Good run but he wanted more - Mashele reflects on World Cross Country performance
Precious Mashele underlined his status as South Africa's best cross country athlete of the current generation when he once again secured a top twenty finish at the World Cross Country Championships yesterday. The five-time SA Cross Country Champion ran a controlled and mature race starting in the middle of the bunch and gradually picking up fading runners. He would eventually finish in sixteenth place in Bathurst, Australia to match the position he attained in Arhus, Denmark in 2019.
The 32-year-old completed the punishing 5x2km course complete with muddy billabongs and tyre obstacles in 30:44 as Uganda's Jacob Kiplimo won gold in 29:17. "The conditions were tough - very tough. It was windy and the course was challenging because there were no flat sections at all. It was either climbing or running downhill," he told #TheTopRunner. Yet despite his encouraging run, Mashele feels he could have done better.
"I feel okay, but if I'm honest, I'm not completely satisfied with my finish. I was lying in fourteenth with about 600m to go and I was passed. At least if I had managed to hold on to that fourteenth position it would be different, because I already got sixteenth place before. But anyway that's what happened and I can't change it. At least I managed to repeat my 2019 performance," shared the Boxer Athletic Club man.
Those sentiments reveal the thinking of a man who has grown in stature especially during the last two years. Having defended his national 5000m crown in 2022 and made his maiden Olympic appearance at Tokyo 2021, the career of the man who is coached by Hendrick Ramaala is on an upward trajectory. And with the 2023 season just beginning, the Puma sponsored top runner says even if the result was a bit less than he had hoped for, a top twenty finish in a race including the likes of World Record holders like Kiplimo and Joshua Cheptegei has left him positive for the year ahead.
"That race has given me confidence for some of my upcoming races - especially the Absa RUN YOUR CITY series. If I could run 30 minutes on this tough cross country course then I think I'll be able to run fast times in the Absa races." Mashele led the senior men's team to fifth place overall in their 10km race, while the Cian Oldknow's 36:02 for 27th place was the best effort from the senior women.