'I'm privileged to have The Sponge Group' - Mokoka praises training partners after CT Marathon win
In defending his Sanlam Cape Town Marathon title and securing a third victory at the race, Stephen Mokoka underlined his status as the country's best runner of his generation. Untroubled for the entire 42,2km, the Boxer Athletic Club man controlled the race from start to finish clocking 2:09:58 on a hot day in The Mother City to win by over a minute from Ethiopian Derseh Kindie Kassie in 2:11:26, while his countryman Dagnachew Adere Maru outsprinted Kenya’s Raymond Kipchumba Choge to take third place, 2:11:52 to 2:11:55.
" My preparation went well. I'm injury free. Mentally, psychologically and physically I am good. With marathons you have to look after yourself from start to finish. In Cape Town we always hope for good weather. I am delighted to win in Cape Town for a third time. I have won races overseas, too, but this is still special," said the man affectionately known as Tshipi.
That he ran three seconds faster than he did last year on a more challenging route tells you about the shape of the man. Being a candidate race for to become the latest member of the Abbott World Marathon Majors in 2025, the Cape Town marathon course was changed in order to accommodate a first ever elite wheelchair race. That meant a section where participants had to cross a narrow bridge was removed, but more hills were added.
"This was a tough, tough course. Normally at 25km you start enjoying a marathon, but at 28km today, we climbed that hill in District Six and it got really hard for a while, but overall I really enjoyed the race. I really hope this race does become an Abbott World Marathon Majors race, and I hope that government, corporates and runners all get involved to make it happen," explained the man who is coached by the legendary Michael "Sponge" Seme.
Should the The Cape Town Marathon be added to the list of global marathons that include London, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, Tokyo and New York then it would be Africa's first major. And as one of the best standard marathon's on the continent, The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon continues to provide opportunities to up and coming marathoners to run globally competitive times in a world class event. The 50km World Record holder, and his training partners were training hard for this race with one of his Sponge Group teammate Reghen Magwai of the Hollywoodbets Athletic Club taking twelfth place in 2:19:08.
"I'm privileged to have a group like The Sponge Group where we train with a bunch of great guys. We help each other in terms of training. The long runs that we do are always systematic from the start to the finish. So all those things come from there. If I fall off pace or maybe I'm not feeling okay in training, then somebody will takeover and maintain the same thing. So I can say all those things comes from the group and I'm privileged to have such wonderful talent and young boys helping throughout my career," he shared.