'When I come to SA it is special for me' - Stella Chesang targets another record at Absa DURBAN 10K
Whenever Stella Chesang sets foot in South Africa, she delivers world class performances. The Commonwealth Games 10 000m gold medalist has set no less than two national 10km records for her native Uganda on SA soil which leads her to believe that the country is a special place for her. And so returning to take part in the Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10K once again, Chesang is not only targeting another national record but is also confident of beating world record holder Yalemzerf Yehualaw of Ethiopia tomorrow.
"In 2018 it was my first time to come to South Africa and that time my competitor was Mercyline Chelangat," she told #TheTopRunner at The Globe at Suncoast as scores of social runners streamed in to collect their race packs ahead of tomorrow's event. "We really ran a good race and I did a national record and PB."
On that occasion the Ugandan won the Durban race in 31:14 in what was the fastest time 10km time ever run by a woman from her country. Then she took a break to have a baby at the end of 2018 only to return with a bang in 2022. Chesang announced her return by defeating multiple world record holder Genzebe Dibaba to win the 2022 Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10K in 30:40 with was both a Ugandan national record and an SA All-Comers record.
"After maternity leave I feel I was strong. I really came back strong because that time my first international race was in Cape Town, South Africa. When I come to South Africa it is special for me."
But perhaps the key difference between Cape Town in 2022 and Durban in 2023 is that Chesang, Yehualaw and all the other female top runners will have their own race without the aid of male pacemakers as was the case in The Mother City. Where Gladwin Mzazi paced Chesang, Dibaba and Jesca Chelangat in the fairest Cape, the women's race will start before the men's as Yehualaw aims to better the women's only 10km record of 30:01 set by Kenya's Agnes Tirop. Chesang says she is ready for a fast race as she aims to once again improve on the Uganda national record of 30:24 set by Sarah Chelangat in Valencia in January.
"That we don't have male pacemakers doesn't affect me. We are chasing women's only record which is good for us. Sunday is going to be day and a good race because we are having Yalemzerf. I know the race is going to be fast. I am going to see how my body will move and I'll follow her."