Confirmed! Mokoka to run Absa RYC 10k and says he's ready to run fastest 10k by SAfrican on SA soil
When he announced his withdrawal from the World Championships marathon by way of a social media post a few weeks ago, the collective hearts of the South African running faithful sank. Having finished in fifth over the same distance at the last edition of the World Champs in Doha in 2019, Stephen Mokoka carried many's hopes of a medal in Eugene, Oregon. But perhaps more worrying was the severity of the injury and what that would mean for the rest of the 37-year-old's racing season. But Mokoka has assured his fans that his injury is not too bad and he will be running on Sunday.
"Training is good. I just got it messed up in terms of the marathon preparation," he told the thousands who had tuned into watch a live online broadcast promoting Sunday's Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10k. "You know marathon training and 10k training or a half marathon is two different ball games. My manager always says that the marathon is a different sport. So me missing two long runs kind of messed up everything but the body is looking great. The body is light, the body is fantastic."
That assessment of his physical capabilities will leave many quaking in their running shoes because the fastest South African ever to run 10km (27:38) still has unfinished business over the distance. Last year Mokoka took second place behind Precious Mashele in 28:15, which was his second fastest time on South African soil. And given that his national record of 27:38 was run in Manchester and his fastest time on SA soil of 28:12 was run during the 2019 RUN YOUR CITY Series in Durban, he believes he can become the first South African man to produce a sub 28 minute clocking on home soil on Sunday.
"I went to the SA Half Marathon Championships (4 June) while I still had some issues but I still managed to run a 1:01:14 which was faster than last year (1:01:24) so maybe my shape is better than last year when I ran a 28:15, you'll never know. The most important thing is to pace myself properly. My dream is to find myself being the fastest South African on South African soil in terms of the 10km," said the 50km World Record holder.
In order to wrestle that title of being the fastest South African to run a 10km race on SA soil, Mokoka will have to run faster than Shadrack Hoff's 28:05. The good news for the multiple SA champion and Olympian is that Hoff's time was also clocked in Durban back in November 1996. But Precious Mashele who holds a personal best of 28:11 run during the 2021 Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10k will have something to say about that. The reigning SA 10km champion is in the race and says he is also ready to produce his first 27 minute 10km.
Should Mokoka manage to run under 28 minutes then he would earn the princely sum of R120 000 over and above the prize money he recieves for his finishing position. The R120 000 for a time between 28 minutes and 27:50 is part of the time bonus incentives on offer for local athletes in eThekwini. Aside from the South Africans in the field, race organisers Stillwater Sports have managed to assemble an arsenal of world class top runners.