third by roughly seven minutes.

Gladwin Mzazi and Lucky Mohale placed 18th in 63,46 and 49th in a pedestrian 67,17, while Kalmer was followed by Nolene Conrad (37th), in 77,51, and her sister Christine (46th) in 79,40. Meseret Hailu won the women’s race in 68,55 and led Ethiopia to both individual and team gold.

Another Ethiopian, Tsegaye Kebede, set a course record of 2:04,38 in the Chicago Marathon recording his fourth sub 2:06 and first sub 2:05. It was a clean sweep for Ethiopia with Feyisa Lelisa and Tilahun Regassa taking the minor placings and the top four all under 2:06.

Locally, there was considerable concern when the metro police instructed organisers of the Toti to Scottburgh Marathon to run the race with traffic on the old South Coast Road. However, in the second half of the race, officers seemed to have spotted the obvious dangers and assisted runners to move over to the traditional facing traffic format.

Mosoeunyana Morapalla and Bluff Meat’s Sipho Ngxongo remained close as they powered down the final hill into Hutchinson park, where Morapalla took the line honours in two hours, 28 minutes and 38 seconds, only 100 metres clear of Ngxongo.

Richard Dlamini completed the podium and added the 40-49 age category to his days takings.

Monica Vorster capitalised on her trip to the coast taking the women’s race in 3:14,18. The Boksburg athlete was a kilometre clear of Iris Ndlovu with KZN Striders’ Ursula Wilson in third in 3:19,28.

Nedbank confirmed their continued four-year commitment to running at a media briefing in Johannesburg. The bankers will continue their support of the sport primarily through three properties of Comrades Marathon, The Runners Guide and fixture list and the Nedbank athletics clubs.

There are three road races this weekend, with Ladysmith hosting their annual ABI Hamilton Nite Race from their Klipriver road clubhouse at 5 pm on Saturday. Johan van Dyk has more details on 076 536 7070.

Then, on Sunday, there is the Jeremiah Ngwenya Tribute 10 km run/walk from Edgewood Campus of UKZN starting at 7 am. Jabulani Mhlungu has more details on 073 846 1347.

Finally, up the north coast at Ulundi, there is the Vusi Nxumalo Half Marathon run/walk, which also offers a 10 km distance and starts at the Ulundi Regional Sports Grounds at 6  am. Mbuyiseni Dladla has the details on 082 817 1535.

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