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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'They must race less' - Mokoka advises Mashele & Mathanga ahead of ABSA Durban 10k CITYRUN

A room of journalists broke out into spontaneous applause upon hearing Stephen Mokoka's thoughts about the importance of having well-paying short distance running events in South Africa. The ABSA RUNYOURCITY Series is in KwaZulu-Natal this weekend for the ABSA Durban 10k CITYRUN which will be run along the beachfront promenade on Sunday morning. Fresh from winning the Cape Town Marathon just two weeks ago, Mokoka will be taking on the man of the moment Precious Mashele for the SA 10km title. And Tshipi, as he is fondly known in athletics circles said he was happy to see the likes of Mashele being given the opportunity to make money and provide for their families without having to run marathons or ultra marathons.

Stephen Mokoka speaking to the media ahead of Sunday's ABSA Durban 10k CITYRUN. Photo Credit: ABSA RUNYOURCITYSERIES.

"People were happy when I won the marathon in Cape Town because the title was staying at home. But I was happy when I heard that Mashele ran 60:00 and also when I heard that Mbuleli (Mathanga) ran a 60:17. So knowing that there are young boys who are pushing is awesome," he said during a pre-race press conference at the Southern Sun Elangeni. "I hope that they come together and they must race less. Thanks to Stillwater Sports for arranging this series because what Stillwater is doing for our country is awesome and I like it because they are doing it in the shorter distances," said the 36-year old SA 10km road record holder (27:38) praising 30-year old Mashele.

Nodding his head during Mokoka's impassioned address was Stillwater Sports Managing Director Michael Meyer who explained that they were inspired by big city marathons around the world but wanted to replicate that vibe over a more accessible distance. "I think there was research done by World Athletics recently to look at what are the favourite distances of people that do road running across the globe. And 61% prefer to run 5km to 10km with only 3% running the marathon. And so we were trying to create a mass participation series that encourages people to at least do something in their lives that's healthy. But the reason why we combine it with an elite athlete programme is because these guys inspire us to run better, to train better, to be better," he explained.

"Us in South Africa having an opportunity like that, I am grateful. And I hope that ABSA and Stillwater will go throughout the country so we can have a series like this in the nine provinces. I think Precious is getting this opportunity but he is ageing as well. So I hope we don't go through this with the young ones. At least if the young ones get this opportunity to race at home and make sure that we run fast, it will be awesome for our country," he concluded.

Tayla Kavanagh in action in Gqeberha where she ran 32:51 to finish second behinf overall SPAR 10km Gran Prix winner Tadu Nare of Ethiopia. Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott.

The ABSA Durban 10k CITYRUN takes place on Sunday 31 October and will be broadcast live on SABC2 and SuperSport channel 209 from 5:45. It's Mokoka vs Mashele in the men's race while Glenrose Xaba and the Phalula twins will be up against the exciting young Murray and Roberts prospect Tayla Kavanagh who ran under 33 minutes during the Gqeberha leg of the SPAR Women's 10km series earlier this month.

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