Three-time Comrades Marathon winner Stephen Muzhingi received a timely boost ahead of the 2012 Comrades Marathon after seed- producing company Seed Co became the first local company to partner with the decorated ultra-marathon runner.
Muzhingi, who was accompanied by Zimbabwes granddad of long distance running, Freddy Kashiri, is currently in intensive training for the 2012 edition of the gruelling race which will be run on July 3 from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
Previously Muzhingi, who has won the event for the past three consecutive years, had no Zimbabwean sponsor and was sponsored by a South African company Bluff Meats.
Seed Co unveiled a lucrative sponsorship deal for Muzhingi where they presented him with branded training kits worth around $10 000 before also pledging to sponsor Muzhingis preparations for this years event.
We at Seed Co have seen it fit to lighten Stephen Muzhingis burden of resource mobilisation. We want him to train for the 2012 Comrades Marathon in the best possible way.
We have decided to assist him by providing all the necessary training kit from head to toe. We will also be fuelling his car every month so that he is able to travel to his training venues without any difficulty.
We are also going to take care of his food and accommodation in an area which he has identified to train for the marathon, said Seed Co group chief executive Morgan Zwere during the handover yesterday.
Muzhingi, who hopes to form his own athletics club thanked Seed Co for the support and declared that he was not only aiming to win a fourth consecutive title, but also break the events down-run record which stands at 5:20,49s.
I would like to thank Seed Co for this sponsorship as they are the first Zimbabwean company to sponsor me and I am grateful for the support from my bosses at the Air Force of Zimbabwe.
Im happy because Seed Co have decided not only to support Muzhingi, but all Zimbabwean athletes and I hope the support will extend to the Stephen Muzhingi Athletics Club which I intend to establish soon, said Muzhingi, who is employed by the Air Force of Zimbabwe.
In the previous event I have done very well without any sponsorship although it was very difficult, but with this sponsorship I promise to do my best to not only win, but also run (the race) in five hours 19 minutes so that I break the record, said a bullish Muzhingi.
The decorated ultra-marathon runner is scheduled to take part in Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon on the weekend of April 6 and 7 and the Chatsworth Freedom Marathon on April 22 in KwaZulu Natal in preparation for the Comrades Marathon on July 3.
The 2012 Comrades Marathon will be a down-run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. The 89km race will start outside the City Hall in Albert Luthuli Street, Pietermaritzburg, and finish at Sahara Kingsmead Cricket Stadium in Durban.