Race favourite, Morris Gachaga lived up to his billing by successfully defending his FNB Cape Town 12 ONERUN title on Sunday.
The Kenyan crossed the finish line in Bree Street in 33min 42sec, some 15 seconds off of his world best time from 2017.
'The field was stacked, so racing for the win was more important than chasing my time from last year,' Gachaga said after the race. 'We did start out fast, for the first three kilometres we were on record pace, but then we started watching each other and the pace dropped a bit.'
Those first 3km were passed in 8min 15sec, 5km going by in 14:02 with all the main contenders in the lead pack of 12 athletes. Gachaga, after driving the pace to the 3km mark, then slipped back into the pack with Kenya's Victor Chumo talking up the front running. He was watched closely by Uganda's Abdallah Mande, Mande Bushendich, Eritrean Filmon Ande and Chumo's countrymen, Mathew Kimutai and Noah Kipkemboi. South Africa's title hopes were represented by Joel Mmone, Stephen Mokoka, Gladwin Mzazi and Thabang Mosiako.
The South African challenge fell away just after 8km which was covered in 22:47, with only Mokoka, the 2016 champion, still in the mix. Ten kilometres came and went in 28:25 and it was at this point that Gachaga and Chumo kicked again, dragging Mande Bushendich with them as they exited the Company Gardens.
On the climb up Wale Street, Chumo surged again and as they entered the final 800m in Bree Street, Chumo and Gachaga had broken away from John Langat (Kenya), Abdallah Mande and Mande Bushendich, with Mokoka dropping off further.
Chumo and Gachaga raced down Bree Street with Gachaga's knowledge of the route giving him the advantage as he timed his sprint to the line perfectly, passing Chumbo in the final 300m to defend his title.
The women's race saw Kenya's Jackline Chepngeno (pictured above) take control after 2km. Uganda's Stella Chesang, who was widely tipped to win the race after winning the 10 000m title at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, hung on till 9km, before she had to give way to the relentless surging of Chepngeno.
For Chepngeno the victory was the perfect start to 2018 after having taken 2017 off from racing, having given birth to a son.
'The last kilometre I was worried about Stella (Chesang) after her win in Brisbane (Commonwealth Games), so I ran really hard. I did not know where she was, so I needed to race to the line,' said Chepngeno. 'Winning was really good for me. This was my first race back after my pregnancy and it is a big confidence booster for me.'
Kesa Molotsane continued her good form of 2018, by finishing 3rd in her first ever FNB Cape Town 12 ONERUN in 39:53.
'The FNB Cape Town 12 ONERUN has become one of the hallmarks of the Mother City as people from all walks of life come out in their numbers to enjoy the experience,' said Stephan Claassen, FNB Business Provincial Head, Cape region. 'We at FNB Business take pride in being a part of this race as it is inclusive, innovative and supports the people and business community of the Western Cape. It also helps to share the great story of South Africa with the world.
'A part of that great story is the high standards and competitiveness of sport in SA, and in this race in particular. As such, we would like to congratulate all the participants, especially the winners who displayed pure brilliance in finishing ahead against such a strong field.'
Photo: Gachaga and Chepngeno cross the finish line in Cape Town, by Tobias Ginsberg
TOP 10 MEN
1 Morris Gachaga 33:42, 2 Victor Chumo 33:45, 3 John Langat 33:47, 4 Abdallah Mande 33:53, 5 Mande Bushendich 33:55, 6 Noah Kipkemboi 34:00, 7 Mathew Kimutai 34:01, 8 Filmon Ande 34:06, 9 Stephen Mokoka 34:17, 10 Joel Mmone 34:35
TOP 10 WOMEN
1 Jackline Chepngeno 39:12, 2 Stella Chesang 39:28, 3 Kesa Molotsane 39:53, 4 Betha Chikanga 39:54, 5 Glenrose Xaba 40:03, 6 Nolene Conrad 40:09, 7 Nancy Wambua 40:15, 8 Rudo Mhonderwa 42:02, 9 Christine Kalmer 42:06, 10 Zintle Xiniwe 42:13