THE country’s top athletes have declared their readiness for the tough Old Mutual Vumba 21km Mountain Run slated for Vumba Botanical Gardens this morning.
BY KENNETH NYANGANI
The race is regarded as one of the toughest events in the country as athletes have to negotiate through a mountainous route.
The finishing point has been changed from the traditional Leopard Rock Hotel to the Botanical Gardens, a few metres away from Hillforest Resort who are partners in the event.
Previous editions have seen top athletes complaining of fatigue after the race, but they say it is good for their endurance.
The female defending champion, South Africa-based Rutendo Nyahora, said she was aware of the route challenges.
“The race is one of the best-organised events on the national calendar. This is the reason l participate every year. The route is tough, but at the same time l enjoy it,’’ she said.
“I am confident of doing well because l am used to the terrain, which I know can be a problem to newcomers.”
Nyahora will face stiff competition from Olivia Chitate, who won the Simon Muzenda Gutu Half Marathon in Masvingo last Sunday.
Other seasoned campaigners, who are expected to fight for top honours in the female category, are Constance and Faith Nyasango.
Elijah Mabhunu, the defending champion in the male category, yesterday told this publication that he was hoping to retain his title.
“This is a tough race with a straining route, but l am ready for the challenge, it won’t be easy because top athletes are coming for the race,’’ he said.
Winners in both the male and female categories will walk away with a purse of $1 000 each.
Manicaland Athletics Board chairman Joshua “Zesa’’ Matume yesterday said top national athletes had confirmed their participation in the race.
“This is a tough race and seasoned athletes have already confirmed to take part. This year’s race finishing point will be at the Vumba Botanical Gardens at Forest Hills Resort, who are our partners this year as they are going to provide us with accommodation, food , among other items.
Forest Hills Resort manager Patrick Muponda said athletes would be afforded a chance to see the scenic Vumba mountain ranges.