Gautengers clean sweep PE half-marathon

Athletics Gauteng won a rare double in the Nedbank SA 21 kilometre championships in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth on Saturday with a pair of personal bests from Stephen Mokoka and Annerine van Schalkwyk.

Athletics Gauteng won a rare double in the Nedbank SA 21 kilometre championships in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth on Saturday with a pair of personal bests from Stephen Mokoka and Annerine van Schalkwyk.

The incentive offered by Athletics SA certainly had the desired effect as the first 15km were covered at sub three minute pace, but the pressure at the business end of the field quickly split the ten-man field down to just Mokoka with the stadium in sight.

The 24 year old Mafikeng resident, who lined up as the defending champion, didn't get his 1:1,26sec victory that easily. "This year's race was a lot tougher, there were just so many guys fit and in form. I didn't plan today's race at all.

"I have only run four half-marathons since I decided to focus on the distance and I have now lowered my PB from 62:04 to 61:26.

"My next goal is to get it down to 61 minutes at this years World Champs in England," he said.

A wise betting man could have got ten long odds on Van Schalkwyk (AGN) winning the national title as the 30 year old Pretoria based research nurse ran the race of her life to take gold in 71:49.

A deeply religious person, she dedicated everything to her maker. "I knocked almost five minutes off my personal best today, how can a mortal soul like me do this? Today I was seconded by God.

"From ten to 18 kilometres it was me, Tabitha (Tsatsa), Rene (Kalmer) and Mamarolla (Tjoka) running together I felt like I was jogging.

"To say I am overjoyed is an understatement, I couldn't have wanted anything more," she beamed.

Tsatsa was second in 72:16, but due to her foreign status was not eligible for the national championships. She was replaced on the podium by third woman across the line, Rene Kalmer, who suffered her only defeat in the friendly city clocking 72:25.

Another international athlete in the form of Lesotho's Mamarolla Tjoka was fourth, with little Poppy Mlambo filling the remaining step of the podium with a 74:41 effort.

- Sapa

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