Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
SEASONED long-distance runner Canisious Nyamutsita underlined his status as one of the most consistent athletes in the country when he retained the Old Mutual Vumba Mountain Run half marathon title on Saturday.
Nyamutsita was the first to cross the finish line in 1hour 10 minutes 48 seconds to be crowned champion for the third consecutive year.
The Mr Pace Athletics club runner first won the race in 2016. He went on to defend the title last year and on Saturday he made it three in a row.
Tatenda Hove came second in 1 hour 11 minutes 30 seconds and on third place was Munyaradzi Jari in 1hour 11minutes 31 seconds.
Nyamutsita, who ran 1 hour 13 minutes 53 seconds last year was happy to beat his previous time but said it was not an easy task.
“I always want to improve my time when I compete, that’s what I have been focusing on because I want to be an international champion in the future.
“So even if I reduce my time with 20seconds I will be happy, so I am very happy with my time. This time around I ran 1hour 10minutes and last year I ran 1 hour 13 minutes. The position is just a bonus.
“The competition is always tough, most of the athletes compete in this race. So it’s all about training and Vumba is not just about speed, it’s about endurance. And maybe I am getting used to the course,” said Nyamutsita.
The 27-year-old has had some good performances this season, winning several races on the local scene including the Old Mutual Westgate half marathon, Nkulumane half marathon and Tanganda half marathon among other races.
“I have been working hard and training to be where I am. The most important thing is determination and following instructions from the coaches as well as patience. And this year my focus has been mainly on the 21km races since I am thinking of going for the 42km now. My aim is to make the 2020 Olympic Games,” said Nyamutsita.
In the women’s section Rudo Mhonderwa romped to victory in 1 hour 23 minutes 20 seconds. She was followed by Caroline Mhandu, who crossed the finish line in 1 hour 25 minutes 56 seconds.
Although she could not claim the title, Mhandu of Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services was satisfied with her performance after coming second.
“The race was okay, even the weather was good and I am very happy with my performance because it’s a mountain run. The competition was not easy but I want to thank God for giving me strength.
“Vumba Mountain run is a very big race in Zimbabwe and most professional athletes usually compete. The competition was not so easy . . . Next year I am hoping to improve and do better than this,” said Mhandu.
Betha Chikanga came third in 1 hour 28 minutes 7 seconds.
The winners in the 21km race got $1 500.
Manicaland Athletics Board chairman, Joshua Matume described the event as a success with 1 000 participants taking part. He also commended the sponsors for increasing the prize-money from $1 000 to $1 500 this year.