The 2018 edition of the Old Mutual Vumba Mountain Run Half Marathon gets underway tomorrow testing athletes’ physical fitness in mountainous and undulating terrain of the Eastern Highlands.
Now in its 7th year, the annual long-distance running competition is sponsored by one of Zimbabwe’s leading insurance companies — Old Mutual Zimbabwe, as part of the group’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
The listed insurance giant has set prize packages of $18 000 for this year’s events with more than 3 000 athletes expected from around the country.
Race categories for the Vumba Mountain Run include 10km and 21km and in addition to the competitive races, will be a 5km fun run event.
Old Mutual Zimbabwe marketing executive Matilda Nyathi said all is in place for this year’s edition, with the country’s top athletes set to compete.
“We have put in place all logistics and we are expecting athletes to come in their numbers. There is US$18 000 up for grabs in the 10km and 21km categories.
“The main prizes will be for winners in the 21km category where both the fastest male and female athlete will take home US$1 500 each.
“There are other relatively attractive prizes in the juniors, Veterans, Masters and Grand Masters categories,” she revealed.
The Vumba Half Marathon has attracted big names since inception including Olympian Rutendo Nyahora, Chiedza Chikore, Bertha Chikanga, Rudo Mhonderwa, Canisious Nyamutsita and Kelvin Pangiso.
Old Mutual Zimbabwe says it is committed to supporting the development and growth of the Zimbabweans through initiatives that foster the development of housing, health, infrastructure, sport development, agriculture and the recovery of businesses.
As a way of uplifting the livelihoods of the community, Nyathi said the Vumba Mountain Run has been growing due to their commitment in community health and wellness.
“Health and wellness forms an integral part of our Corporate Social Responsibility strategy. We believe that any business can only be as good as the community in which it operates from.
“In recent years we have seen communities battling with health issues. So this is a big way in which we are responding as a socially-oriented business.
“We are encouraging physical and health wellness among our customers, our stakeholders and the nation at large through athletics,” she said.
Besides the financial rewards, fitness and health concerns, Nyathi said the Vumba Mountain Run is an opportunity to help athletes improve their personal best time ahead of bigger and gruelling international assignments.
“Though we financially reward all the outstanding athletes; the objectives of the race go way beyond that. The Vumba Mountain Run also provides a platform for professional athletes to improve their personal best times and fine tune their preparations for regional and international marathons. For casual runners it’s more about health and physical wellness,” Nyathi explained.
She added: “Another interesting factor is the involvement of a group called ‘Friends of Vumba’ led by Sue Ingram. They are group of residents based in Vumba whose mandate is premised on environmental preservation. All the registration proceeds from the race will be channelled towards this worthy cause.”
Last year’s winner, Nyamutsita is expected to defend his title for the third time while Patience Garauzive, who was the defending champion for the female category is expected to return this year.
This year’s event is expected to be interesting following its return at Leopard Rock, a favourable venue due to its spacious and able to absorb the growing numbers.
Old Mutual have also engaged “Finish Time”, who will be responsible for real time results processing for all athletes which can be used for performance tracking by athletes and coaches.
Old Mutual is one of the biggest sponsors of athletics in Zimbabwe.
They also sponsor the Westgate Half Marathon, Nkulumane Half Marathon, Dangamvura Fun Run and the Chitungwiza Fun Run.
Besides athletics, Old Mutual sponsor other sporting disciplines like rugby and cricket both at professional and developmental stages.
They also support Tennis Zimbabwe and the reconstruction of tennis courts at Harare Sports Club which is the home ground for all international and local tennis tournaments (including the Davis Cup and Futures Tournaments).