Stephen Mokoka showed his class once again, bashing through the rain on Sunday to win the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon for the second time as he reclaimed the national title.
After controlling a lead pack of six men, which was then whittled down to four, Mokoka broke clear with around two kilometres remaining to win the annual 42km race throught the streets of the Mother City in 2:10:01.
He shook off a strong international challenge, with Gebru Redahgne of Ethiopia taking second place in 2:10:14 and Tebello Ramakongoana of Lesotho finished third in 2:10:21.
“The weather did not really cooperate, and we struggled a bit in the rain. It kept stopping and starting, so the temperature was changing and it made it difficult,” said Mokoka, who bounced back to form after dropping out in the latter stages of the Olympic marathon in Tokyo in August.
“But I’m glad to be racing in South Africa again and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here.”
With a few South African athletes putting up a brave fight, Mokoka praised his compatriots after Melikhaya Frans held on to finish sixth in 2:11:28 and Sboniso Sikhakhane finished eighth in 2:11:49, both setting personal bests.
“It was not an easy race, but you could see the talent, and if the other guys can show no fear like they did today, it will help them improve,” Mokoka said.
Gerda Steyn, meanwhile, took fourth place in the women’s race, winning the South African marathon title in 2:26:22.
Steyn tried to break up the four-member lead group with around 12km remaining, but she paid for those surges in the closing stages.
While she slipped off the pace, with Kenyan athlete Lydia Simiyu clocking the fastest women’s time ever run on SA soil (2:25:41) to take the win, Steyn held on to cross the line less than a minute outside her national record.