MATABELELAND South middle-distance runner Nkosiyazi Sibanda yesterday beat last year’s record by four minutes to successfully defend his Econet 42km Victoria Falls Marathon title at the resort town.
Sibanda walked away $500 richer after leading the pack from the starting point through the course to romp home in two hours 19mins and 11secs
Last year he crossed the finishing line in two hours 23mins and 11secs and this year’s second-placed Leonard Koki and Collin Parura failed to beat that record, crossing the line in 2hrs 23mins and 53secs.
Sibanda was ecstatic about the feat of not only managing to defend the title, but beating the record he set last year in the same race.
“I came into this race as the defending champion and that made me very determined to win.
I had trained hard this year in preparation for this marathon and it has paid off. I’m looking forward to continue to dominate the race in the coming editions and defend my title,” he said.
The women’s category was won by veteran long-distance runner Samukeliso Moyo who finished in two hours 54mins and 34secs with Chiedza Choko coming in three minutes later to finish the race in second position in 2hrs57mins and 49secs while Muchaneta Gwata and Monica Kalishu came in at third and fourth place respectively.
The half-marathon was won by Wirimai Juwawo who clocked one hour five min and 49secs failing to beat last year’s record of 1hr5mins and 36secs.
Jonathan Chingoka came second in 1hour6mins. Contance Nyasango won the women’s half-marathon in 1hr, 18min and 56secs while Alicen Manake came second in one hour 21minutes and nine seconds.
Econet’s corporate communications manager Ranga Mberi said he was impressed with the improvement in numbers of people that participated in this year’s edition of the race.
“We experienced a huge improvement in terms of participants as we had over 700 athletes entering this year’s race as compared to last year’s 500.
“It was good to see that we had a lot of athletes entering the race as families and this shows that this is also a family event.
“We encourage more of our local athletes to come and participate so as to increase the level of competition in the race,” Mberi added.
This year’s race saw 28 countries being represented with Zimbabwe as the host providing the bulk of the competitors, with 238 athletes while South Africa had 107 athletes participating in the race.
United Kingdom and US provided 47 and 31 athletes respectively.
Other countries that were also represented in the race include Japan, Thailand, Brazil, Germany, Kenya, Mexico and a contingent of athletes from West African countries as well.