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Mohale the man in PE

Champion Lucky Mohale looks a good bet to defend his SA Half Marathon road running title in Port Elizabeth.

Mohale comes into the championships off his front-running SA 10km victory and a personal best over 25km (1:18:54 ÔÇôPretoria 7 May).

Mohale will resume his battle with Steven Mokoka in the men’s race. Mohale was able to trounce an out of sorts Mokoka at the SA 10km Championships in Germiston on 22 May but Mokoka had just completed a hard track season and admittedly was not at his best.

Mokoka is preparing for the World Championships in Deagu Korea in August for the 10 000m, and has focused his training for then. He did compete in the TCS 10km Race in Bangalore on 5 June where he finished 12th in 29:31.

Throw in the likes of Xolisa Tyali, Mbongeni Ngxazozo and Boy Soke, and the race is sure to be intense. Mohale is likely to employ his front running tactics again that worked so effectively at the SA 10km Championships. The question though is whether he can do that for 21km.

The women’s field was hit by the late withdrawal of defending champion Irvette van Blerk.

After running a personal best in the 10km at the Spar Ladies race in Durban 19 June when she clocked 32:50 ÔÇô her first sub 33min clocking she has had to battle with a flu bug and in another blow has also injured an Achilles tendon.

The women’s┬áfield is probably the widest open it has been for some time. Apart from Van Blerk, Rene Kalmer’s recent ITB (Illiotibial Band Syndrome) woes and Zintle Xiniwe’s late good form all make for a good race. Xiniwe was third at the Spar Ladies race in which van Blerk ran her PB, clocking a season’s best of 33:37. A week later the 24-year-old ran her lifetime best over 15km in Cape Town ÔÇô 43:44.

Kalmer has been keeping a low profile since her fifth-placed finish in the Prague Marathon where she battled with ITB. It was that injury that forced her to pull out of the Spar Ladies race in Durban before the 4km mark. Kalmer though feels she is past the injury and on the comeback trail.