By Ellina Mhlanga
CANISIOUS Nyamutsita of Mr Pace Athletics Club retained the Old Mutual Westgate half-marathon after winning the road race in Harare yesterday.
Nyamutsita was the first to cross the finish line in 1hour 6minutes 33seconds, beating other top athletes such as Moses Tarakinyu, who came second in one hour 6 minutes 58 seconds.
Kelvin Pangiso followed home in third position with a time of one hour 7 minustes 8 seconds.
Nyamutsita took the lead with just 3km to go and maintained the distance to defend the title. He is set to run in the Copenhagen half-marathon in Demark on September 16.
“Today I am happy because I managed to defend my title. But my time as part of my preparation for Denmark, it was not that impressive. But there wasn’t much time because on September 16 I will be in Denmark, so I needed to manage the two races. I am happy with my position.
“The race was tough because everyone was giving their best, it was not easy but at the end I took the lead and won. It is always about training. And also the terrain was good.
The women’s title went to Rutendo Nyahora in one hour 18 minutes 6 seconds while Caroline Mhandu was second in one hour 18 minutes 33 seconds.
This year’s race attracted three athletes from Kenya – Linus Kipwambok Chumba, Dorcus Chesang and Purity Jerop Biwott.
Chumba finished on position 10 in the men’s race while Chesang and Biwott competed in the women’s section and were seventh and eighth respectively.
Nyahora, who won the same half-marathon in 2012 and 2015, said yesterday’s victory is a good sign as she is still recovering from a persisting hamstring injury.
“The race was a bit heavy for me especially from the start I was feeling heavy because since July I have been racing every week. In fact, for the past five weeks I have been racing so I could tell that my body is now tired, my legs were tired so I couldn’t move.
“I can see a big improvement because I was injured for quite sometime. I couldn’t train, I couldn’t do anything but now I can see I am coming back strong and stronger than before,” said Nyahora.
Rudo Mhonderwa settled for third position in one hour 19 minutes 10 seconds.
Both Nyamutsita and Nyahora got $3 000 for emerging winners.
Last year’s winner in the women’s section, Betha Chikang,a opted for the 10km race this time around as she prepares for the Copenhagen 21km race and she came first in 35minutes 42seconds.
The men’s race was won by Blessmore Chidziva in 32 minutes 6 seconds.
Elford Moyo maintained his grip in the 21km wheelchair race when he came first in one hour 6 minutes 32 seconds and Thandiwe Ndlovu won the women’s section.
“We are very excited about the growth of the race over the years. Each year the race keeps growing bigger. This year we actually received an overwhelming response, we had to limit the number of athletes who could register because it was beyond our expectation.
“So why we are excited is basically the strategy of Old Mutual Zimbabwe is to partner the Government in improving the economy and improving the communities in which we operate. So we do support healthy customers, healthy communities and the races that we support is part of that awareness to try and make the communities healthier.
“So our expectations is that we really also see this as an opportunity to market the country and in the sense that as international athletes come, one it increases competition, the challenge in the races. It also helps in marketing the country Zimbabwe and we are very excited about that,” said Mashinya.