ZIMBABWEANS dominated the 2018 Victoria Falls Marathon, with a Gwanda Blanket Mine bartender and a Harare-based Kuwadzana police officer winning the 42km race ahead of thousands of international runners.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Nkosiyazi Sibanda (36) finished at 2 hours 21 minutes 8 seconds, while Olivia Chitate (30) finished at 2 hours 58 minutes 35 seconds.
The duo said they felt proud representing their country and scooping the gold medals.
“I can’t explain the feeling. It is just amazing. This is my seventh time winning this marathon since 2006. The training was very difficult, but it paid off. Last year, I took position five because I’d not trained much but the difference was just two minutes. In a race every second counts. As a bartender, winning such events means a lot because with the money, I can take care of my family,” Sibanda said after the race.
“I am very happy to become the first defending 2018 marathon female winner. The preparations were very hard because I knew I was going to compete with international athletes like those from Zambia, so I trained very hard. This is my third year participating, but I’d never won. On the two events, I was coming out second. I shall continue doing so, it is fulfilling,” Chitate said
Sibanda was followed by Zambian athlete Matthews Mutanya, who finished at exactly 43 seconds after.
In the wheelchair 21km category, Margaret Bangajena (41) came first, while the males category was dominated by Elford Moyo (50), who finished in 1 hour 3 minutes.
In the 21,1km category, veteran marathon Rudo Mhonderwa (42) came first in the female race, while Trust Chidomaya (42) came out first in the male one.
In the same distance category, the female master race was dominated by Torum Oelstad, who did 1 hour 50 minutes 53 seconds, while Garikayi Kapfunde finished second at 1 hour 29 minutes 52 seconds.
In the open 21,1km race Tatenda Hove and Betha Chikanga took position one, all finishing just after the hour lapse.
For the handcyle, Alexandra Mkandiya (54) dominated uncontested.
In the 21,1km relay, Ngonidzashe Ncube paired with Isaac Mpofu to dominate the male race, while IIeen Bvenge and Wengai Kajakacha won the female one, as Laina Shambare and Blessed Mukandi shined first in the mixed relay.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Econet chief operating officer Fayaz King revealed that the marathon registration rose by 67% from the previous years, bringing the total to 4 181 athletes.
“So, going forward, we see a great future. We want to go bigger, we want to make it better where we are going to see more international participants coming to race in Victoria Falls in one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is unique as running down in the morning being sprayed by Zambezi water to cool you down.”
He said international runners were drawn from as far as the United States, the United Kindgom, Australia, India, South Africa and Zambia, among other countries, together with strong local race lovers.
The sponsorship manager Debbie Harrison said the marathon was a success, even though a herd of 12 elephants delayed the runners for some few minutes near the big tree, as they were crossing the road.