HomeSportRich pickings in Westgate race

Rich pickings in Westgate race

The sponsors of the county’s richest athletics event, the Old Mutual Westgate half-marathon have upped the stakes for the second edition of the event, pouring more than US$100 000.

By Brian Nkiwane

The event, which is set for Sunday, November 10 at Westgate Shopping Mall, will see prizes worth US$25 000 being won on the particular day, up from last year’s US$16 000.

According to Old Mutual spokesperson Grace Mukahanana, the sponsors are trying to spread athletics across the country as they had the Old Mutual Vumba Mountain race last week in Vumba, the Westgate Marathon set for Harare this weekend as well as another race set for Bulawayo in December.

She, however, emphasised that the Westgate Marathon remained the biggest of them all in terms of rewards.

“We are trying hard to spread the sport across the country. The Westgate Marathon remains the biggest of them all. We have upped the overall prizes stake from last year’s US$16 000 to US$25 000, but individual prizes for winners have not changed. Winners in both male and female categories will walk away US$3 000 richer,” Mukahanana said.

In a bid to avoid overwhelming participation, with the assistance of the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (Naaz), they decided to introduce registration fees of US$5 per adult and US$1 for students, which will act as a restrictive measure.

“Last year we had an overwhelming number of participants, close to 2 500 and we ended up having problems with managing them. So this year we expect a maximum of 1 000 athletes which we will be able to manage,” said Harare athletics board representative Sebastian Garikai.

Garikai bemoaned athletes’ attitude of not wanting to register on time before the race.

“Our athletes are used to registering on the race day, which then gives us more pressure. This time around we want to do away with that. We tried pre-registration last year but athletes had to come for registration on the same morning, but because some of them had come from far away areas, we had to accommodate them.”

Last year’s race was won by Virimayi who set a winning time of 1,02,70, a considerable distance ahead of second-placed Calvin Pangiso, who finished in 1,10,38. Edmore Sibanda crossed the line in third place in a time of 1,10,56.

Top local female athlete Rutendo Nyahora edged Netherlands-based Sharon Tavengwa to win the women’s race in 1,11,33.

Tavengwa finished second with Faith Nyasango coming third.

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