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I was prompted to write this by an article titled Mokoka aura of invincibility to be tested in Cape Town on the Supersport website.

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First off, this should be a cracking 5000m race.

It is worth mentioning this because there should be a lot more high profile distance races in South Africa than there are. The talent pool is deep and vast in South Africa. With some structure in place, meetings held in the right locations at the right time of the year should be producing fantastic races and fast times – when at sea-level.

I can’t believe Shadrack Hoff is still motoring on after all these years. I have no idea of the form he is in but am very much looking forward to finding out!

Just seeing his name on the start list is a trip down memory lane. In the mid-90’s there was a great rivalry between Shadrack and former Witsie club-mate Hendrick Ramaala. (As an aside I think Hendrick will be the first to admit that his best running was done when mingling with the Wits Track sessions on Thursday afternoons, and on the inter-university championships on road, track and cross-country).

Anyway Hendrick and Shadrack had some good battles, on track and road, back in those days.

Fast forward fifteen years and Hendrick is still operating at an elite level, having “progressed” through the distances. He has enjoyed a world class and I do mean WORLD CLASS career on the roads, most notably in the half marathon (two-time World Silver medallist, sub-60 runner before the millennium – an extremely rare feat back then) and marathon (NYC win and runner-up, multiple London top tens). Unquestionably our most successful distance runner ever, on the international stage.

So it is fantastic, and surprising, to see Hoff is still at it as well. And he is still hitting the 5k track races “showing the youngsters how to do it” etc etc. Outstanding work.

I guess it is no coincidence that the two who excelled the most are the two who would appear to have loved it the most, by virtue of the fact that both are still out there testing themselves, long after many of their contemporaries are putting their feet up and talking about how good they used to be.

But to conclude with some realism. There’s scant place for sentiment when it comes to elite distance running. For the 5k tomorrow I fully expect Stephen Mokoka to show Shadrack Hoff that his time has passed and that it’s all about the youngsters.

Stephen, who finished one second behind Mo Farah in 46:26 in the 2009 Great South Run (10 Miles), and a creditable 8th in the World Half Marathon Championships in Birmingham in 2009, could well – with the right career direction – become the heir apparent to the Ramaala throne.

But that’s for another time.

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