Despite missing his target at the weekend, after taking aim at his national 10km record, Stephen Mokoka is satisfied with his build-up for his next 42km race as he prepares to return to his happy hunting ground in China.
In preparation for his title defence at the Shanghai Marathon next month, Mokoka finished fourth at the FNB CitySurfRun 10km race on Sunday.
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After storming through halfway as part of a four-man lead group in 13:49, on target to break his two-year-old SA mark of 27:38, he lost touch in the second half.
He crossed the line in 28:34, nearly a minute outside his national record and well behind Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei, who won in 27:28 to set a South African all-comers’ best.
“After seven kays we were running into the wind and I think that’s where I lost time,” Mokoka said.
“I felt tired, and I tried to push as hard as I could but I kept slowing down.
“I gave myself a challenge to run under 28 minutes but I’m happy with this time.”
Mokoka won the Shanghai Marathon for the third time last year, clocking 2:10:18 to dip under 2:11:00 over the classic distance for the seventh season in a row.
Having struggled in his World Marathon Majors debut in Tokyo in February, settling for 36th position in 2:16:53, he hoped to bounce back in Shanghai where he set his personal best of 2:07:40 in 2015.
Though he had not displayed his best form this year, Mokoka finished 20th in the 10 000m final at the World Championships in London in August, clocking 28:14.67, and he was second behind Thabang Mosiako in 30:15 at the high-altitude Joburg 10k CityRun last month.
“A time like this (in Durban) off marathon training is perfect because I’m five weeks away,” he said.
“I’d like to run a good time in Shanghai this year.”