Top races heed coronavirus call

TWO of the country’s biggest races, the PPC Matopos 33-Mile Ultra-marathon and Econet Victoria Falls Marathon, have been put on hold by the organisers in the face of the dreaded coronavirus scourge.

BY FORTUNE MBELE

The pandemic has claimed thousands of lives and has had a huge impact on sporting events globally.

Although no case has being confirmed in the country, the pandemic was declared a national disaster by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday and a subsequent ban on gatherings and sporting events was effected for the next 60 days.

The PPC Matopos race was due to be held on April 4 and the organisers have advised athletes who had already registered for the race that their registrations would still be valid whenever the race will be rescheduled.

Athletes started registering in February.

The PPC Matopos Marathon statement issued on Wednesday read: “We would like to advise PPC Matopos Marathon 2020 runners and the public at large that the race has been postponed to a date to be advised in due course. All runners that have registered and paid for their place in the 2020 race will be eligible to participate in the PPC Marathon when it is rescheduled with no additional payments required.”

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Last year, the race attracted more than 3 000 athletes, excluding race officials, spectators and health and fitness enthusiasts, with some non-professional athletes coming from South Africa.

Andrew Chimbidzikai of Black Rhinos won the full 53km race last year in 3:12:22 in the men’s category, while Chiedza Chokore touched the ribbon first in the women’s category.

Meanwhile, the Econet Victoria Falls 42km Marathon’s organisers have closed online registrations for the race which is set for July 5 despite that the ban on sporting events is likely to have been lifted.

The organisers flighted their statement on the race’s official website and Facebook page a day before Mnangagwa made his pronouncement.

“The Econet Victoria Falls Marathon event is scheduled to take place in July 2020. We have temporarily closed online entries until 30 April or until we have a clear indication from the World Health Organisation and Zimbabwe Health ministry as to whether we may proceed with the event,” the statement read.

They had opened registrations for the race in January.

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