Stephen Mokoka . Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Stephen Mokoka . Picture: GALLO IMAGES

As expected, SA long-distance runner Stephen Mokoka won the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon to upset the strong field of Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes in the Mother City on Sunday.

Mokoka, 36, touched the tape in 2hr 09 min 58 sec to walk away with the winning prize of R200,000 and additional R60,000 incentive for being the first South African home.

The 42.2km marathon doubled as the SA marathon championships which means the Mahikeng-born runner is now the 2021 SA marathon champion.

Mokoka showed his competitors a clean pair of heels in the wet conditions in Cape Town. It rained for the first 10km then stopped and started again in the last 5km. Mokoka, who holds the course record of 2:08:31 he set in 2018, said the rain slowed him down.

Ethiopian Gebru Redahgne finished second in 2:10:14, and Tebello Ramakongoana of Lesotho took third place in 2:10:21. They collected R100,000 and R50,000 respectively. 

Mokoka stayed with the leading pack throughout until he broke away in the last 2km to sprint for the win.

It was the first mass participation in marathon running in SA in over 18 months with 9,000 runners on the streets of Cape Town  with 30 groups of runners starting 10 minutes apart.  

Four athletes tested positive for Covid-19 and were sent home.

“I am happy with the victory. The road was muddy and the rain kept on coming and going and it kept the body cooler, but [at times] we were freezing. Thank God the races are back, and we can run again. I want to thank my sponsors [as well]. If it were not for the rain, I would’ve run quicker to break my record,” said Mokoka.

Lydia Naliaka Simiyu of Kenya won the women’s race in 2:25:41, ahead of her compatriot Lucy Karimi (2:25:53), who boasted the fastest time of 2:24:24 for the women coming into the race. 

Aynalem Teferi of Ethiopia secured third place with 2:26:09, while Gerda Steyn, who made her standard marathon debut, finished fourth in 2:26:22 to become the highest placed South African. Simiyu returned to East Africa R200,000 richer.

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