The Sunday News
Nkosilathi Sibanda, Sunday Leisure Correspondent
MARATHON runners countrywide are defying all odds as they brace for the toughest contest in the land, the Tanganda half marathon slated for 30 June in the mountainous terrain of Mutare.
The athletes’ biggest challenge in this marathon lies in beating personal records as the race is seen as a test pedestal for upcoming marathons as the athletics season heats up in the sports calendar.
Few have managed to get close to breaking records at the Tanganda event, in what has been termed the 21KM stretch as “Zimbabwe’s most gruesome race ever”.
Over the years, even local seasoned long distance runners who have won elsewhere have failed to beat the clock at Tanganda, but still they never tire to compete in every edition.
Over 1 000 runners are expected to take part in this year’s edition and sponsors, the Tanganda Tea Company affirmed their commitment to organise the best race ever.
Wheelchair runners Melford Moyo and Thandiwe Ndlovu will also be contenders for gold again this year.
In separate interviews at marathons held in Bulawayo, seasoned athletes said they have upped their preparation for the competition.
Even champions pacers Samukeliso Moyo and Wirimai Juwawo concur that participating at the Tanganda race is a must for every athlete.
“Running in Mutare is no child’s play. The Tanganda half marathon is just 21km but on finishing the race, one feels as though they have done a full marathon. It is one race to go for. As a veteran, I encourage that it is a must for any athlete who wants to gun for glory,” said Moyo, a regular veteran who runs the masters at the marathon.
Juwawo, who has once competed in the Olympics, said the Tanganda meet is not for the faint hearted.
“Every race requires training. I urge athletes competing this year not to take the race lightly.”
The spokesperson for the marathon Tsitsi Kumadiro, is upbeat about preparation toward the event.
“The Tanganda half marathon is a meet for athletes that aim to do more than offering a platform for talent and exposure in sport. We seek to build communities through sports. In that way, we present the Tanganda Tea brand as one that aims at campaigning for a healthy lifestyle through running and promoting athletics in the county.
“We emphasise that the race is open to all Zimbabweans who want to keep fit by taking part in such competitions,” Kumadiro said.