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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Mashele targets PB as Mokoka looks for fast time at Absa RYC GQEBERHA 10K

After their epic clash at the Durban race in 2021, Precious Mashele and Stephen Mokoka will renew their 10km rivalry when they face off at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY GQEBERHA 10K on 2 April. Two years ago Mashele ran a calculated race, setting a personal best 28:11 to defeat his former training partner by four seconds and win the SA 10km title in what was seen as the changing of the South African 10km distance running guard.

"The atmosphere is great at all the Absa races and I have good memories because I won in Durban in 2021," he said reflecting on that magical day in October. "And that is the reason why I’m running all five of the Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series races this year - it is an opportunity to have more quality races here at home in SA."

Precious Mashele at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10K in 2022. After struggling with injury last year Mashele, who took 16th place at the World Cross Country Championships in February is back to his best. PHOTO CREDIT: Anthony Grote

It's a sentiment that Mokoka, who still holds that national 10km record shares. Having run his 27:38 in Manchester back in 2015, the 38-year-old believes that what sets the Absa RUN YOUR CITY series apart is the arsenal of world class athletes it assembles. "I always enjoy racing the series because it’s a challenge for me as a South African distance runner to get a platform to face the world’s best in my own country - on my own soil. The fact that I don’t have to travel overseas to get a fast 10km is exciting for me as a runner."

This time around the decorated multiple SA Champ takes on the man six years his junior just five weeks after coming within seconds of setting a new SA Marathon record. While some may argue that his career best 2:06:42 might still be in his legs, Tshipi is quick to point out that he has often produced good 10km times shortly after racing well over 42km. "It’s not easy after a marathon to get an invitation for a shorter race. Normally they say, go and rest. But because of the history and relationship I have with Absa and Stillwater Sports, they always invite me because there are certain races that I have run after a marathon and I produced good times."

Stephen Mokoka in action at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10K. Mokoka's best 10km clocking of 2022 came during the Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10K where he ran the fourth fastest time of his career (28:14). PHOTO CREDIT: Action Photo

Time is also what Mashele is after and the Boxer Athletic Club star is confident of getting it in a city that has a well documented history of delivering records and fast times. "The good thing is that we know part of the course because we have run the ASA Half Marathon Championships there. It’s a fast course so I want to push and run a personal best if possible. So my race is simply that I want to go with the East Africans so that I can run a fast time," explained the man who triumphed over Mokoka at the Nelson Mandela Bay Half Marathon in another exciting encounter in Gqeberha in 2021.

And this is the ultimate allure of the series - more so in the coastal races run in Gqeberha, Cape Town and Durban - that local and up and coming athletes in particular have the chance to produce globally competitive times that will allow them to take their careers forward. For example nine of the ten best 10km times ever run by any women in South Africa were run in the RUN YOUR CITY Series, while all ten of the best men's performances and every single sub 28 minute clocking in the country has taken place in the very same series. It is for this reason that Mokoka is a fan of the series and hopes that he can move from joint 20th and break into that top ten list in Gqeberha.

"I’m excited for the inauguration of the Absa RUN YOUR CITY in Gqeberha. I love this series and my wish is to see it grow and go around the entire country because we have seen that it’s good for depth and if we have depth, then the times will come. I’m just going to go systematically from the gun and try to pace myself properly. The fastest time I’ve ever run in South Africa is 28:11. So If I can run faster than that I’ll be happy or if I can run close to that time, I’ll be the happiest man."

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