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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'Running is a process, you must be patient' - Namakoe Nkhasi back to winning ways at Absa JOBURG 10K

A day after running a 1:06:20 half marathon, Namakoe Nkhasi did the unthinkable. Not only did the man from Lesotho win the Absa RUN YOUR CITY JOBURG 10K, but he beat the in-form Kabelo Mulaudzi to do it, while setting a new course record. Nkhasi's winning time of 29:07 took 35 seconds off the mark of 29:42 set by Nicholas Seoposengwe last year. Mulaudzi who had led with 2km to go settled for second place in 29:26 as Matthews Leeto of the Hollywood Athletic Club underlined his status as an improving athlete to claim the final podium position just three seconds behind Mulaudzi. Nkhasi says he was pleasantly surprised by how well he ran.

"My time really surprised me," he told #TheTopRunner moments after the thrilling victory. "I didn't do anything special after yesterday's second place finish at the Exxaro Half Marathon. I just stayed at home, had a massage and rested. The course is not as tough as people said it would be. Remember that this is my home away from home, this is my kasi so I was supposed to so something. I'm proud of my performance," explained the man who hails from The Mountain Kingdom but lives and trains in Soweto.

Nkhasi crosses the finish line at the Mary Fitzgerald Square to win the 2023 Absa RUN YOUR CITY JOBURG 10K. Photo Credit: Tobias Ginsberg.

That he has been able to rediscover the form that took him to the 27:52 Lesotho National Record he ran during the 2022 Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10K is a credit to his entire team. From his coach Michael 'Sponge' Seme, to his mentor and longtime supporter George Gundry and training partner and mentor Stephen Mokoka, Nkhasi is grateful to those that stood by him during the difficult last 12 months when he has been plagued by injury.

"Bra Stephen helps us a lot. He accommodates us so that we are united in the group. He also helps us to plan our season and teaches us how to behave. So I'm feeling good again. I'm back in competition, which makes me happy. The only thing I need to do now is focus on training and my next races. I would say that I am about 75% there. All I need to do now is worker harder and be patient and I'll achieve my goals," said the 30-year-old Nedbank Running Club top runner.

After victory at last month's Absa RUN YOUR CITY TSHWANE 10K, Ethiopia's Debash Desta did it again in Joburg. Photo Credit: Tobias Ginsberg.

But above all the tough times have taught Nkhasi that everything has it's season, a lesson that he holds on to as he continues his preparations to race a marathon and improve on his one and only 42,2km outing where he clocked 2:19:21 at the 2019 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. "Running is a process. You have to start somewhere before you can reach your goals. You have to pass through certain stages before you can arrive where you want to be. So you need to be patient and focussed and respectful and then everything else will follow. I still have much left to achieve. It's easier said than done, but everything is in God's hands."

In the women's race Debash Desta triumphed over her countrywoman Selam Gebre in a dust-up over the final kilometre to win by just seven seconds. The Ethiopian crossed the finish line in 33:03 for what was her second Absa RUN YOUR CITY series win following victory in Tshwane four weeks ago. Irvette van Zyl was the first South African woman home as she took third place 34:34.

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