Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
SPONSORS of the Matopos 33-Miler, PPC Zimbabwe have apologised for the gaffe that saw the lead vehicle leading runners competing in the main event along a wrong route inside the Matopos National Park on Saturday.
A group of 31 leading runners took the wrong turn in the Matopos National Park and headed towards Maleme Dam.
The diversion from the actual route saw athletes running for about 16km before reaching a dead end.
By the time the athletes realised they were on the wrong route, they had run for over an hour and covered about 25km.
Twenty-two of the 31 leading runners were “catapulted” to the front by squeezing into the lead vehicle, which dropped them outside the Matopos National Park and they resumed the race at the Matopos Road junction.
However, nine athletes, Bruce Mathe, Allen Magwere, Rorisang Nyathi, Fixson Rukanga, Blessing Silent, Farai Mukuwa, Tawanda Gweshe, Yangu Chiungudza and Emmanuel Tooperesu withdrew from the race after failing to squeeze into the lead vehicle.
PPC Zimbabwe managing director Kelibone Masiyane said they will address the problems that happened on race day and are already working on making next year’s event a success.
“In terms of numbers, the marathon was a success. Last year we had 586 people participating and this time around the numbers doubled with 1 207 people taking part in the event. The 2017 event was remarkable and in an event of such magnitude, there are bound to be some challenges,” said Masiyane.
“However, we’re working with the event organisers (Bulawayo Athletics Board) to make sure that issues identified are rectified as we are planning on having the 2018 edition even bigger and better. We strive to host a race that is in line with global standards and in adherence with the certification of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF),” he said.
Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) road-runner Lyno Muchena won the 33-miler in three hours 13 minutes and 50 seconds and walked away with $1 000.
Muchena got the better of Zimbabwe National Army runner Andrew Chimbidzikai and Air Force of Zimbabwe’s Peter Tumbare, who came second and third respectively in three hours 14 minutes 49 seconds and three hours 15 minutes 22 seconds.
For being first and second runners-up, Chimbidzikayi and Tumbare pocketed $750 and $500 respectively.
In the women’s category, defending champion Monica Kativhu came a distant third in four hours four minutes 49 seconds.
Lizzie Chokore won the women’s race after clocking four hours and 16 seconds. Veteran runner Samukeliso Moyo was second in four hours two minutes 49 seconds.