Defending champion Mokoka shrugs off Cape Town Marathon title pressure: ‘It’s about having fun’

Stephen Mokoka from South Africa

  • South African Stephen Mokoka is the local favorite as this weekend’s Cape Town Marathon offers a new challenge for professionals and novices alike.
  • Mokoka will defend his title and compete for a third Cape Town Marathon crown.
  • The Olympian insists he feels no pressure and is just looking to have fun and enjoy the 42.2km run.

Defending champion Stephen Mokoka is ready to take on the challenge of Sunday’s new Sanlam Cape Town Marathon.

Mokoka is one of around 13,000 athletes set to take part in the elite 42.2km race as it debuts as an Abbott World Marathon Majors (WMM) candidate.

WMM races are part of World Athletics and feature six major annual marathon races – the Boston, London, New York, Tokyo, Chicago and Berlin Marathons.

The Cape Town Marathon has been revamped as a WMM contender in its first year of a three-long assessment as the African race competes with Australia’s Sydney Marathon and China’s Chengdu Marathon for seventh square.

READ | CT Marathon bid for major status, new course poses challenge for elite and novice: ‘It’s huge’

Mokoka will fly the South African flag in Cape Town as one of the favorites ahead of this weekend’s festivities.

The three-time Olympian set a Cape Town marathon record of 2:08.31 in 2018 and in March this year Mokoka broke the men’s 50km world record at the Runified Breaking Barriers Ultra Marathon in Gqeberha, setting a time of 2:40:13, recognized by World Athletics.

Mokoka, who missed July’s World Championships in Athletics through injury, says he has prepared as best he can and will adapt to the unpredictable weather in Cape Town.

“You have to put all the components together, so you can’t change the nature, so if it’s windy, you have to go through this process. It can be cold, hot or rainy, you have to go through the process,” Mokoka told News24 Sport on Friday.

“If you’re preparing for a marathon, you’re ready to take on any challenge to face it at the end of the day because that’s what we impose on ourselves.”

READ ALSO | 13,000 people vie for Cape Town Marathon glory: who to watch?

Mokoka is set to kick off his title defense from 6:15 a.m. Sunday morning from Helen Suzman Boulevard.

The long-distance star is seeking a third Cape Town Marathon title after crossing the finish line first with a time of 2:10.01 last year.

Mokoka is a seasoned veteran and will strategically plan the 42.2km road race around the scenic Mother City.

However, the 37-year-old shrugged off the pressure and emphasized the real appeal of running, which is having fun.

“The marathon is a very long event, it demands a lot from the human body, from the muscles and from the brain, psychologically,” Mokoka said.

“I never put pressure on myself. I take everything day by day and step by step and finally when I get to the finish line I have to enjoy it because it’s not about winning.

“The most important thing is to have fun and have fun.”

The Cape Town Marathon will be broadcast live on SuperSport Channel 209 (SS Variety 4) between 05:55 and 11:00.

About Walter J. Leslie

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