Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE annual Econet Victoria Falls Marathon is likely to be an elitist event this year after organisers decided to charge participating local runners in United States dollars, with no option for the equivalent in local currency.
According to the organisers’ official website, aspiring runners that are Zimbabwean citizens will have to part with US$15 for registration of the full and half marathons, while the fun run will cost US$5.
This year’s event is scheduled for July 7 in the resort town.
Registration fees for citizens had initially been pegged at US$30 before organisers reduced it by 50 percent following an outcry.
Foreigners resident in Zimbabwe will pay US$30 for the full and half marathons as well as US$5 for the fun run.
“Please note that entry fees for Zimbabwe citizens have been updated (Zimbabwe citizens only). We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Proof of citizenship or residency will be asked for at registration,” wrote the organisers as they announced the new registration fees on the marathon’s official Facebook page.
Citizens and residents of Botswana, Namibia and Zambia are expected to pay US$30 for the full and half marathons, while runners from other countries, including South Africa, will part with US$60.
No reasons were given for charging South African citizens and residents different amounts to those of other Zimbabwean neighbours.
“I am not sure we will afford this after Comrades Marathon expenses,” wrote Dumisani Nkosi on the event’s official Facebook site.
“We don’t even earn the USD. The race no longer accommodates the poor worker who earns RTGS. This event is no longer inclusive of the financially disadvantaged youths and athletically talented and promising rural youth. I don’t see this event achieving sport development in Zimbabwe.
It is still a great international event though, with capacity to lure tourism to Zimbabwe,” wrote Cletos Dudzayi on the same site.
“USD$15 is still a lot for an average Zimbabwean because we don’t get paid in USD and considering the hassle that comes with having to convert your RTGS to USD, I might as well just sit this one out because we also have other expenses that come with the trip we still have to consider. Somehow it is becoming more of an elitist run,” wrote Noma Sipapate.
Other local races are way cheaper than the Econet Victoria Falls Marathon. For example, the Old Mutual Harare Marathon held in February cost just $10 in local currency, while the inaugural CBZ Peter Gradwell held last Sunday was $15 in local currency and the PPC Matopos Ultra Marathon set for next month costs just $20 in local currency.
Inaugurated in 2006, the Econet Victoria Falls Marathon has attracted many local and international runners over the years.
Experienced runner Nkosiyazi Sibanda won last year’s main event in 2 hours 21.08 minutes in the men’s category, while Olivia Chitate claimed the females’ gong in a time of 2 hours 58.35 minutes.