Cape Town – Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei smashed the South African All-Comers Record of 27:55 at the inaugural 10K CITYSURFRUN on Sunday.
The previous record was set by Richard Limo in Port Elizabeth in 2004.
Cheptegei was touted as the race favourite and the 21-year-old World Championship 10 000m silver medallist delivered. He crossed the line in 27:28 for the fourth fastest time in the world this year, as well as a Ugandan national record.
If that wasn’t enough, 19-year-old Mercyline Chelangat also ran a national Uganda record in the women’s race, while Julien Wanders set a Swiss national record.
The first kilometre saw a bunch of approximately 20 athletes fly past in 2:47, but within the second kilometre the pace had been upped remarkably and went past in 2:42, spitting out close on 10 athletes from the front bunch.
The pace then settled into 2:45/km but even that was too fast for the bunch and by the 4km mark the pack had been whittled down to four.
Surprisingly, the worlds’ fastest 12km runner, Morris Gachaga was not able to go with the brutal pace; neither was SA 5000m Record Holder, Elroy Gelant as Joshua Cheptegei surged at 4km, taking SA 10km Record Holder, Stephen Mokoka, Swiss sensation, Julien Wanders and countryman, Stephen Kissa with him.
5km was passed in 13:47 – well on a sub 27:30-pace. Cheptegei though was relentless and upped the pace again, dropping Mokoka and Wanders. Kissa hung on for almost another kilometre, before he too had to give way to Cheptegei’s continuous surging.
By 8km, Cheptegei was the sole contender for the title and it was a race against the clock. Flying down the promenade on Durban’s beachfront.
Cheptegei broke his own National Record by 18 seconds (27:46). Second across the line was countryman and training partner, Stephen Kissa shaving 24 seconds off his personal best of 28:28 to finish in 28:04 while Julien Wanders knocked 37 seconds off his previous best of 28:49, clocking 28:12.
“The wind came up and did affect us,” said Cheptegei after the race.
“But I am very happy. A national record and my PB, yes I am very happy.”
Asked about why he decided to make the move at 4km, Cheptegei said that it just felt right to go then.
“We were running hard, we wanted a fast time. The first few kilometres were not consistent in terms of splits, so I wanted to make sure we ran more consistently. Also I felt good and I could see the others were struggling a bit.”
Mokoka who was chasing his own SA Record finished in 4th in 28:34.
“This was a hard run. Overall I am happy, but it was hard.”
Just as in the men’s race, it was a Ugandan who took the women’s race in a National Record. Mercyline Chelangat had the race of her life, improving her best time of 33:17 by a massive 1 min 40 sec to clock an incredible 31:37 for the second fastest time ever on South African soil behind the 31:33 of Elana Meyer in 1991 – ironically also in Durban.
The initial pace was almost suicidal as the women went through 2km in 6:02 and then settled down. Chelangat, Dorcus Tuitoek and Paskalia Chepkorir then raced together for the next 7km, before Chelangat was able to break away and fly to an incredible time of 31:37, also breaking the previous national record of Uganda which had stood at 32:10.
“I did not know what to expect, so to run this fast, makes me very happy,” says Chelangat.
“I knew I was in good shape and the wind made it difficult, but after today I know I can go a lot faster.”
Paskalia Chepkorir finished second, ten seconds back (31:47) with Dorcas Tuitoek rounding out the podium (32:11). First South African across the line was Dominique Scott-Efurd who finished in 33:26.
“It has been a long season, almost 13 months of racing with no break, so I am quite happy with today,” says Scott-Efurd.
“But it was hard and the wind did add to the challenge. But I loved racing in Durban and hope to be back again. This race is incredible and it was amazing to be part of it.”
1 Joshua Cheptegei 00:27:28, 2 Stephen Kissa 00:28:04, 3 Julien Wanders 00:28:12, 4 Stephen Mokoka 00:28:34, 5 Elroy Gelant 00:29:11, 6 Joel Mmone 00:29:31, 7 Phillimon Mathiba 00:29:38, 8 Mbongeni Nxazozo 00:29:42, 9 Thabang Mosiako 00:29:46, 10 Morris Gachaga 00:29:46
1 Mercyline Chelangat 00:31:37, 2 Paskalia Chepkorir 00:31:47, 3 Dorcas Tuitoek 00:32:11, 4 Veronicah Nyaruai 00:32:55, 5 Dom Scott-Efurd 00:33:26, 6 Nazret Weldu 00:33:43, 7 Betha Chikanga 00:33:59, 8 Maria Shai 00:35:24, 9 Jenet Mbhele 00:35:35, 10 Janie Grundling 00:36:24