Mokoka ready for battle in Joburg

Updated: September 23, 2016

Stephen Mokoka, seen here winning the 2014 Shanghai Marathon, is among the favourites for the Joburg 10k CityRun title


A tough battle is on the cards on Saturday, according to Stephen Mokoka, as the nation’s top distance runners prepare to lock horns at the inaugural FNB Joburg 10k CityRun.

Mokoka, the SA 10km record holder (27:38), will toe the line against a quality local line-up.

Fellow favourites include national 5 000m record holder Elroy Gelant and marathon runner Sibusiso Nzima, who has been in superb form this season.

With Nzima taking second place in the 10km race at last week’s Cape Town Marathon in 28:42, behind Namakoe Nkhasi of Lesotho (28:28), Mokoka was bracing for a domestic onslaught this weekend.

“We saw a good 10k last week, with two guys running under 28:50, which shows people are in shape,” Mokoka, who will aim for his third Shanghai Marathon victory next month, said on Friday.

“I think it’s a pretty good elite field because it’s the creme of South African runners. We’ve got some young athletes and strong runners who we run cross country and track with, so for me it’s a very challenging field.”

Lebogang Phalula, meanwhile, fired a warning at her opponents in the elite women’s race.

Despite clocking 2:38:00 on her marathon debut in Cape Town last week, Phalula said she was feeling strong enough to put up a fight against a line-up which included her twin sister Diana-Lebo, who was second in the Cape Town 10km last week in 33:25, and Zimbabwean athlete Rutendo Nyahora.

“This is my event, with (sponsors) Puma and (promoters) Stillwater Sports involved, so I have to run,” Phalula said.

“I am tired but my message to the ladies is to watch this space. I am fresh enough.”

Just under 11 000 runners are expected to turn out at the first edition of the 10km race through the streets of Joburg.