Mass distance running in South Africa returned in the nick of time for local favourites Stephen Mokoka and Gerda Steyn, delivering spectacular performances recently to win the ASA Marathon Championships in the Mother City.

The Championship was incorporated into the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in what was a massive road event that saw thousands of other athletes taking part.

Mokoka won the men’s open contest in 2:10:01, breaking away from a small lead group in the closing stages to finish 13 seconds ahead of Ethiopian athlete Gebru Redhagne, who finished second overall in 2:10:14.

The diminutive Mokoka won gold for Athletics Gauteng North (AGN), while a number of other South African athletes also put up a fight at the front of the race.

Melikhaya Frans finished sixth overall in a personal best 2:11:28 but secured the silver medal for Eastern Province Athletics in the national championship battle, with Reghen Magwai grabbing bronze in 2:14:45.

“Winning or running a fast time in a marathon is always a blessing, so I’m happy with the way the race unfolded,” said Mokoka, who overcame the wet conditions to win the race for the second time in his career.

“I knew we could run faster, but the rain made it difficult and I was glad to be able to run hard over the last two kilometres.

“Seeing thousands of runners in the field today was awesome. I’m glad we’re able to race in South Africa again and I’m grateful for the opportunity.”

In the women’s open race, Steyn took the fight to a strong foreign contingent. She ended fourth overall in 2:26:22, with Kenyan athlete Lydia Simiyu taking the win in 2:25:41 on debut, setting the fastest time ever run by a woman on SA soil.

In the process, Steyn (AGN) secured a comfortable victory in the ASA Championships. Zinhle Shabalala earned the silver medal in 2:41:53 for KwaZulu-Natal Athletics and Zintle Xiniwe bagged bronze for hosts Western Province Athletics in 2:42:35.

“We are smiling from ear-to-ear for a successful l road running event which was jointly well covered by broadcasters the SABC and SuperSport,” said James Moloi, the President of Athletics South Africa.

“Even though the rain made the surface wet, which affected better performances, athletes went all out for the national and Cape Town Marathon titles, respectively.  Congratulations to all winners, and in particular, to Steyn and Mokoka, respectively, who continue to be outstanding athletes.

“We also congratulate the Local Organising Committee under the host province, Western Province Athletics, for a well organised event. We thank all those who took part in our mega drive to vaccinate Athletics Family against Covid 19.”

Only athletes representing their provinces qualified for medals in the ASA Championships.

Supplied by Athletics South