Local long-distance runners will face a stern test of character when they line up for the 5th edition of the annual Dr Sam Nujoma Half Marathon later this month.
The annual gathering, held under the auspices of the country’s athletics governing boy, Athletics Namibia (AN), promises to be one the finest road races in history with a number of high profile athletes from across southern Africa and as far as Kenya, as well as local runners from all 14 regions are expected to grill each other in the grueling 21-km race.
The race, which will coincide with the founding president’s 87th birthday, will commence on the 22nd of this month at the Doc Jubber Hockey fields in Olympia and before winding its way through the streets of Windhoek before concluding back at its starting-point.
Having already qualified for this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeriro, Brazil Namibia’s medal hopeful, Mynhardt Kauanivi, will be out to defend his crown, but can expect tough resistance from the internationally acclaimed Kenyan runners.
AN president Alan Similo said if Namibia wants to see more athletes qualify for high profile events in the near future, athletes should be exposed more to high-level competitions, such as the annual Dr Sam Nujoma Half Marathon.
“It’s not always possible to host high-level international competitions, as we would like to and we would also dearly like to send our athletes to compete internationally as we’ve been handicapped by insufficient funds, but I do remain positive and very proud that even with the lack of adequate funds – it has not discouraged athletes from going that extra mile on their own,” he said.
Apart from the 21-km half marathon and a shorter 10-km race, organisers have introduced a 5-km Fun Run with all entry fees collected from this category earmarked for the Save the Rhino campaign.
Similo added that the union has observed a steady improvement in the performance of local athletes: “This behaviour serves as an indicator that we’re moving in the right direction. Recently, one of our leading athletes out-jumped a former Olympian to clinch a gold medal in the triple jump – a feat that can regarded as a great achievement for Namibia.”
He called on corporate business to join hands and emulate the feat of MTC, who have remained a true friend and supporter of Athletics Namibia.
“We’re guided by the notion and belief that we can unearth hidden talent and nurture it to the highest level, but this noble objective can only be achieved if we all put our shoulder to the wheel and pull in one direction.”
Winners in the senior categories are guaranteed a cool N$10 000 in prize money, with the top finishing local athletes also receiving the same amount. Should the same local athlete be the overall winner, he or she will walk away with the double the amount.