Updated: February 5, 2016


Stephen Mokoka will lead the Gauteng North team in Sasolburg this weekend

A hard-fought battle is expected to be waged on Saturday for the men’s title, while the women’s field for the SA 10km Championships will be watered down by the absence of some of the country’s top road runners.
Defending champion Stephen Mokoka confirmed on Friday he would target his fifth national crown over the distance, after securing the 10km title four times in the past seven seasons.
He was set to face quality opposition at the high-altitude race in Sasolburg, however, with the likes of last year’s runner-up Gladwin Mzazi, versatile athlete Elroy Gelant, SA half-marathon champion Lucky Mohale, and rising star William Kaptein all confirming their participation.
The race, held in conjunction with the Sasol Marathon, would incorporate the final trials for the SA squad ahead of the World Half-Marathon Championships in Cardiff next month, Athletics SA confirmed.
But squad member Lusapho April revealed he would not turn out in Sasolburg and his management team said he would give the global 21km spectacle a miss in order to focus on his Olympic qualifying bid at the Hannover Marathon in April.
The women’s contest on Saturday was expected to be spearheaded by twin sisters Diana-Lebo and Lebogang Phalula.
Marathon specialists Cornelia Joubert, the silver medallist last year, and Christine Kalmer were both eager to spring a surprise, along with former champion Nolene Conrad.
In-form athlete Irvette van Zyl, who clocked times of 33:30 (10km) and 1:12:08 (21km) at altitude in the last couple of weeks, said she would give skip the race and concentrate on preparation for her Olympic qualifying attempt at the London Marathon in April, after she missed the provincial trials and was not selected for the Guateng North team.
“For now I’m done with racing and I’m just going to train for a bit,” Van Zyl said.
Mapaseka Makhanya, Tanith Maxwell and Jenna Challenor, also preparing for upcoming international marathons, had all taken the same decision, opting not to line up for this weekend’s race.
Another marathon specialist, Rene Kalmer, said she was ill but would compete in Sasolburg if her health improved before the start of the race.
“I’ve been down with stomach flu for two days, so I’m not sure at this stage,” Kalmer said.
Defending champion Lorraine Novela was included in the entry lists for the race, though she was expected to struggle against the more experienced athletes in the field.
“We are looking forward to a successful event,” said ASA president Aleck Skhosana.
“Preparations have been going well and we believe it will be another successful and exciting day for competitors, social runners and members of the public supporting the event.”