There are huge financial rewards for middle and long distance runners in this week’s popular 21 kilometre half marathon.
The winners of the men and women’s section of Saturday’s Old Mutual Westgate 21 kilometre half marathon will each receive $3,000, which is the highest prize money offered in an athletics event on the Zimbabwean sports calendar.
The prize money is even far much more than what most individual sporting competitions give out to winners in the country and also compares favourably with what is on offer in top races in other African countries.
Grace Mukahanana, a representative of the sponsors Old Mutual, reveals how much in total is on offer.
As a result , the race has attracted some of the best marathon runners in the country among them Wirimai Juwao, Cuthbert Nyasango as well as Sharon Tawengwa, who represented Zimbabwe at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Also in action will be defending women’s champion Rutendo Nyahora who has been causing a stir on the South African athletics scene while running for the Nedbank Running Club.
All in all, the organizers are expecting more than 3,000 middle and long distance runners who are coming from all the four corners of the country hoping to land the financial rewards on offer ahead of the Christmas period.
Mukahanana says they want to maintain the race as one of the richest sponsored sporting competitions in Zimbabwe, adding that they might decide to increase the prize monies come next year.
In addition to the main 21 kilometre race, there are other categories comprising of five to 10 kilometre races for the disabled, veterans as well as school children. These competitions have various prize monies.
Due to its location, the race also has a large spectator value as thousands line up the streets and at the tape to see the runners battle for honours.
The half marathon starts and ends at the popular Westgate Shopping Mall in Harare.