THE determination to see athletics growing is what drives Collen Makaza and despite some challenges this year, he is looking at spreading his wings from long distance events to the track as well through his Mr Pace Athletics Club.
The club has four of its events lined up for 2021 included on the national calendar recently released by the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe.
The club, which is based in Chitungwiza, is popular for its cross-country events usually held in January. Some years back they used the stage the Mr Pace Marathon and they have been focusing more on nurturing long distance runners.
However, the club is aiming to spread its wings to the track competitions next year and is slated for May.
The club is also set to bring back the Mr Pace Marathon and introducing a half-marathon as well.
Speaking to The Herald, club owner Collen Makaza said there has been growing demand for track events and believes they can play their role by hosting some of the events.
“The idea for a track event is because of the demand from athletes. We want to increase competition, and promote juniors as well. For developmental purposes, instead of juniors going straight into road races, it’s good they start from track.
“2020 was a hard year for us. But for 2021 we are going to have our first event on the 31st of January which is the cross country event. We have changed the venue for next year because schools are closed to the public, they are not yet cleared to host any events.
“So we are hosting the cross country competition at the National Sports Stadium, outside the stadium, that will be our route. Then on May 9 we have our track meet, where we have about eight events. Previously we were focusing on cross-country, so it’s going to be our first track competition.
“We last had the Mr Pace Marathon in 2011 and its coming back, so on the NAAZ calendar we have four events that will be run by Mr Pace club,” said Makaza. NAAZ have said they would want to focus on the main national events come next year, and are decentralising competition to provinces.
The club that had a total of 25 athletes by end of last year has also had its fair share of challenges this year.
They have lost some of their athletes and they are now left with 15.
“Things were going well before the Covid-19 pandemic. But after that outbreak things got tough and we lost some of our athletes, and some got married. So most of them dropped after the first lockdown.
“We have not just lost athletes but also our sponsor who is a South African sponsor, so at the moment we don’t have a sponsor because they said we cannot give you anything because there is no activity. “But they promised they might come back in 2021,” Makaza said.
But as the club prepares for next year’s events, Makaza is confident they will be able to meet all the costs and hold all the four events.