Thupeyo Muleya in Beitbridge
LONG-DISTANCE runner Nkosiyazi Sibanda of Blanket Mine Athletics Club raised the country’s flag high again after winning the Two Countries Marathon which involves Zimbabwe and South Africa on Saturday.
Sibanda won the race for the eighth time after shrugging off competition from 90 others including Peter Tumbare and Lloyd Muchena (both Zimbabweans) who came second and third respectively.
Last year’s winner, Lutendo Mapoto of South Africa, came fourth.
The event, which is jointly organised by the Beitbridge Rural District Council, Beitbridge Municipality and Musina Municipality, was held between Beitbridge and Musina towns for the 14th year as part of celebrating the twining agreement which was signed in 1996.
Since its inception, Zimbabwean athletes have continued to dominate the race, which starts at Nottingham turn- off some 10km along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo Road and ends at Eric Louw High School in Musina, South Africa.
For his efforts, Sibanda pocketed R7 000 and a gold medal while Tumbare and Muchena received R4 000 and R3 000 respectively.
All the finishers received consolation medals. South Africa’s race co-ordinator, Matthews Sithole, said the race was a great success considering that it was attracting more athletes each year.
“The significance of the marathon is to build relations for people from the two countries starting at local governance level. This is a unique marathon starting in one country and ending in the other country.
“We are happy with the growth of the race since we are attracting more professional athletes. However, we need to do more on marketing the race and to increase the prize money so that we attract more corporates and athletes,” he said.
Beitbridge East Member of Parliament Albert Nguluvhe, who also took part in the first 10km of the race, said the marathon will go a long way in enhancing cooperation between citizens and institutions from Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“It is important to note that we are just one people as Africans who are only divided by a colonial border. I also want to encourage people to live healthy lives and exercise regularly. A healthy mind goes with a healthy body,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s race co-ordinator, Peter Ncube, said the Two Countries Marathon was more than just a race since it provided a platform for cooperation on local governance issues for Zimbabwe and South Africa.