Athletics
KweséESPN staff 76d

Cheptegei headlines Durban 10km race

Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei will headline the FNB Durban CITYSURFRUN, in a boon for the organisers who aim to make the race the fastest 10km in the world.

Cheptegei won silver at the 2017 World Championship‚ finishing just behind Somalia-born Briton Mo Farah, who has now retired from the track.

Joining Cheptegei on the start line on October 8 will be South African 10km record holder Stephen Mokoka and they will set off with Bernard Kimeli's 2017 world best of 27:18 as a target.

"Durban‚ I will see you on October 8," said Cheptegei in a press release from Stillwater Sports, the organisers of the race.

"I am looking forward to this and want to run a very fast time. It is a great honour for me to be invited to this race and I will do my best to make sure it is all everyone expects‚" he said.

Mokoka, meanwhile, said he was excited for the challenge that the Ugandan would pose.

"This is great news. Joshua is a very good racer. I competed against him in London at the World Championships in the 10 000m‚ where he finished just behind Mo Farah. It is great that Stillwater Sports is bringing this calibre of athletes to South Africa. It inspires us‚" he said.

Mokoka is hopeful that Cheptegei's presence will push him to beat his own national record of 27:38.

"When we race against these athletes at home‚ we must put on a show. The course is flat. With athletes like Joshua Cheptegei in the field‚ it will be fast. I think that I can break my own SA record‚" he said.

As it happens, there is an extra incentive for the headline acts to put on a show. If Mokoka -- or any other SA runner -- does set a new national record‚ they will get a R300 000 (about US$23 200) bonus. That increases to R500 000 (about US$38 700) if the world record of 26:44 -- set by Kenyan Leonard Patrick Komon in 2010 -- is broken.

"When organisers offer these incentives‚ athletes are sure to put their hearts on the line. You will be treated to a showdown in Durban‚" said Cheptegei, whose personal best is 27:46 set last year.

Stillwater Sports, for their part, are pleased to have been able to entice Cheptegei to the event which will start in front of the already iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium and finish on the famed 'Golden Mile'.

"Having the best athletes in the world competing in South Africa raises the level of competition for our athletes," said Michael Meyer‚ Stillwater Sports' managing director.

"This‚ in turn‚ raises the performance of our South African athletes. When these athletes line up in international races‚ they can do so with confidence. It is a win-win situation. Our athletes' standards improve and South Africa gets to see the world's best live."

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