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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Mashele aims to run sub 2:10 in debut marathon to qualify for Tokyo 2021

South African running sensation Precious Mashele is aiming for a memorable marathon debut when he takes part in the NN Mission Marathon Hamburg Marathon on 11 April. Mashele is amongst 100 invited top class elite athletes announced last week by event organisers NN Running Team and Global Sports Communication. The once-off marathon will serve up a fast race to give athletes the best possible chance to secure a qualification mark for the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo. Under the tagline ‘The fastest way to Tokyo,' the race will take place on a 10.5km looped course around the German city.

The 30-year-old will be accompanied by 3-time Soweto Marathon champion Irvette Van Zyl, who is the only other South African included in the field. The last time Mashele ran an international race was November 2019 when he set a personal best of 1:00:28 at the Boulogne-Billancourt half-marathon in France. The Boxer Athletics Club athlete is happy to be finally making the switch to the full marathon and hopes doing it on the international stage will earn him recognition if he performs well.

Mashele on his way to winning one of his 5 national XC titles. Photo Credit: ASA.

"I'm happy that at last, I'll get to run a marathon," said an ecstatic Mashele. "I believe this is the right time to run the marathon distance now. I have been doing quite well in the shorter distances and my age allows me to switch now. I'm happy that it's an international race so if I do well I might get more invites from race organisers. But the focus now is run a better time," he said.

At 2:11:30 the Olympic qualification time for the men's marathon takes some doing. But with his speed over shorter distances the 2017 SA 10km champion is not phased and is planning to run under 2:10. That would be enough to go one better than Elroy Gelant's 2:10:30 and book his ticket on the plane to Japan. Mashele believes that he has done the training to take him to his target.

Mashele has been training hard since the outbreak of the pandemic. Here he is completing a speed session at the Joburg Stadium with Dylan van der Merwe. Photo Credit: Dylan van der Merwe.

"I aim to run sub 2:10 and I know it's possible," said 5 times SA cross country champion on a positive note. "I have been working hard in training ever since the CoronaVirus started and with no races happening that gave me time to get into excellent shape. I'm injury-free too so I don't see anything stopping me to achieve sub 2:10. And to be on the podium would be plus," he said hopefully.

Hendrick Ramaala, who coaches Mashele at Zoo Lake in Johannesburg, is excited to see his athlete drawing overseas attention. The 2004 New York Marathon winner believes it's in Mashele's hands now to show the world what he is capable of as he moves up to the marathon distance.

Mashele poses for a post-workout photo with his training partners who include Desmond Mokgobu (wearing blue cap) who has also qualified for the Olympic Marathon. Coach Hendrick Ramaala (wearing beanie) keeps a watchful eye over his charges. Photo Credit: Precious Mashele.

" It's good seeing Precious( Mashele) getting an invitation overseas," says Ramaala. "I believe we have done enough to prepare for any circumstances. He is in good shape to be fair and I trust him to perform well there. Can he run sub 2:10? Without no doubt, he can reach it with ease based on training we have been putting. The boy is capable so it's time he shows the world over new distance."

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