The virtual Econet Victoria Falls Marathon kicks off today in numerous cities across Africa and the world.
Organizers say this year’s historic event, which is being held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions, is expected attracted more than 5 000 athletes from Zimbabwe and over 60 countries.
Race Director John Addison said the race this year could not have been possible without the generous support of the main sponsor, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which he said was critical in organising running gear and various prizes for the first 1 000 to register, among other things.
“This is an incredible shout out to our main sponsor Econet, and also all the other sponsors who committed to this event. Hopefully, these over 5 000 participants will turn into growth in tourism and the economy, both in the Vic Falls and the region, and help take us all into a post-COVID-19 future in 2021,” he said.
Addison said his organisation was also incredibly proud of the money they have raised through a number of participants via the GivenGain platform, for the company’s four charities as well as through the percentage contribution from each of the runners’ entry fees.
“Through these initiatives, we have managed to bring in just under US$3 000 so far. This is also a reminder though that people can continue to donate till the end of December. Let this be the season of giving,” he added.
Both local and international runners are participating in three categories of the Econet Victoria Falls Marathon, which are a full 42km marathon, a 21km half-marathon and the popular 7,5km family fun run. Runners will be using their favourite routes from wherever they are.
After completing the race, athletes record the finishing time and upload it on the race website to get certificates of participation, which they can print out.
Econet Wireless Chief Executive Officer Dr Douglas Mboweni said he was happy his company was continuing to put Zimbabwe on the world map by sponsoring this historic event.
“As Econet we continue to look for opportunities that enhance Zimbabwe’s economic growth. By sponsoring this marathon we are playing our part in marketing the country as a safe and attractive tourism destination. We hope that we will have more people visit Zimbabwe next year and contribute to tourism growth by participating in the next edition of the marathon,” he said.
Speaking ahead of the marathon, Dr Mboweni reminded local runners in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Kariba and Victoria Falls to be on the lookout for refreshment point that will be placed at strategic route points.
“Racing time is open as it is a virtual race, but we are encouraging people to start early in the morning to avoid the high afternoon temperatures. We will also have our MARS ambulance services on standby in selected towns, to cater for those who might require emergency medical assistance,” he said.