MORE than 300 athletes are expected to compete this morning in the Portland Pretoria Cement (PPC) Matopos 33-Miler with the winners of the ultra-marathon getting $750.
Veteran middle and long-distance athletes are expected to compete in the race which starts at 5:30am at the Moth Shrine in the Matopos National Park and end at the Bulawayo Athletic Club along 12th Avenue.
Athletes expected to take part include Wirimai Juwawo, Cuthbert Nyasango, Gilbert Mutandirio, Jonathan Chinyoka, John Tayarira, Charles Chivanga and Elijah Mabhunu.
In the women’s category defending champion Monica Kativhu who won the race in a time of five hours four minutes and 15 seconds last year, will compete against Olivia Chitate and Rutendo Nyahora.
Chitate and Nyahora are seasoned athletes who could give Kativhu tough competition.
Middle-distance athletes Annie Chirisa, Faith Nyasango, Constance Nyasango and Margaret Bangajena are also expected to be part of the field.
“We have started registration for the marathon and we are expecting more than 300 athletes to take part. These will also include the 21km, veterans, fun walk and the 5km run,” Bulawayo Athletics Board secretary Dailes Bingadadi said.
She said they were expecting this year’s competition to be bigger than last year as the sponsors had also increased the prize money. Sponsors PPC and the athletics board set aside $10 200 for prize money with the winner getting $750, $500 for the second-placed athlete and $350 for the third.
In the half-marathon the winner will receive $500, with $350 and $175 set aside for second and third places respectively while in the wheelchair category $300 will for the winner, $210 for second place and $150 for third.
Bingadadi said the route has been marked clearly for the athletes and they would not have problems navigating through.
“We have corrected all our mistakes from last year and this year we are hoping everything will go well. The route will not confuse the athletes, it is now straight forward. We are expecting a large group of juniors in the relays and the 5km race,” she said.
The athletes would be aiming at breaking the course record of three hours, three minutes and 18secs run by Tommy Lazarus in 1984.