Victoria Falls Marathon - August 2010
This baby has grown up!! With over 650 runners on the streets of Vic Falls on
29 AUGUST, from over 24 countries, the sport of running has arrived in the Falls. With it, the Zambezi Man multi sport event also grew (raft /MTB/run) with 67 starters, so this incredible sport is also finding it's righful centre in the Falls, Zimbabwes 'Adventure Capital.
Seriously, there is NO BETTER PLACE to run, raft and MTB in Africa. Participants were ALL ecstatic - the route, the game, the scenery, the people , the community, the country, the great organisation were all commented on, with comments ranging from "excellent to incredible". My best comment from a runner from the USA, who had run marathons in all 50 States, and 6 of the 7 continents, was - "I saved the best for last " - he had chosen Vic Falls as his first African race, and last on his list of races on all Seven Continents!!
The new marathon route was well received by all, with the crossing of the bridge into Zambia with great views of the Falls, running along the Zambezi River and into the National Park and then a short loop into the high density areas just before the finish, with great crowd support, all being highlights. Apart from the human spectators, elephant, buffalo, impala, warthog, mongoose, monkeys, bushbuck and kudu also enjoyed the action - with the baboons on the route on Zambezi Drive taking a liking to Powerade, the effects of which on primates is very similar to humans!!
The Finish at the school was, as usual, festive - with great food and drinks and music etc.
I only hope as the Event grows in size, as it will, is that we can manage to keep this "village/community" type atmosphere at the end. The cheering as local disabled wheelchair participants, and people running their first races came round the track, as well as the emotional playing of "Chariots of Fire" to honour the last runners in, this is something that makes this event so special.
Times were good - with Zimbabwe taking most of the honours, despite having some Ethiopian runners this year (our first ever). All results are on the website. Veteran times were also good, and in 2011 we plan to have a distinct category for this.
Once the event was over, the fun began. With over 160 people on the Official Boat Cruise that evening, and about 300 people at the Boat Club for the After Party, there were a lot of runners who were not running on all 4 cylinders on the Monday. Many, however, braved the grade 5 rapids on the Zambezi, bungi jumped, jet-boated etc and continued their stay in Zimbabwe after the event.
Our collection of goods for local schools etc was a success thanks to our generous runners, and we plan some donations in the near future to local schools of books, pens etc.
These events have a way of showing up commitment and ability - and, apart from our excellent management team up there, the Community of the Falls must get accolades - the Mayor and Council, Police, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and Immigration ( both Zimbabwe and Zambia sides ), Presidents Office, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, the Vic Falls Tourist Police, Vic Falls Anti-poaching Unit, National Parks, Vic Falls Primary School etc. Without them, this event would not be that same.
The officials from the National Athletics Association, too, worked very hard with us on this.
Of course, the sponsors are key - and they all ran great waterpoints and put in a huge effort to get this off the ground.
The economic impact on the town and region is hard to evaluate (I have never been able to accurately measure this in any event of ours !!), but is large. Hotels, bars, taxis, restaurants etc all benefited hugely. A fairly rational thumbsuck would be around USD 250000 came in to the Falls economy that weekend, directly.
On a final word - the efficient running of this event proves ZIMBABWE IS BACK. Economic, social, educational hurdles still exist, but are being overcome - maybe it is time for a rethink on Zimbabwe by the sceptics??
NB - we will be producing a full 52 minutes on DSTV this year, and covering Zambezi Man too. TX times later on email, so make sure you watch and gets your mates to watch.
2010 Images are available on www.vicfallsmarathon.com
With thanks, from the organisers
Wild Frontiers , Wild Horizons , Adventure Zone , Kaelo Worldwide and National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe.