BLACK Rhinos Athletics Club long distance runner Andrew Chimbidzikai crossed the finishing line first to win this year’s edition of the PPC Matopos 33-Miler Ultra-Marathon beating last year’s record by a minute.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
This year’s race was an improvement from last year both in the number of athletes who participated attracting over 2 000 runners and the organisation with electronic timing for the 33-Miler and 21km Half Marathon done by South African company ChampionChip Africa.
Chimbidzikai romped home in 3:12:23 to pick up the first prize of $1 000, beating Lyno Muchena’s last year record of 3:13:28.
The army side runner was elated after finishing the demanding 53km race that started deep in the heart of Matopos National Park and ended at Bulawayo Athletic Club.
“It was a very competitive race. I just watched the other runners in the leading pack and studied them and in the last 20km I told myself I would make it. I would pull them and then relax and then in the last stretch I said I told myself to go for it,” Chimbidzikai said.
He shrugged off the challenge from Nkosiyazi Sibanda of Blanket Mine who came second in 3:12:28 while Peter Tumbare of Airforce of Zimbabwe came third in 3:14:21.
Chiedza Chokore won the women’s category of the race in 4:09:10 with Muchaneta Gwata right behind her in 4:09:54 while Margaret Mahohoma came third in 4:10:01.
The race is used as a qualifier for the Comrades Marathon to be held on June 10 and PPC Zimbabwe MD Kelibone Masiyane pledged continued support for the race.
“We always believe that what we achieve today is basically the minimum standard for the next day. We wanted it to be bigger than last year and I think we essentially achieved much more than that; it was beyond our expectations. Bringing ChampionChip Africa is a first for Zimbabwe and if you are going to compete with the best in the world this is what you have got to do,” Masiyane said.
The men’s 21km half marathon was won by Misheck Sithole in 1:05:13, while Bertha Chikanga clocked 1:18:53 to claim the women’s title in that category.
Also part of the competition were the wheelchair, 10km and 5km categories, which attracted a number of health enthusiasts from around the country.