Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
ATHLETES have been challenged to break the recent PPC Matopos 33 Miler Marathon record that was set by Charles Soza when he completed the 53km ultra marathon in 3 hours 11 minutes and two seconds in 2014.
Speaking during a press conference to launch this year’s race, PPC Zimbabwe managing director, Kelibone Masiyane said athletes should come in top form and seek to make their piece of history.
The marathon was reintroduced seven years ago after a long sabbatical but the all-time record is held by Tommy Lazarus who ran 3 hours, three minutes and 18secs in 1984.
Masiyane said they are expecting a field of 2000 professional and amateur runners following last year’s massive 1300.
He said the race has been growing steadily over the years and expressed his company’s commitment to develop the race into being a “true world class event”.
“We are working closely with the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe to ensure there are more officials dedicated to the administering of the race on the day. There will be personnel at all intersections within the (Matopos National) park to direct and monitor athletes, as well as personnel in all leading cars to ensure smooth event route co-ordination. PPC has also invested in more signage and branding and a familiarisation exercise will be carried out to ensure all officials involved with the race are confident about the route.”
He said they are partnering timing giants, ChampionChip Africa, the largest marathon electronic timing company in Africa, who run play a similar role in South Africa’s Comrades and Two Oceans Marathons.
Masiyane said they are excited about the ground breaking move as the PPC Matopos 33 Miler is the first race in Zimbabwe to engage ChampionChip.
He said the use of electronic timing is an important step towards elevating the race to world class status through provision of accurate data to athletes although the timing chips will only be used for the ultra marathon and half marathon while the 10km and 5km fun runs will not be timed.
Masiyane revealed registration has already commenced adding the introduction of online registration this year is expected to see an increase in numbers and early registration. Forms are available at Naaz and PPC offices countrywide and on the marathon’s website, matoposmarathon.com.
Masiyane said this year’s theme, ‘Run Your Race’ speaks to all professional, amateur and fun run athletes who might want to take part in the race.
“While we invite you to come and take part in the race, we are cognisant of the fact that runners partake in this event for different reasons. Some run to win the prize money and prove to their peers that they are the best in the field, others take this as a personal fitness challenge and some come for fun, to walk and to socialise with their friends,” he said.
PPC Zimbabwe have maintained last year’s prizes, with winners of both categories (men and women) for the main race each getting $1 000 and $750 for the runners-up, while the veterans, masters and grandmasters’ winners will receive $400 each for the ultra marathon.
For the half marathon, winners in the men’s and women’s sections will receive $500 each, with the wheelchair category prizes pegged at $400 for the winners in each section.
The course has been measured and certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and this has raised the status of the marathon to being a qualifying event for international races, including the Comrades.
The race was first run in 1963 and was organised by the Raylton Rovers Running Club. The winner of the inaugural race was Charlie Chase from Germiston, South Africa in a time of 3hrs, 44 minutes and 56 seconds.-@rasmthembo