'There is something special for me here in South Africa' - Chesang after setting NR in Absa RYC 10k
Where Daniel Ebenyo led from gun to tape to win yesterday's Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10k by 30 seconds from compatriot Isaac Kipkemboi, Stella Chesang was made to work for victory. Returning from maternity leave in 2020, the Ugandan only began training last year as she worked to shed the baby weight. So to return to the RUN YOUR CITY series for the first time in three years and leave with a new national record has her smiling from ear to ear.
"It was not easy for me to start training because I was heavy - my kilos were beyond 60kg and above. So it was not easy for me. I really struggled. I only started in 2021 and 2022 my body came back okay. I really enjoyed this morning's race. 2019 was my last RYC race in Durban and this is also my first international race since then so I am really happy with the performance," she said minutes after destroying the previous 30:55 All-comers Record with her new mark of 30:40.
But it wasn't just about the the time, because in producing the fastest 10km by a woman on ever run on African soil, the Commonwealth Games 10 000m gold medalist also took the notable scalp of the one and only Genzebe Dibaba. Social media had been abuzz when the announcement was made on Friday that the woman who holds four world records had chosen The Mother City to race her first official 10km on the road. Given her pedigree on the track and cross country and 1:05:18 minute half marathon personal best, The Ethiopian had been expected to dominate.
Instead it was Chesang who struck at exactly the right moment, taking the race's defending champion Jesca Chelangat of Kenya with her as the two claimed first and second with Dibaba running a credible 31:02 debut for third paced by former SA 5000m champion Gladwin Mzazi who worked hard to ensure that the tiring Olympic silver medalist finished on the podium. Having set her first national record (31:14) in Durban in 2018, the 25-year old says she always feels confident when racing in South Africa.
"After the eighth kilometre that's when I knew that this race is mine! I want to thank the race organiser for giving me the opportunity to come and show my talent. It was 2018 in Durban when I ran my PB and ran a national record. And now today I ran my PB and national record - both here in South Africa. So I think there is something special for me here in South Africa," she smiled.
With a new lifetime mark over 10km, next on Chesang's agenda will be an assault on a 10 000m medal at the World Championships. Having won Commonwealth title in Australia four years ago, she will opt to compete in the athletics World Championships in Oregon in July and skip the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham two weeks later.