Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
ANDREW Chimbidzikai of Black Rhinos and Kenya’s Jenniffer Koech are this year’s winners of the JM Busha 54 races marathon held in Harare yesterday. The race started and finished at Alexandra Sports Club with part of the 54km race taking the athletes through the suburbs of Marlborough, Glen Lorne and Chisipite.
The marathon is sponsored by JM Busha 54 races.
This was the second edition and for this year the organisers adjusted the distance from 42km to 54km.
Chimbidzikai ran 3hours 4minutes 55seconds to claim the first spot in a race that attracted some of the country’s top athletes as well as athletes from Kenya and Tanzania.
“The race was tough but the way I started, I just said since we have legends like (Mike) Fokorani I will try to keep my pace with them.
“I competed with them in South Africa, Two Oceans, so I was a bit afraid of them.
“When the race started I just wanted to keep up with them and I kept pushing. Coming into the race I was aiming a podium finish, that’s what I was looking at.
“So I am really happy to beat the top athletes, it’s something exciting,” said Chimbidzikai.
In second place was Peter Tumbare of Air Force with a time of 3hours 5minutes 27seconds, followed by veteran runner Mike Fokorani in 3hours 5minutes 40 seconds.
In the women’s Open, Koech romped to victory in 3hours 44minutes 59seconds beating Zimbabwe’s Muchaneta Gwata into second position.
Gwata posted a time of 4hours 14seconds.
Chiedza Chokore was third in 4hours 2minutes 35seconds.
Koech was pleased with the result and said it was good to compete in Zimbabwe for the first time
“The course was good. I really appreciate, I thank the organisers for the race and everyone who supported this race even on the way, the water points, everywhere was good.
“Even the direction they were directing us nicely, we didn’t get lost.
“Kenya is a bit tough if I compare with Kenyans . . . but most of them they are not good in ultras, 54km.
“They are good in 21km, 10km and 42km. So I just decided to train for 50s to make a change. I did some in South Africa 56km Two Oceans.
“I really enjoyed Zimbabwe I think if there will be another race I will come again,” said Koech.
The 21km men’s race went to Canisious Nyamutsita in 1hour 3minutes 21seconds while Wirimai Juwawo was second in 1hour 3minutes 35seconds.
In the women’s section Rudo Mhonderwa was the first to cross the finish line in 1hour 16minutes 8seconds.
Elford Moyo and Margaret Bangajena once again underlined their dominance in wheelchair racing, coming first in the men’s and women’s 21km respectively.
The event featured participants from schools and tertiary institutions as well with 10km and 5km races on offer.
Organising committee chairperson Sebastian Garikai said it was good to have foreign athletes gracing the event.
“Having foreigners in our event also gave it a bit of flavour. So, in a way, as the athletics family we are promoting sports tourism and we are going in the right direction.
“For the 54km we didn’t expect to get so many athletes coming in, 54km is an ultra, it is more than 42km and it takes a special breed of people to run that.
“We didn’t expect more than 60 people or more than 80 people but we got more than a 100 people coming and running the 54km. So we believe going forward we will get even more people . . . so we are proud to have hosted and run this event in this province,” said Garikai.