Kenyans on top in Cape Town but Elroy makes it a Red Letter Day in a close 10km contest

Start of Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10K in Milnerton. Photo -

Kenya reigned supreme at the Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10K this morning (Sunday 12 May), but new star Vincent Langat had his work cut out before getting the better of South Africa’s rejuvenated running machine, Elroy Gelant.

Twelve thousand runners, most wearing their newly acquired race shirt, ran the traditional 10km from Woodbridge Island, Milnerton, into the City Centre, the long snake of runners painting the town red in a Mother’s Day celebration of health and wellbeing.

Red Tide – thousands of runners race to the finish in Long Street. Photo – Stephen Granger

Yesterday’s calm weather conditions continued into the early hours this morning, but hopes of racing nirvana were dashed as the morning zephyr strengthened to gusting as the runners headed into the City Centre.

Twenty-three-year-old Langat won by just 3 seconds in 27:51 while his compatriot, Diana Chepkorir, one year his junior, enjoyed a more comfortable margin, racing to a 31:47 victory – 29 seconds clear of Lesotho athlete, Neheng Khatala. Langat and Chepkorir also won the season opener in Gqeberha last month.

Kenyans Victor Kipruto (28:28) and Veronica Loleo (31:38) took line honours at RYC Cape Town last year, with another Kenyan, Daniel Ebenyo (27:34), and Ugandan Stella Chesang (30:40) winning in 2022 in times which still stand as race records.

Vincent Langat wins the 2024 Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10K. Photo – Mark Sampson

“I feel good about my run,” Langat said. “This is a nice place to break 28 minutes again.  Today was even better than the Gqeberha race as the pace was faster from the start. My rivals were strong – I loved them because they pushed me hard. I’d like to return and compete in other races in the series this year.”

Chepkorir echoed her countryman’s sentiments. “South Africa is a nice place – I really like it and will come back again to race in the series. I feel happy. Although the conditions were variable, the course was good.”

But the man of the moment was Gelant. Like wine, the 37-year-old appears to improve with age and raced to his first sub-28 min 10km time, in spite of the wind. And in a stacked field where luminaries such as Stephen Mokoka, Precious Mashele and Melikhaya Frans failed to make the top ten, Gelant shone like a beacon, taking charge of the race from the start to ensure a competitive pace.

Elroy Gelant – shone like a beacon. Photo – Mark Sampson

Ironically, on a day where Gelant turned in one of the best races of his career, he received the news that his 2024 Olympic dreams were almost certainly over. World Athletics’ universality policy of advancing Olympic Marathon entries for smaller nations ahead of other countries’ second or third-ranked athletes, who might have gained the nod based on world ranking, was the death-knell for Gelant’s chances.

But nothing could dampen Gelant’s elation on the day as he projected alternative racing scenarios for the second half of the year. And his R60 000 incentive for running under 28 minutes added to his R25 000 for second place would have also eased his Parisian disappointment.

“I’m happy – really happy,” Gelant related. “I said that I would not chase a sub-28 time but would just focus on the confidence and positivity arising from my preparation. So the sub-28 time (the sixth South African to have achieved it) was a gift to me today.

Elroy Gelant with his ‘Pacaltsdorp neighbour’ Lloyd Bosman. Photo – Stephen Granger

“I’m still happy with the journey leading up to the Olympics, and if I’m not in the team, I will continue to work with the structure I’ve put in place and aim for a fast marathon later in the year – potentially going faster than 2 hr 06 min and the national record.”

Gelant was one of the athletes in the line-up for the inaugural 2015 race into the City – then run over 12km and under the banner of a rival bank. “Back in 2015 our journey started here,” Gelant recalled. “And today is a fantastic day for me and my supporters back home – my girlfriend Tamsyn Thomas, my coach Jean Verster and my group of training partners have all played important roles.

“There was likely some residual tiredness in my legs after the marathon in Durban two weeks ago (where Gelant won the national title) and I felt it in the last kilometre. But the increased motivation and discipline I gained from winning the marathon title was strong. So perhaps it was 50-50 – the extra motivation versus the leg tiredness!”

Gelant went out hard from the start, running clear of the chasing pack for the first three kilometres. “I just told myself that if the wind is blowing, I just needed to change my angle of running, not my approach. I had set my watch on SA Record time – 27:30. And I was running that pace initially.”

The chasing pack of nine, spearheaded by Langat and fellow-Kenyan, Francis Abong Koumwa, who was racing outside Kenya for the first time, caught Gelant at 3km but had been downsized to just five at halfway, with Gelant, Langat, Abong and South Africans Lloyd Bosman and Bongelani Mkhwanazi passing through in 14:11.

Another Kenyan, Maxon Kipnetich, and South Africans George Kusch, Mathews Leeto and Ndlovu Mfundo trailed close behind.

Leading Men approaching 7km at Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10K. Vincent Langat (right) races with Elroy Gelant and Francis Abong, Photo – Mark Sampson

“Obviously I knew the wind would be a factor, and it was,” Gelant continued. “But I decided that I was still going to go for it.  I knew I might not win the race, but I wanted to go for a fast time.”

Only Gelant was able to match Langat as he surged towards the top end of Adderley Street and up the short climb past the cathedral in Wale Street, but a final surge from Langat as he turned into Long Street for the final kilometre to the finish decided the race as Gelant was unable to stay in contact.

The South African fought back in the final stages as Langat took the tape just three seconds ahead of his rival. Abong held on for third ahead of Kipngetich with 27-year-old KZN athlete, Bongelani Mkhwanazi, enjoying a superb day out with a 9 second personal best of 28:35 in 4th ahead of Lesotho’s Kamohelo Mofolo.

Diana Chepkorir wins her second successive Absa RYC Series 10km at Cape Town,. Photo – Mark Sampson

Chepkorir led the women’s race from the start and ran comfortably ahead of her closest rivals Khatala and Ethiopian junior, Getenesh Agafew, racing through the halfway mark in 16:08, 10 seconds up on her rivals with first South Africa, Cacisile Sosibo, a further 13 seconds back.  

The Kenyan upped the pace in the second half, running 15:39, and sealing an emphatic win, which will give her confidence ahead of her imminent departure for the USA, where she plans to race a 10 000m track race with a view to making the Kenyan Olympic team.

Khatala finished in 32:16 with Agafew completing the podium in 32:48.