Tough going for Mokoka at Tokyo Marathon

Stephen Mokoka (Gallo Images)
Stephen Mokoka (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - After making his presence felt in the early stages, Stephen Mokoka struggled to find top gear on Sunday, eventually settling for 36th position at the Tokyo Marathon in Japan.

Mokoka steered clear of the leaders after a fast start, tucking himself into a large chase group.

However, having coasted through 15km in 45:12 - just 13 seconds off national record pace - Mokoka battled in the second half.

Though he managed to fight through the pain and fatigue to reach the finish, Mokoka completed the 42.2km distance in 2:16:53, well outside his personal best of 2:07:40.

"It was a tough day," Mokoka admitted after the race.

"I hit a wall and I was just hurting after 24km, so I had to find a way to finish."

While he was grinding out a result, Kenyan star Wilson Kipsang broke away from countryman Dickson Chumba at the 35km mark and charged ahead to win the World Marathon Majors race in 2:03:58, missing the world record by 61 seconds.

Another Kenyan, Sarah Chepchirchir, earned the elite women's title in 2:19:47.

Earlier, veteran South African athlete Ernst van Dyk, who finished second in Tokyo last year, had settled for ninth position in the men's wheelchair contest in 1:30:15.

Sho Watanabe gave Japan a home win, securing victory in 1:28:01, while Amanda McGrory of the United States won the women's wheelchair race in 1:43:27.

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