Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
THE Bulawayo Athletics Board (Bab) has apologised for the gaffe that saw athletes running 19km instead of the intended 21.1km of the inaugural Old Mutual Nkulumane Half Marathon on Sunday.
Bab chairman Manuel Mpofu said they will address problems that led to Sunday’s blunder and are already working on ensuring it doesn’t happen again.
“As a board, we would like to apologise to the athletes and our sponsors for the error in judgment regarding the route distance for the event last Sunday,” said Mpofu.
He said they had taken note of the bungling in distance through athletes’ feedback and have decided to change the route to a circular one for the 2019 Old Mutual Nkulumane Half Marathon following the embarrassment of Sunday’s inaugural edition.
Bab, Mpofu said, will engage athletes and sponsors in identifying and measuring the distance for next year’s race. He said they would also use GPS technology in addition to the perambulator (measuring wheel) to ensure that the 2019 half marathon is 21.1km.
“A circular route will allow us to have a suitable route for our athletes. We are eager to see this event grow, so we will work hard to ensure that it grows with each passing year. It is our hope that one day the race will develop and expand into a full marathon event recognised by the IAAF(International Association of Athletics Federations),” said Mpofu.
Bab has been administering the Old Mutual Nkulumane races, which were previously 5km and 10km fun runs.
The half marathon was introduced this year to attract the country’s top runners, but it was soiled by the incompetence of Bab officials to measure the proper 21.1km distance, despite prior warning that the verified official route fell short.
Sponsors, Old Mutual, set aside $10 300 for this year’s rebranded half marathon with prizes being doled out in 14 categories.