Covid-19 forces organizers to postpone Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls Marathon

The race which attracts thousands of professional athletes from across southern Africa was originally billed to be held on July 5
Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir (front) is running the top during the 5th Saitama International Marathon in Saitama Prefecture on Dec. 8, 2019. The 26-year-old Kenyan clocked 2 hours 23 minutes and 50 seconds to capture the title. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun )

The organizers of the Econet Victoria Falls Marathon have rescheduled the race for December due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The race which attracts thousands of professional athletes as well as health and fitness enthusiasts from across southern Africa and beyond, was originally billed to be held on July 5.

Registration was opened in January, but after the coronavirus pandemic hit the southern African nation, entries were closed until April 30 in anticipation that the outbreak would have subsided enough for the world to return to normalcy with the date remaining unchanged.

However, the organizers have been forced to issue a statement on the race’s official website saying the event is now scheduled for December upon liaison with the government and other relevant stakeholders.

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“We have had to re-schedule the Econet Victoria Falls Marathon, and the event is now planned for December 13, 2020.

“Of course, this will be subject to permission from the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health, and possibly Zambia, but we are confident that by December events such as the marathon will be allowed,” the statement read.

If cleared, the organizers have assured that they will put in place all safety precautions and hoped that the race will re-ignite the carnival atmosphere to the Victoria Falls community, which has been blighted by the plague, as the country remains under lockdown.

“We also have initiated some ideas for our runners’ safety when in close contact with others, which we will share nearer the time. As organizers, we hope that this commitment on our part will provide a bit of happiness to the running community, and the Victoria Falls community as a whole. Something to look forward to, we feel, in these negative times,” they said.

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The statement also contained advice for tourists who plan to be part of the event saying, “Change your flights, move your accommodation bookings, change your training schedule, and ‘look forward’, not backward.”

Last year’s main 42.2km race was won by Christopher Gondwe, who clocked 2 hours 25 minutes and 36 seconds in the men’s section, while the women’s category was won by Zambian Felistus Chitoshi who finished in a time of 2 hours 52 minutes and 31 seconds.

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