Morris Gachaga took line honours for the third consecutive year when he won the 2019 FNB Cape Town 12 ONERUN in Cape Town on Sunday May 19.
In cool and near perfect conditions 14 300 runners took part in the 12km run from Woodbridge Island in Milnerton to Cape Town.
With probably the strongest field ever assembled, the race was either going to turn into a fast and furious affair with the course record of 33:27 under threat, or a more tactical race of attrition. In the end it turned out to be the latter as the leading athletes surged repeatedly in a game of cat and mouse.
The first kilometre passed in 2:47 – record pace, and the excitement levels were high with the pre-race talk of course record and world best times looking justified. But a slight headwind in the first few kilometres saw the athletes back off the pace. Five kilometres went in 14:22 with all the main contenders in the pack.
With two time defending champion, Morris Gachaga, Abdallah Mande (4th in 2018), John Langat (3rd in 2018), Moses Koech, Alfred Ng’eno and Rhonzas Kilimo along with South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka and Elroy Gelant all in the mix, the race was shaping up for a furious finish.
The second 5km was covered in 13:50 as Abdallah Mande put in some surges. The field was stretched out into single file and then, one by one, the main contenders dropped away, leaving only Morris Gachaga with the hard-running Mande.
With 500m left Gachaga threw down the gauntlet and quickly opened a small but decisive race-winning gap which he was able to hold. Gachaga was so confident of his win that he started punching the air with 300m to go. The diminutive Kenyan crossed the line a mere 11 seconds off his own course record, clocking 33:38 with Mande second in 33:39 and Stephen Mokoka third (33:50).
“I wanted to win my third title here today. The record was not as important for me. Win first, then worry about the record,” said Gachaga after his race. “When Abdallah (Mande) went, I knew it was the move and had to stay with him. I was worried about my kick after my Paris Marathon in April, but I haven’t lost it. It was my kick that carried me through the day.”
Brillian Kipkoech timed her race to perfection as she fed off the hard front running of 2018 Commonwealth Games 10 000m champion, Stella Chesang. The Ugandan had every intention of attacking the five-year old course record time of 38:22 set by Vivian Cheruiyot at the inaugural race in 2015. The course record looked in danger as the leaders went through halfway in 15:58. Tucked in behind Chesang were Sofiya Chege and Degitu Azamirew.
Kipkoech challenged for the first time in the final 3km of the race and, just like Gachaga in the men’s race, made her attack in the final 500m. After Chesang had driven the pace from the start she had nothing left in her legs and had to settle for the runners’ up spot. Kipkoech smashed the previous course record of 38:22, coming home in 38:05 with Chesang again the bridesmaid (38:09) and Sofiya Chege third (38:10). The first South African home was Irvette van Zyl in sixth, improving her best time from 39:40 run in 2016 to 39:22.
“I made my move at the 11km mark. I wanted to see how my body felt and it responded well. So I attacked again with about 500m to go and was able to move away. I did not know about the course record, so I am very happy today,” said Kipkoech.
TOP 10 RESULTS
Men: 1 Morris Gachaga 00:33:38, 2 Abdallah Mande 00:33:39, 3 Stephen Mokoka 00:33:50, 4 Alfred NG’Eno 00:33:52, 5 Moses Koech 00:33:53, 6 Kelvin Kibiwott 00:34:09, 7 Elroy Gelant 00:34:14, 8 Rhonzas Kilimo 00:34:19, 9 Joel Ayeko 00:34:24, 10 John Langat 00:34:36
Women: 1 Brillian Kipkoech 00:38:05, 2 Stella Chesang 00:38:09, 3 Sofiya Chege 00:38:10, 4 Degitu Azamirew 00:38:11, 5 Muliye Dekebo 00:38:46, 6 Irvette van Zyl 00:39:22, 7 Tish Jones 00:40:31, 8 Kesa Molotsane 00:40:45, 9 Fortunate Chidzivo 00:41:01, 10 Lebo Phalula 00:41:22