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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Achol goes Sub 29 in Valencia after breakthrough run at Absa RUN YOUR CITY JOBURG 10K

After becoming the first woman in history to break the 29 minute 10km barrier in Valencia yesterday, Agnes Ngetich has become an overnight sensation. Ngetich joins the long list of Kenyan middle and long distance world record holders, after stopping the clock in a scarcely believable 28:46. For a country like South Africa where the great Elana Meyer's 22-year-old national record is more than two minutes slower, yesterday's performance might leave more than a few in the SA running community despondent at the growing chasm between local and international athletics. But there is a silver lining.

Taking second place in 28:57 to become only the second woman on planet Earth to run 10km under 29 minutes was Emmaculate Acholi. What makes her performance noteworthy is that just eighteen months ago, she ran her first race outside Kenya, the Absa RUN YOUR CITY JOBURG 10K. Winning that hilly race at altitude in 33:50 just thirteen seconds ahead of Mzansi's Glenrose Xaba was her breakout performance which opened the doors of European racing.

Emmaculate Achol and Glenrose Xaba fighting it out on the streets on Joburg on 24 September 2022. Photo Credit: Felix Dlanga.

"I knew that I would win. I said to myself before the start of the race that I'm putting everything in God's hands. The course very hard. After 7km, I turned around to see that there were no ladies behind me, so that's when I decided to kick," she said after winning the race which was run along the M1 highway. It's a performance that should motivate SA's elite athletes because it illustrates just how fine the margins between global star and local performer are when key opportunities are taken - opportunities that are increasingly available to South African top runners.

"We've seen the level of South African middle-distance running improve immensely over the last couple of years. This can be attributed to the fact that SA’s elites are being given more opportunities to race against the world’s best athletes on home soil," said Managing Director of Stillwater Sports and Founder of the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series Michael Meyer leading up to then world record holder Yalemzerf Yehualaw's Absa RYC debut in Durban last July.

That proven track record of bringing the best in the world, while paying time incentives to local runners means that the Absa RUN YOUR CITY series, which is will stop in Gqeberha, Cape Town, Durban, Tshwane and Joburg this year will once again top of the agenda for the country's best middle distance athletes. But it's not just with elite athletes that the series is favourite. In 2023, the series drew over 40 000 participants across the five races to scoop the Hollard Sports Industry Awards' Active and Well Being Award.

Thousands of social runners enjoying the Absa RUN YOUR CITY series. Photo Credit: Stillwater Sports.

"It is a tremendous honour for the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series to receive the 2023 Active and Wellbeing Award. This recognition underscores our commitment to promoting an active and healthy lifestyle, and we are grateful for the acknowledgment of our efforts in making a positive impact on the sports industry and the wellbeing of our participants. A massive thank you to our sponsors, partners, and all the incredible entrants whose ongoing support is the key to the continued success of the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series," said Meyer.

Click HERE to enter the 2024 Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series.

GQEBERHA 10K - 7 April, 2024

CAPE TOWN 10K - 12 May, 2024

DURBAN 10K - 7 July, 2024

TSHWANE 10K - 25 August, 2024

JOBURG 10K - 24 September, 2024

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