Using his experience, Stephen Mokoka hopes to put up a challenge on Saturday as he prepares to lead the South African team at the World Half-Marathon Championships in Cardiff.
Mokoka has competed four times at the global 21km showpiece, twice finishing eighth.
He took 12th position at the previous edition of the championships in Copenhagen two years ago, guiding the national men’s squad to fourth place in the team competition behind powerhouse road running nations Eritrea, Kenya and Ethiopia.
“I’m hoping to go with a decent pace, and just try get a good time and a good position,” Mokoka said on Thursday night.
“I haven’t see the course yet, only tomorrow, but I am hoping for very good time.”
Mokoka will be joined in the men’s race by national champion Lucky Mohale, Gladwin Mzazi, Mbongeni Ngxazozo and World Half-Marathon Championships debutant Vuyisile Tshoba.
The entire team went for a run shortly after arriving in Cardiff, and though it was cold and wet, Mokoka believed he was in shape to approach his personal best of 1:00:47 if conditions were conducive.
“There’s a bit of rain from time to time and it’s a little bit cold, but if it’s five degrees (celsius) that’s perfect weather for a long race,” he said.
“I’m excited. The only thing that’s not nice is the rain.”
The line-up is spearheaded by Mo Farah, a five-time world champion and double Olympic gold medallist on the track, who aims to become the first British athlete to lift the men’s crown at the 21km showpiece.
World cross country champion Geoffrey Kamworor is also among the favourites, as he returns to defend the global half-marathon title he won two seasons back.
The 100-strong field includes nine men who have run under 60 minutes in their careers, and while it is a world class line-up, all five members of the SA team have dipped under 1:02:30 in the last nine months and they will hope to put up a fight in the team competition.
The SA women’s squad will also be eager to make an impact, though they are up against a full-strength 91-member field including 15 women who have gone below the 1:10:00 barrier.
Lebo Phalula, who won the national title in 1:11:54 last season, joins twin sister Lebogang Phalula as they turn out at the biennial half-marathon championships for the first time.
They will be backed by the experienced trio of Nolene Conrad, Cornelia Joubert and Zintle Xiniwe.