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Mokoka defends title in Paarl

By Mark Etheridge

Gauteng North’s Stephen Mokoka returns to the Boland on Saturday in defence of his national 10-kilometre road title.

Athletes have the triple incentive of a fast and flat route, a bumper pay day, and equally as importantly, a good-weather forecast for Paarl on Saturday.

The race, presented by Athletics South Africa and the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, will start and finish at the Dal Josafat stadium, in Paarl.

Mokoka, 25, won last year’s race in Stellenbosch in a fast time of 28min 21sec, and will be eyeing not only the glory of victory, but the lucrative incentives on offer.

The first male athlete to clock a faster time than 28:06 will pocket R50┬á000, and should┬á Matthews Motshwarateu’s national record of┬á 28.00 (set in Purchase, US an awfully long 30 years ago in 1980) be broken there’ll be a further R50┬á000 pay out heading the way of his bank account. First prize stands at R3000.

There’ll be a new women’s champion as Rene Kalmer is taking a break after a hectic international track and field campaign. Experienced Ronel Thomas starts as the fastest women with a qualifying time of 35:12 but the smart money could well be on the talented and now injury-free Irvette van Blerk.

The Nedbank athlete won the Totalsports women’s 10km in Johannesburg on Monday in her fastest time on that particular route, less than a month after a new personal best en route to winning the national half-marathon championships in Port Elizabeth.

“I’m looking forward to running,” said Van Blerk on Thursday. “I really want to run in the low 33min range. I don’t really know exactly who is running but I’m just going to give it my all and hopefully win as well.” Low 33min range means she’ll be flirting with her personal best which currently stands at 33:12 and run in Stellenbosch four years ago.

As in the men’s race .. there’s also the lure of the lolly in the women’s category with R50┬á000 to be paid out to the first female to dip under 32:14, although that doesn’t look too likely. Kalmer’s winning time of 32:39 last year was the fastest 10km run by a South African and only two SA women (Elana Meyer and Colleen de Reuck) have gone under 32:20.

Should a woman beat Meyer’s national best of 31:13 be beaten there’s another R50 000 on offer. Like the men, the senior women’s top three placings will each receive R3000, R2000 and R1000 respectively.

Kalmer confirmed on Thursday that she’s definitely not running on Saturday. “I took a full 10-day break from training after African championships in Nairobi and now I’m back to training for Commonwealth Games, obviously hoping that I’m selected for the team.”

Saturday’s progamme starts with a 10km wheelchair race at 8am, followed by the SA 10km Championships at 8.10am. A 5km fun run will take place from 8.40am.


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