The City of Francistown will be a hive of activity over the Valentine’s Day weekend as it hosts the inaugural beMobile Francistown Marathon. In a weekend that lovers’ hearts will be humming to the beat of love, Botswana’s second biggest city will be humming to a different beat of athletes’ heart and feet racing to claim the inaugural marathon championship title. According to the marathon’s Local Organising Committee (LOC) Chairperson, Ben Tobedza, the marathon, which is expected to be a permanent feature in the city’s calendar of events, will be held on the 15th of next month.
Tobedza said though preparations for the marathon are ongoing, his committee expects to host a successful event. Despite this being the marathon’s first edition, the beMobile Francistown Marathon LOC chairperson said they are targeting to have least 2000 participants for their event. Perhaps as an incentive for participants, Tobedza said the race will be used as a qualifier for the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. Apart from attracting the country’s elite middle and long distance runners, Tobedza said the organisers are busy sending invitations to international runners to compete in the inaugural event.┬á
Quizzed on the objectives of the marathon, the LOC Chairperson said the idea is to not only promote sport in the north of the country but also promote sporting tourism.┬á “What we want is to create an avenue for us to tap into the young talent in the North. We want to promote athletics in this part of the country, not only as a way to a healthy lifestyle but also as a way to create an awareness that sport can be a profession and be used to earn a living,” Tobedza explained. “We also want to use sport as a way to promote event tourism in the city of Francistown. For this reason, we will also have fun runs for those who are not here to compete but are just running for fun and to keep fit,” the beMobile Francistown Marathon LOC Chairperson explained. With event tourism in mind, Tobedza said the organisers have teamed up with the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) who are now part of the race’s sponsors. “As part of the sponsorship deal, we will be having a marathon preparedness Pitso today (Wednesday) which will be facilitated by BTO. The main objective is to gather participants from all sectors to engage and share ideas on how to ensure the Francistown becomes a destination of choice. We expect participants from sectors such as small businesses, hospitality, transport operators as well as tour operators to take part in this workshop,” the beMobile Francistown Marathon LOC Chairperson explained.
At the workshop, participants are expected to come up with ideas on how to ensure they get maximum exposure from the event. Meanwhile, Tobedza said as a first for Botswana, they are working with the Paralympics Association of Botswana to ensure physically disabled people can take part in the race. “For this race, we will also have wheelchair races. This will be the first time in the country that a marathon has the physically disabled included in the programme,” the LOC Chairperson said.