SA stars Gerda Steyn and Stephen Mokoka headline Sanlam Cape Town Marathon field
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CAPE TOWN - The course record holder and 2018 winner, Stephen Mokoka and SA Marathon record holder, Gerda Steyn, were unveiled on Wednesday as South Africa's leading runners in the stellar men’s and women’s field at the 2021 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon on 17 October.
Mokoka won the 2018 race in a time of 2:08.31 to break the course record of 2:08.41 set by Asefa Mengistu of Ethiopia in 2016 on the way to his first of two victories. The South African 10km and Half Marathon record holder has amassed an incredible marathon CV since turning his attention to the 42.2km.
In 15 starts, Mokoka has five victories to his name, two runner-up positions and third once. Arguably one of his best performances though is 5th place at the World Marathon Championships in Doha in 2019.
Mokoka’s return to the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon stems from a deep desire to own the fastest marathon time on South African soil. “It is no secret that my (late) father-in-law (Zithulele Sinqe) has the fastest marathon time on South Africa soil*. I want to own that 2:08.04 and the fast and flat course of Cape Town is perfect to run that time.”
For Steyn, the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon has a special meaning. Since turning her focus onto the marathon, Steyn has improved steadily and made the big marathon breakthrough when she qualified for the Olympics after running 2:27.48 at the New York Marathon in 2019.
Under trying conditions Steyn took a minute off that time in London in September 2020 to clock 2:26.51 before smashing the long-standing SA Record of Colleen de Reuck (2:26.35 – 1996) when she finished 9th at the Sienna Marathon in Italy in April, finishing in an astounding 2:25.28.
And so, for the first time, she lines up at a marathon as one of the favourites to win her first-ever marathon on South African soil.
“To be able to run against some of the best in my first ever marathon on home soil is special for me. So that in itself comes with pressure. I put pressure on myself to run well, and with ladies on my heels it will be a great race.”
The men’s race will also feature the likes of Belachew Ameta from Ethiopia, Emmanuel Oliaulo Ngatuny from Kenya, 2019 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon runner up, Daniel Muteti, also from Kenya and Ethiopia’s newly crowned 50km World Record Holder, Ketema Negessa. Ameta scorched to a 2:07.55 in Seville in 2020, while Ngatuny won the 2019 La Rochelle Marathon in 2:08.22.
Steyn will expect stiff opposition from Kenya’s Lucy Karimi after the Kenyan finished third in the Geneva Marathon, crossing the line in 2:24.24. Ethiopia’s Nurif Shimels who finished second at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in 2019 in 2:27.40 is also back.
Adding further lustre to the women’s field is Kenya’s Naomi Jepkosgei Maiyo. Also no stranger to the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, Maiyo was 5th in 2017. Both Shimel’s and Maiyo will be renewing a rivalry with Steyn after the latter two had also raced in the Sienna Marathon in April this year. Steyn finished 9th, Maiyo 18th and Shimels 14th.