Updated: July 30, 2016

Irvette van Zyl after winning the national women’s half-marathon title

Stephen Mokoka and Irvette van Zyl produced late surges on Saturday, and while they were both edged out by foreign competitors, they did enough to secure the national men’s and women’s titles at the SA Half-Marathon Championships in Port Elizabeth.

With Kenyan Edwin Koech making an early break, the elite SA contenders formed a large chase group behind him in the men’s race.

Mokoka broke clear of the pack in the second half, dragging Ethiopian athlete Asefa Negewo with him, and while he was able to chip away at the large gap created by Koech, he was unable to catch the leader.

Koech crossed the line in 1:01:26, holding off Mokoka by 10 seconds, with the South African athlete securing the national 21km title in second place overall.

Negewo ended third in 1:01:36, with David Manja (1:02:15) and Gladwin Mzazi (1:02:27) finishing fourth and sixth respectively to earn the silver and bronze medals in the national championships.

While Benedict Moeng was fifth in 1:02:23, he competed as an individual and did not represent his province, so he was not eligible for national championships prizes.

Sibusiso Nzima (1:02:37) and Lusapho April (1:02:39), who will represent SA in the marathon at next month’s Rio Olympics, ended seventh and eighth as they sharpened up for the Games.

Van Zyl, meanwhile, held back for most of the race, with compatriot Lebogang Phalula fighting hard up front alongside Kenyan visitor Sheila Chesang.

Sensing she had a chance for the win, after taking a somewhat cautious approach ahead of the Olympic marathon, Van Zyl put down the hammer in the closing stages but narrowly missed out on the overall victory.

Chesang finished in 1:10:58, holding off a charging Van Zyl who clocked 1:11:00, just four seconds outside her personal best set on an aided course in New York five years ago.

Phalula hung on to finish third overall in 1:11:35, with Mapaseka Makhanya ending fourth in 1:14:06, as they earned the silver and bronze medals in the national championships.
* Full results are available in our Results section