In-form Mokoka, Xaba target CITYRUN titles | SASCOC - SASCOC

In-form Mokoka, Xaba target CITYRUN titles


SA 10-kilometre record holder, Stephen Mokoka and in-form Glenrose Xaba would like nothing more than to add the FNB Joburg 10K CITYRUN title to their list of achievements.

They get their chance on Sunday as the race, celebrating its second anniversary, will run through the streets of Johannesburg.

In 2016, Mokoka finished seventh and Xaba fifth.

This year, though, the scene is vastly different. In 2016 Mokoka had just returned from the Rio Olympics and was fatigued. This year he’s in shape and eager to add this title to his name.

Xaba, in the last few months, has come into the shape of her life, winning both SA cross-country titles (10km and 4km), earlier this month and running a personal best in the 10km at the Cape Town Marathon last Sunday.

She took 31 seconds off her previous best when she clocked 33:25 in Cape Town.

In fact, Xaba has improved her 10km best four times in 2017. Opening with 34:49 in Cape Town in April, Xaba’s next race was timed at 34:15 in Port Elizabeth, a month later. Then on 11 June she went under 34 minutes for the first time in her career, clocking 33:56, before setting her most recent PB.

‘This year I’m injury free. I am training with Michael Seme’s group in Pretoria, and its paying off,’ she said. ‘Im looking forward to Sunday’s race. I know it will be tough though. Cornelia (Joubert) is always dangerous and has been in good shape this year.

‘She won the national half-marathon Championships in Port Elizabeth in June. Lebogang (Phalula) is the defending champion, so she will be dangerous too.’

‘This race is important to me’, says Mokoka. ‘Stillwater Sports always gets us a good field and we like to show our appreciation by running hard and well. I have unfinished business here after last year when I was tired. This year it’s different and I am in good shape.’

Facing Mokoka will be friend and rival Sibusiso Nzima who finished third last year. Nzima is coming back into the shape that made him so dangerous in 2016 and saw him being selected for the World Marathon Championships this year. He has raced very sparingly in 2017 and is guaranteed to be fresh come race day.

The field is loaded with Desmond Mokgobu and Mbongeni Ngxazozo also in the line-up. David Manja finished fourth at the National Cross Country championships, just behind Thabang Mosiako. All will be serious threats on Sunday.

While all eyes will be on Lebogang Phalula, Xaba and Joubert, write Rutendo Nyahora off at your peril. The 28-year-old Zimbabwean loves racing in South Africa. She has been a thorn in the side of the local women for years and thrives on courses that offer a challenge. This Sunday’s race should be right up her alley.

Picture of Mokoka and Xaba courtesy of Tobias Ginsberg

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