New kid on the road running block Ian Slinger banking on Gelant's experience to help him grow
Perhaps the biggest surprise to come out of Saturday's Race to Equality was the performance of Ian Slinger who finished second behind Desmond Mokgobu. While the Entsika Athletic Club runner collected the R21 000 prize for winning the half marathon run over the hills of western Johannesburg, Slinger showed that he is comfortable competing against South Africa's finest as he ran toe-to-toe with Olympians Mokgobu and Elroy Gelant. He even managed to dip his Potchefstroom Track Club teammate Gelant at the finish line.
"I'm quite positive with how the race went," he told #TheTopRunner shortly after completing the race which was put on by Athletics South Africa and the Motsepe Foundation. "Lot of hills and obviously hard work but we have been preparing for this, it's not something new. I'm just happy with the way things are moving as the season progresses," smiled the 26-year old from Graaf-Reniet who clocked six new personal bests from 1500m to the half marathon last year.
Given the breakthrough year he enjoyed in 2021, it will come as an even bigger surprise to athletics fundis that Slinger did it while nursing an injury. "It's been tough because I picked up a groin injury round about August. So we've been managing it from there and then in December it got worse, so I only got to train in the last two weeks of December. But we are managing it. I'm happy with how training is going at the moment, a lot of mileage in the legs and it seems like it's paying off," he smiled through his trademark fashion shades which he prefers to traditional running sunglasses.
Coming from a track background, the man who works full time while training alongside SA 5000m record holder Elroy Gelant impressed with his 29:02 on the road at the SA 10km championships last year run under the auspices of the Absa DURBAN 10K CITYRUN. And that is exactly where Slinger believes his strength lies - on the road! And it all starts with improving on his half marathon personal record of 1:03:44 set at last year's SA Half Marathon Championships in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
"I see myself more as a roadrunner at the moment, I do track work just to get a bit of that leg speed in. But 21 kays is actually my focus for now and that's where I want to put down a solid time, but obviously with the 10km on the road with the 21 on the road. So in the next two years that's where we are going - marathon. So now is the time to start laying that foundation and that's best thing that I have in my corner - an Olympian. Not just an Olympian but now my training partner officially. So I'm very happy that he [Gelant] is part of the journey and we've built a great partnership and a great friendship," he concluded.
In the women's race, Lesotho's Neheng Khathala (1:16:08) finished over a minute ahead of Kenya's Shelmuith Moruiki (1:17:45) while Murray and Roberts athlete Adele Broodryk closed out the podium in 1:21:42. Mokgobu's training partner Maxime Chaumeton dominated the men's 10km (28:29) when he won by 46 seconds from Olympian Sbusiso Nzima (29:15) to make it a great day at the office for Hendrick Ramaala's Zoo Lake Training Group to which both Mokgobu and Chaumeton belong. The women's 10km race was won by Boxer Athletics Club's Cacisile Sosibo (33:14) who has improved greatly over the last six months under the guidance of coach Michael Seme.