Local road running star Stephen Mokoka continued his lengthy domestic reign with another fine performance in the men’s race at the SA Half-Marathon Championships in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, while Janet Mbhele ran the race of her life to take the women’s title.
Both races were fast, as was expected with strong international contingents taking part in the lucrative open event, and memorable battles were produced.
Catapulting himself clear with his thunderous kick in a sprint finish, Mokoka defended his title in style, earning the SA half-marathon crown for the eighth time in his career. He breasted the tape in 1:01:44, completing the 21.1km contest two seconds ahead of foreign athlete Benard Bil. Mokoka dragged the first seven men under 1:02:00 in a hard-fought race, with compatriots Elroy Gelant and Gladwin Mzazi earning silver and bronze respectively in the chase for the national crown.
Results: 1 Stephen Mokoka (AGN) 1:01:44, 2 Benard Bill (Nedbank) 1:01:46, 3 Linus Ruto (Nedbank) 1:01:48, 4 Elroy Gelant (ACNW) 1:01:48, 5 Gladwin Mzazi (CGA) 1:01:49, 6 Desmond Mokgobu (CGA) 1:01:50, 7 Thabang Mosiako (ACNW) 1:01:59, 8 Precious Mashele (CGA) 1:02:02, 9 Joel Mmone (ACNW) 1:02:29, 10 Lebenya Nkoka (Lesotho) 1:02:33
Though Mbele shone from a domestic perspective, she took a back seat while the international entrants controlled the race up front. Seven-time Soweto Marathon winner Mamorallo Tjoka of Lesotho earned victory in 1:10:46, with the top five women running under 1:13:00. Mbhele settled for sixth place overall but she did enough to win the SA title for the first time. Further back, Lebogang Phalula and Christine Kalmer closed out the top 10 in the open race, bagging silver and bronze in the national championships.
Results: 1 Mamorallo Tjoka (Lesotho) 1:10:46, Helalia Johannes (Namibia) 1:10:51, 3 Susy Chemaimak (Nedbank) 1:12:32, 4 Neheng Khatala (Nedbank) 1:12:42, 5 Genet Habela (Nedbank) 1:12:57, 6 Janet Mbhele (KZNA) 1:13:07, 7 Betha Chikanga (Zimbabwe) 1:14:00, 8 Rudo Mhonderwa (Nedbank) 1:14:41, 9 Lebogang Phalula (CGA) 1:15:31, 10 Christine Kalmer (CGA) 1:15:34