A glance at the entry list suggests it will be a battle between Uganda and South Africa at the second edition of the FNB CitySurfRun in Durban on Sunday.
We take a look at some of the pre-race favourites ahead of the country’s fastest 10km contest.
Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda)
The defending champion has become a regular visitor to South Africa, and he will again line up as the favourite after setting a national open record of 27:28 last year. The silver medallist in the 10 000m race at last year’s World Championships, Cheptegei won the 5 000m/10 000m double at the Commonwealth Games earlier this season. Though he faces a strong field, the lanky star will be difficult to beat on the flat, fast course.
Stephen Kissa (Uganda)
While he is not as well known as his countryman, Kissa is quick and he knows how to put up a fight. With Cheptegei tearing away to win convincingly last year, Kissa was the best of the rest, holding on to finish second in 28:05. Carried by a powerful frame, he is again expected to produce a challenge up front.
Julien Wanders (Switzerland)
One of the few European runners who
Elroy Gelant (South Africa)
After bursting back to form following a hernia operation, clocking 1:01:48 at the SA Half-Marathon Championships in Port Elizabeth in July, Gelant has since struggled to produce similar form over shorter distances. He has proved that he’s still among the best distance runners in the country, however, and with his speed and experience, he could give the foreign contenders a tough time on the road.
Thabang Mosiako (South Africa)
Also continuing his comeback from a layoff after an assault landed him in hospital, Mosiako has been superb in the latter stages of the season. He recently grabbed second place behind Precious Mashele at the SA 10km Championships in Middelburg, edging out Gelant in a late sprint, and he too will be eager to stun the world-class visitors in the field.
Mercyline Chelangat (Uganda)
After winning last year’s race as a teenager, setting a personal best of 31:38, Chelangat will return to defend her crown. The 20-year-old athlete, who earned bronze over 10 000m at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in April, is likely to keep the pace honest from the start.
Stella Chesang (Uganda)
If anyone has displayed the potential to overthrow Chelangat, it’s her compatriot. A former world mountain running champion, 21-year-old Chesang won the Commonwealth 10 000m title at this year’s Gold Coast Games. Having set a 10km personal best of 31:44 in the Netherlands last month, she will be eager to go even quicker in Durban.
Irvette van Zyl (South Africa)
Leading the local charge, in-form athlete Van Zyl is likely to give her Ugandan opponents a real shake. After crossing the line in 32:48 at the recent Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, less than four months after giving birth to her second child, she has the guts and determination to outclass the rest of the quality line-up.
Glenrose Xaba (South Africa)
At the back end of a breakthrough season, Xaba will hope to transform her consistency into a fast time. Though she has not yet indicated she can challenge some of her opponents at their best, she has been the most consistent athlete on the domestic circuit this year, and she will want to take another step forward by chasing a new personal best.
Gerda Steyn (South Africa)
Better known for her performances over ultra-distances, Steyn will look to pounce if any of the speed merchants falter in the second half of the race. Having shown glimpses of her form with solid performances over the 10km distance in recent weeks, she will hope to pick off anyone who goes out too hard as she sharpens up for next month’s New York Marathon.