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Chepkirui smashes record at Durban 10K

Durban – She came, she saw and she conquered in emphatic fashion! The fastest women in the world in 2019, Kenya’s Sheila Chepkirui, lived up to her billing as race favourite for the 2019 FNB Durban 10K CITYSURFRUN on Sunday 13 October 2019, when she took 4 seconds off the South African All Comers record to win in 30:55.

Chepkirui smashes All Comers Record at FNB Durban 10K CITYSURFRUN

Chepkirui was bullish and confident on the start line making it clear that she was here to run fast, and the gusting wind was not going to deter her.

True to her word, she, Evaline Chirchir and Beatrice Mutai went straight to the front of the race and drove the pace of what is arguably the strongest ever field assembled in South Africa. With five women under 32 minutes, one of whom has gone under 30 minutes and one under 31 minutes and a further four under 33 minutes, the women’s race was always going to take center stage.

Chirchir and Mutai took the pace setting duties from the gun, with Chepkirui tucked in behind and Ethiopia’s Tadu Nare right on their heels. But Nare’s brave attempt to stick with women running at 3:06 per kilometer faltered by the 3km mark. Thereafter it was the three Kenyans who drove proceedings.

Chepkirui allowed Mutai and Chirchir to lead and ran cleverly, staying behind the pair for most of the race. After 5km came and went in 15:26 with the trio not letting up on the frenetic pace. At 7.2km, run in 22:24, Chepkirui first made her presence felt and barged between Chirchir and Mutai.

At 8.5km, Chepkirui threw in another surge and Mutai started to fade, but it was only in the final 500m that Chepkirui was able to open daylight between herself and Chirchir. Chepkirui, who on 7 September ran 29:57 for 10km – the fastest in the world this year and the second fastest ever – had too much speed for Chirchir who had run 66:22 for a half marathon only a month ago. Chepkirui came home in 30:55 ahead of Chirchir (30:57) and Beatrice Mutai (31:01). First South African across the line was in form Glenrose Xaba who took 14 seconds off her personal best, by finishing 5th in 32:45.

“I am really happy with my performance, especially the fast time, as this is my first road race in South Africa,” said Chepkirui. On her tactics, Chepkirui said she is not a front runner. “I usually stay at the back in the beginning and then make my move closer to the race finish.”

“I am very happy with my race today, especially as it is my personal best,” says Glenrose Xaba. “The beginning of the year was very tough for me as I had many injuries. But now I am healed and it is all coming together.”

On the men’s front, Stephen Mokoka finally was able to win a 10km race on home soil when he took control of the race with 2km to go. Mokoka, who had finished 5th at the World Marathon Championships merely a week ago, relished the more tactical approach to the race taken by the lead men.

Race favourite, Uganda’s Stephen Kissa did much of the work to set the pace in the early stages of the race. But when 5km came and went in 14:21 with a lead contingent of around 20 athletes, Mokoka was smiling.

5km was passed by a bunch of around 20 athletes that included pre-race favourite, Stephen Kissa (Uganda), William Sitonik (Kenya) Alfred Ngeno (Kenya), Kevin Kibet, (Kenya), Bernard Bii (Kenya), Precious Mashele (SA), Kabelo Seboko (SA), Elroy Gelant (SA), local favourite Mbuleli Mathanga (SA) and Mokoka.

With 2km to go, Precious Mashele threw in a surge and split the field that had been whittled down to 10. As the men hit the promenade, Mokoka took control and strung the field out even further. Only Mashele, Kissa and Kibet went with the charge, but Mokoka was not done yet. Another surge saw Mashele drop off the lead quartet. In the final kilometer, Mokoka edged ever further ahead to emerge as the winner, crossing the line in 28:12, with Kissa second (28:16), Kibet third (28:18) and Mashele settling for fourth (28:26).

“I am really happy with the win,” said Mokoka. “Not just the win and being first South African, but also my fastest time in South Africa. Previously it was 28:18. So that shows that things are coming together for me.”

“FNB would like to congratulate and express our sincere gratitude to our customers, families and athletes who took their time to partake in this highly competitive race in Durban. It’s great to see our runners demonstrating their commitment and endurance to the race each year. As we end off 2019, we look ahead and welcome you again in 2020 for another exciting instalment of the FNB Run Your City Series,” says Bonga Sebesho, Head of Sponsorships at FNB.

The FNB Run Your City Series consists of four events: the FNB Cape Town 12 ONERUN (5th anniversary in 2019), FNB Joburg 10K CITYRUN (4th anniversary in 2019), FNB Durban 10K CITYSURFRUN (3rd anniversary in 2019) and FNB Maputo 10K CITYRUN (inaugural event on 10 November 2019).

Exhilarating mass participation road races, each event celebrates the splendour of its host city. Runners (and walkers) are treated to a journey that will highlight iconic landmarks and feature lively performances on route.

Over the short period of 5 years, the series has grown to over 40 000 runners in the three cities and has attained IAAF Bronze Label Status in two events (FNB Cape Town 12 ONERUN and FNB Durban 10K CITYSURFRUN). The Durban race is now chasing Gold Label Status. The significance of that cannot be underestimated. Label Status means that the FNB Run Your City Series will attract some of the best athletes in the world, which means that South Africa’s top athletes get to race the best on home soil. As a result, fast times will be recorded on the African Continent.

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