BULAWAYO athletics board chairperson Brian Manuel Mpofu has welcomed the postponement of the Gutu half-marathon as a blessing in disguise for athletes.
Mpofu said the decision to set a later date for the marathon that celebrates the life of the late Vice-President Simon Muzenda would enable athletes to take part in the Masiyephambili marathon set for November 3.
“The postponement of the Gutu half-marathon is a good development. We had been wondering how athletes were going to participate in these two events within a short space of time. At least now athletes have three weeks to prepare for the Gutu half-marathon after competing in the Masiyephambili marathon,” he said.
Mpofu said athletes were now focusing on the Masiyephambili marathon.
“Now athletes have shifted their attention to the Masiyephambili marathon. We expect a large turnout because of the postponement of the ‘Mzee’ half-marathon,” he said.
The Gutu half-marathon, initially set for October 26, has been postponed to November 30 amid revelations family members of the late Vice-President were not comfortable with the earlier date.
The in-form Blanket mine long-distance runner Nkosiyazi Sibanda said he was ready for the Masiyephambili event.
“I have been preparing for this event. I started preparations soon after the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo half-marathon.
Now that the Gutu race has been postponed, I am now focusing on the Masiyephambili marathon which I am looking forward to win,” Sibanda said.
Sibanda, yet to clinch gold in the Gutu half-marathon, will be making his fifth appearance in the annual race after coming third in 2006, second in 2007 and 2008, and fifth last year.
He previously told this publication that he wanted to win the Gutu half-marathon for the first time.
Sibanda is this year’s most decorated long-distance runner after winning gold medals in the Econet 42km Victoria Falls marathon, Two oceans half-marathon in South Africa and the inaugural Joshua Mqabuko half-marathon.
Wirimayi Zhuwawo hit the tap in one hour two minutes to win last year’s Mzee competition.