There will be more to fight for when local athletes take to the tracks during this year’s Steinmetz Gaborone Marathon.
Apart from the chance to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, the first local athletes to reach the finish line, in both the men and ladies section, are guaranteed to pocket a whooping P10 000 each. The incentive comes courtesy of the Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL), who is also the marathon’s Official Insurance sponsor.
Speaking in an interview with Standard Sport, Stellan Bengtsson of PGM foundation, who are the race’s organizers, said the aim is to encourage local athletes to compete in the race.
“We reckoned that with the race attracting elite athletes from across the world, including those from African powerhouses like Ethiopia and Kenya who are likely to be much competitive, we needed to give the local athletes something to smile about even if they don’t win the race. It is to ensure that given the toughness of the competition, they can always come back and compete,” Bengtsson said.
He says the organizers and sponsors are of the view that local athletes who come first and put concerted efforts should not go home empty handed but should be rewarded.
Meanwhile, Bengstsson says the sponsorship money for the race’s prizes has been increased from P120 000 to P180 000.
“This represents an increase of about fifty percent in the sponsorship money and this is good news for athletes. Our belief is that the increase will help make this marathon even more attractive to elite athletes in the African continent,” Bengtsson added.
Despite the fifty percent increase in the prize money sponsorship, Bengtsson says the prize money for the race will remain the same as in the past year. The winners of the race will walk away with P25 000, the runners up P15 000, third place P10 000 while those coming fourth will be awarded P5 000. The prize money is expected to be the same in both the men and ladies category. On other issues related to the event, Bengtsson says they are experiencing an increasing number of athletes registering to compete in the race. He says so far, they have had a number of international athletes from as far as Kenya, Nigeria, United States of America and South Africa either enquiring or registering to compete in the race. Apart from elite athletes, Bengtsson says they are also experiencing an increase in the number of corporate teams registering to take part in the marathon’s corporate team version.
“We are happy to announce that we are partnering with the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture and they have been very helpful in ensuring that the corporate team event is a success. They have written letters to other ministries and government departments requesting them to join in the race and we are happy with the progress,” Bengtsson added.
Meanwhile, as a way of preparing local athletes for the April main event, the organizers in collaboration with the race’s Communication Partner, Mascom Wireless, today (Sunday) organized a Pre-Race Training Run that is expected to help local athletes assess themselves ahead of the marathon. According to Bengtsson, who is also the Race Director of the marathon, the Pre-Race Training is expected to give athletes a chance to assess their weaknesses and strengths in a structured setting as well as to promote the race. The race is sponsored by Steinmetz Diamonds (title sponsors). Other major sponsors include Standard Chartered Bank, Phakalane Golf Estate and Hotel Resort, Masco, , Richold SA, Breitling, Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Leo Schachter Diamonds, Primassure / SURE, and GlaxoSmithKline.