'Today is not tomorrow and tomorrow is not today' - battle lines are drawn ahead of Cape Town 12k
"You win or you you die," were Morris Gachaga's words when asked about his approach to tomorrow's Absa CAPE TOWN 12K CITYRUN. Having won it's last running in 2019, the Kenyan is the defending champion and a three-time winner of the race, which makes him the favourite to triumph again on Sunday. But the man who ran 2:05:09 at last month's Paris Marathon will face stiff competition not only from some of his countrymen who have joined him on the trip from East Africa to The Mother City, but also from a host of top South African runners with a point to prove.
"The field is very tough and everybody wants to break my course record and I can't let it go," said the man who's winning time of 33:27 back in 2017 is the fastest time ever run in a 12km road race. Those lining up alongside Gachaga will be 2016 winner (33:34) Stephen Mokoka, SA 10km champion Precious Mashele (28:11) and #Tokyo2021 5000m Olympian Daniel Ebenyo. And there can be no denying Ebenyo's hunger for victory in his debut Cape Town 12k.
"I know Morris is a good athlete," said the 26-year old about his compatriot during a live online broadcast ahead of the 12km race from Milnerton to the Cape Town City Bowl. "He is a senior because I am only three years in international sport. I respect him. He said he is not going to accept the course record to go, but let me say may the best athlete win and let me say again that today is not tomorrow and tomorrow is not today. The sun rises fresh in the hands of God," were Ebenyo's ominous words.
But you would be foolish for thinking that the battle at the sharp end of the field would be a Kenyan one alone. Having trained together under Michael Seme in Pretoria before Mashele moved to Zoo Lake to be coached by Hendrick Ramaala, Mokoka and Mashele enjoy a good relationship. Add to the mix Mokoka's Sponge Group training partner Collen Mulaudzi who has had two sub 29 minute clockings in two weeks and it becomes clear that the South African assault on the final race of the #AbsaRUNYOURCITYSERIES is ready.
"I'm happy to have these guys here so that we can compete. I remember one friend of mine Kip Kemoi he says 'my friend you are soldier from your country and I am a soldier from my country, we run here and we shall see who will win.' We'll speak a little bit of Sepedi if it's Precious or a little bit of Venda if it's Collen so that they can't hear us because they speak in Swahili. If they say nyoroso, nyoroso, we don't know what that means but we see the pace increasing," laughed Mokoka.
One thing is certain. Whether it is a battle between the South Africans and the Kenyans or simply every man for himself in a furious dash towards the finish line, the 2021 Absa CAPE TOWN 12K CITYRUN will not be the same as any previous race because Today is not tomorrow and tomorrow is not today. The sun rises fresh in the hands of God.