Cape Town - Stephen Mokoka will be back to defend his title at the Cape’s premier 12km road race, the third annual FNB Cape Town 12 ONERUN on Sunday, May 21, 2017.
Mokoka needed every ounce of experience, grit and determination to thwart the challenge of 2015 runner up, Daniel Salel, in the 2016 race.
This year he will be aiming for a bigger victory margin than the nail-biting one second of 2016 when he takes to the start the line at Woodbridge Island in Milnerton.
Mokoka will, however, face a new foreign challenge in the likes of Morris Munene Gachaga from Kenya and Ethiopia’s Walelign Belachew.
Gachaga is a class act and a very real threat to the title defence of Mokoka. With personal bests of 28:32 for 10km on the road and just over one hour for the half marathon, Gachaga could well prove to be a thorn in the side of Mokoka. Gachaga has been consistent over the half marathon distance, running under 61 minutes thrice in the last 18 months. His latest appearance over 21km being clocked at 60:38 when he won the Paris Half Marathon in March, just three seconds shy of his best.
“I have heard a lot about the race and am looking forward to racing in Cape Town,” says Gachaga.
“I know the route is flat, fast and conducive to good racing, so I will make sure I am in good shape come race day. I know it won’t be easy with Mokoka in the race, he always makes it tough, but I am confident that I can do well.”
Walelign Belachew is also a strong contender. At only 18 years of age, he has already clocked 29:52 for 10km on the road.
Throw in the mix arch-rival and friend Elroy Gelant, Lucky Mohale, Desmond Mokgobu and David Manja, and the prospects of a mouth-watering clash look very good.
The 2016 FNB Joburg 10K CITYRUN winner, Namakoe Nkasi of Lesotho is also not to be overlooked. Nkasi has shown both Mokoka and Gelant a clean pair of heals on more than one occasion. The quietly spoken Lesotho athlete will be a dangerous contender. Nkasi has definitely developed a taste for the 10km distance.
Mokoka recently acted as pacemaker for Eliud Kipchoge at his breaking2 attempt and is in good form coming into the race.
“I want to defend my title,” says Mokoka.
“Pacing for Eliud (Kipchoge) showed me that I am in good form. It is important for me to make sure the title stays in South Africa.”