Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
DEFENDING champion in the Old Mutual Westgate Half marathon Jacob Mugomeri is confident of retaining his title tomorrow when middle and long-distance runners meet in the country’s richest race. The race will start at Westgate Shopping Centre and finish at the same point. The annual half marathon is expected to attract some of the country’s best athletes in both the men and women’s categories.
Mugomeri, who won the Kariba half marathon last month, said he is geared up for tomorrow’s race. “My training has been going on well and I will try to defend my title. I am going to do my best and I am going to defend my title because I ran a half marathon in April and on August 12, I won the Kariba half marathon, so I think I am ready for the race.
“Competition is going to be tough this year, I think it’s going to be very high because I understand there will be guys from Kenya, so it’s going to be tougher than last year,” said Mugomeri.
The 23-year-old beat the likes of Elijah Mabhunu, Lewis Masunda and Kelvin Pangiso to win last year’s edition.
Reigning champion in the women’s section Rutendo Nyahora will also be available to defend her title and yesterday said she is in good shape for the race.
Nyahora recently won the Pretoria Spar women’s 10km challenge in South Africa.
“I am going to compete and it’s not going to be easy being the defending champion but I will do my best.
“My preparations are going on well since the beginning of this year. I was training for the Spar women’s race and I have been good, I have no complaints and I believe I am in good shape for the race.
“I came first in Pretoria, it was the toughest race because we ran around 2pm and it was hot but I did well. So after that race I saw that I am in good shape because running in such a big race and crossing the finish line first was amazing, I could not believe it. I also used the race as part of my preparations for the Old Mutual race. I know the Old Mutual race is becoming a tough race in Zimbabwe but after the event in South Africa I started gaining confidence that I can defend my title,” said Nyahora.
The sponsors have maintained last year’s prizes with the winners in the 21km race from both the men and women’s sections getting US$3 000.
Second and third place finishers will get $2 000 and $1 000 respectively. Winners from wheelchair racing will receive $1 000 and for the 10km race the first prize is $300.